Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 10380 47027
Also Known as:
- Carving no.62 (Hedges)
- Enclosure Carving
Take the Wells Road from Ilkley centre up towards White Wells, bending to the right as you hit the edge of the moor. Keep along the road, past the old college building with its lake and turn right up Westwood Drive. Keep going all the way up till you hit the small woodland on your right. Where the woodland ends – stop! Walk into the trees about 10-15 yards and you’ll see the large rocks ahead of you. Amongst other petroglyphs hereby, you’ll find this carving is on one of them.
Archaeology & History
Although only given the usual dry description by our academic catalogue chaps, there’s something about this design that I’ve always liked. We first came across it ourselves in the late 1970s, in search of the legendary Panorama Stones, and found instead this large enclosure design with at least three cups inside it, still clearly visible. It is one of a cluster of carvings hereby, all of which were once adjacent to a prehistoric enclosure, described in the 1880s and destroyed soon after. This and the associated carvings very probably had some archaeocentric relevance to the lost enclosure.
The carving is sandwiched in between its petroglyphic companions, stone 231 and stone 233. As can be seen on some of the photos here, more recent vandalism has been inflicted on this carving and the recent chalk colouring is what local archaeologists Gavin Edwards and Alex Gibson have termed “social history”, implying fallaciously that cup-and-ring art could be seen as little more than neolithic and Bronze Age scribblings on rock, without any meaning other than it being comparable to “Leeds United Rules OK.” They may be right (highly unlikely) – but in reading copiously about prehistoric petroglyphs in cultures beyond the UK, we find that traditional societies tell such carvings relate to their creation myths, or river spirits, or rock spirits, and are intrinsically related to wider animistic cosmologies and social customs. This indicates, to me at least, that modern archaeologists who think of rock art as little more than childish scribblings still have a great deal to learn and we should beware their uneducated musings about our ancient carvings.
Although the complete carved ‘enclosure’ and its internal cups were mistakenly drawn in John Hedges (1986) survey, he described as being a,
“Roughly incised ‘enclosure’ with five cups in it, twenty eight shallow cups or depressions, one large oval marking, three irregular basins.”
In the later work of rock art students Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003), they simply said of the site:
“Large flat-topped, upstanding rectangular rock. Twenty-eight shallow cups, a few enclosed in two groups by grooves; irregular small basins.”
- Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
- Bennett, Paul, The Panorama Stones, Ilkley, TNA: Yorkshire 2012.
- Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
- Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian