Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 23242 52260
Also Known as:
- Carving no.555 (Boughey & Vickerman)
- Little Almias Cliff Crag
Archaeology & History
When the great northern antiquarian William Grainge (1871) wrote of this place, he told that, “the top of the main rock bears…rock bains and channels, which point it out as having been a cairn or fire-station in the Druidic day; there are also two pyramidal rocks with indented and fluted summits on the western side of the large rock” — but said nothing of the faded cup-and-ring we’re highlighting here, on its vertical eastern face. This ancient geological rise is today more peppered with increasing amounts of modern graffiti – much more than when I first visited the place in the early 1990s with petroglyph colleague Graeme Chappell.
In modern times, this singular cup-and-ring seems to have been reported first in E.S. Wood’s (1952) lengthy essay on prehistoric Nidderdale, and later included Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey of West Yorkshire and district. They wrote:
“On sheltered E face of main crag above a cut-out hollow like a doorway is a cup with a ring; the top surface of the rock is very weathered and may have had carvings, including a cupless ring.”
Indeed… although the carving is to the left-side of the large hollow and not above it. Scattered across the topmost sections of the Little Almscliffe themselves are a number of weather-worn cups and bowls, some of which may have authentic Bronze age pedigree, but the erosion has taken its toll on them and it’s difficult to say with any certainty these days. But it’s important to remember that even Nature’s ‘bowls’ on rocks was deemed to have importance in traditional cultures: the most common motif being that rain-water gathered in them possessed curative properties.
- Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
- Grainge, William, History & Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, J.R. Smith: London 1871.
- Speight, Harry, Kirkby Overblow and District, Elliot Stock: London 1903.
- Wood, E.S., The Archaeology of Nidderdale, unpublished MS, 1952.
Acknowledgements: Huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his fine photos on this site.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian