Travelling History in Yorkshire

Fascinating things in Yorkshire (Part 1)

Rock Art on Ilkley Moor

Ilkley Moor is stuffed full of Bronze Age rock art, those enigmatic cups, rings and channels carved on the many rocks and outcrops some 4000 years ago. Nobody really knows what the meaning and significance of this art is, or whether it is art at all, but we can spend many a happy hour strolling through this amazing landscape contemplating this.

But where do boundaries between art, graffiti and (to be controversial) vandalism lie? Aside from Bronze Age rock art, Ilkley Moor is also full of more contemporary etchings. The famous Cow and Calf rocks are amazing, generations of people have, and still do, carefully and very skillfully carve their names into the rock, leaving behind a tiny piece of individual history, a message, or perhaps a symbol, the meaning of which is known only by those who carved it. They have, as archaeologists might say, put significant investment into this work.

Here we have a carving from 1892 which, to us at least, has historical interest. To others, perhaps it has crossed the line from art to graffiti and this view is probably more pronounced with the modern art/graffiti perhaps vandalism, on the Haystack Rock. Whatever your view, there is little doubt that this is a landscape in which people feel the need to leave their mark.

The Pancake Stone is remarkable, dangling precariously over the escarpment with amazing views over the moors. It has magical qualities. In overcast conditions the rock surface is dull and the cup marks are difficult to discern. When the sun emerges the rock is transformed, cup and rings leap from obscurity and the quartz inclusions give the entire rock a glistening alive appearance. We were reminded of the Radio 4 Open Country programme we shared recently on Facebook, describing the experience of creating rock art, the air shimmering with quartz crystals to the soundtrack of tap tapping rock on rock.

The Pancake Stone - very difficult to capture the sparkle on film, we need to hone our photography skills and return to take some awesome, magical images on a crisp winters day.

Another favourite for us was the Backstone Beck stone, with its little cluster of cup marks on the edge:

And finally, The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle on Ilkley Moor (below). On the subject of apostles, part 2 of this blog, next week, will look at some fascinating churches, tales and people in and around Pocklington, including William Wilberforce, Jonathan Atkin (to add a little more controversy) and of course, the "Flying Man of Pocklington".

Your Travelling History host - it is always a pleasure to arrange private historical outings to independent travellers, families and anybody with a interest in history, landscape and fresh air.

#ilkleymoor #rockart #cupandrings #bronzeage #travellinghistory #haystack #pancakestone #twelveapostles

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