The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Cow and Calf Rocks

Natural Rock Feature


The "Cow" which I find was called in 1807 "Inglestone Cow," a name now quite forgotten, bears no mean resemblance to a castle, while the "Calf" may be likened to a keep; the two rocks having possibly been united by a wall or bulwark of turf and stones forming a secure and chief enclosure. The "Cow," as it now stands, is I should say the largest detached block of stone in England, measuring eighty feet long, about thirty-six feet wide and upwards of fifty feet in height. From one point of view it presents, like the jutting face of Kilnsey Crag, as seen from the north side, the appearance of a huge sphinx, which may be intentional, or it may be natural, probably the latter.

The face of the rock bears a depression that looks like a human foot, and local tradition concerning it is that the genius of the moors, a certain giant Rumbald, was stepping from Almias Cliff on the opposite side of the valley, to this great rock, but miscalculating its height his foot slipped, leaving the impression we now see.

Both the "Cow" and the "Calf" have cups and channels on their surfaces, which were conjectured by Messrs. Forrest and Grainge in 1869 to be connected with Druidical priestcraft, and that their purpose was "to retain and distribute the liquid fuel which fed the sacred flame on grand festivals of the year."
From Upper Wharfedale by Harry Speight (1900).
Another page reads:
Cow and Calf, basin, cup and channel marked. Described above. Some think the "basins" are due to natural weathering. I have heard it said the "Calf" fell from the "Cow" during a terrific storm about a century ago, but this is extremely doubtful. Anciently the Cow was known as the Inglestone.
And here:
Many of the rocks have been broken up for making the roads and other purposes in recent times. The largest and most notable of these was a monster slipped-boulder which stood near the road below the "Cow and Calf." It was as large as an ordinary cottage and was known as the "Bull Rock." To the regret of many it was destroyed. Old people tell me that these isolated rocks have borne the names of Bull and Cow and Calf time out of memory, but no legend is known to attach to them.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd January 2013ce
Edited 23rd January 2013ce

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