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To any one who is interested in stone carvings, the ‘Ilkley Moor Swastika Stone’ is one of the most famous. Perched on the low moors with exceptional views over the stunning Wharfe Valley, the stone was discovered (or should I say ‘uncovered’, as it was found under a lump of peat and grass) 140 years ago.

Ilkley Moor

It is a truly beautiful carving and the only one known anywhere in the world. There are a few others scattered around (1 in Italy and 1 in Sweden amongst a couple of others) but this one has a ‘tail’ – none of the others have this.

No one knows what it symbolises – there are various theories – from a protection against lightning strikes, to a homage to the Pagan Goddess ‘Brigid’ to a sign of ‘Good Luck’ – and many others. And no-one know how old it is – although it is generally thought to be Celtic in origin maybe 600 BC – so not as old as the other stone carvings on these moors which are thought to be about 3000 BC. The term ‘Swastika’ was coined around 1880, long before it took on a different meaning at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Ilkley Moor

It really is a superb carving and anyone in this area should seek it out. I have stared it it for hours over the years. It make you wonder what else there is under the peat waiting to be uncovered!

Oh, by the way (and this fools almost everyone). This isn’t the original carving. This one was created in the latter part of the 19th century. The original (much feinter) carving is 2ft behind this one. You can just see it in the top picture to the left of the pebble on the far rocks 😉