NGR: SD 8909 3701. At the edge of a field beside Delves Lane, near Nelson, in Lancashire, there is a flat, shaped stone on the ground that looks to have “possible” ancient carvings on it. This smooth, strangely-shaped, and worn, rather innocuous-looking stone, is to be found at the edge of a farmer’s field and just inside a metal-gated entrance, and not more than a metre away from the country lane that is over-shadowed by the ancient Walton Spire monolith, over to the north. The stone has one well-defined cup marking and three more tiny, weathered cup markings on it, and also fifth and sixth cup marks together at the far side of the stone. It measures 16 inches long by 12 inches at its widest. All in all though this is a very nice stone; but it is a few miles ‘as the crow flies’ from the moorland where most of these petroglyphs would usually be found.
Not far from here, about 230 metres to the south, is the site of a Bronze Age stone circle at ‘Ring Stones Hill’, and, a bit further along the lane and in the corner of a farmer’s field is the site of a Bronze Age burial mound which has, sadly, been ploughed out. And there are also ancient barrows on nearby Knave Hill. But where the cup-marked stone originated from is anyone’s guess; maybe it came from Boulsworth Hill a few miles away, where a few other carved stones have been found, or, did it come from Catlow, ½ a mile to the south; it was here at Catlow that a Bronze Age burial with collared urns was discovered by quarry workers in the 19th century. But whether this carved stone came from any of these sites is not known for certain. Maybe farmers from the past would know that question – if only we could ask them. There is a wall stile a bit further back along Delves Lane if the gate won’t open! Remember, though, that this is farming land.
Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2022.