This is a crackin' stone which affords the weary walker the only bit of shade on the moor.
The diagram posted by Haus doesn't seem to be completely accurate. Stu and I traced out a number of interconnecting channels which conected up most of the features on the left hand side of the stone.
Stu put forward a credible interpretation that the carvings on the left half of the stone represented a map of the landscape beyond the stone.
I have to disagree with Chris on the siting of the bench. The stone is set looking out into the landscape, you look at the carvings then you look at the Wharfe valley beyond. The bench serves the same purpose - it's all about the location.
Well, 1 week and 2 hours after my first visit I was back again at the Badger Stone, it the same sunny spring weather but those couple of hours made a world of difference. What before was a grey featureless stone had been transformed by the sun sinking slowly in the West into a miniature Uluru/Ayers Rock, a beautiful golden brown mound with the carvings now throw into sharp relief by the near horizontal early evening sunlight. As I had rushed over the moor from Weary Hill I had worried that the sun was getting too low and I would miss the carvings for a second time – I needn’t have worried, the south-west face of the Badger Stone was lit up like a static firework display – cups, rings, gutters, strange grooves and the incomplete swastika were all clearly visible.
As I was making my way over from Weary Hill, a short distance from it I was checking the map to make sure I was heading in the right directing when I looked up and realised the Badger Stone was clearly visible on the horizon half a mile away, although it dipped in and out of view and was out of sight from as little as 100 metres away. It started me wondering about the intervisibility between the various carved stones on the moor – from the Badger stone I could see Willy Hall’s Wood and the positions of the Neb Stone and Weary Hill. Which other stones could be seen and if there might be any significance in these sightlines is something I’ll have to look into next time, it may help to explain why some non-descript stones seem to be profusely carved while others that would seem to be prime candidates for decoration have no carvings at all.
Like Ironman, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by the Badger stone, this being my first visit. It was smaller than I had pictured it and due to the position of the sun the famous carvings were very difficult to make out and even more difficult to photograph. I thought the wooden bench next to it detracted from it as well – somehow it forces the modern world on the site – in the hour I was there, apart from a knowledgeable local I met, only 2 people came past on the track.
Definitely a stone to come back to when a more favourable light can do it justice.
I returned to the Badger Stone on 16/3/2. This time it was in the late afternoon, so the sun was in a different position from the last time I was here (early morning). The aspects of the stone that had excited me so much last time were now more difficult to make out despite the strong sunshine. Markings I could hardly make out the previous time were however brought into sharper focus.
If you intend to visit the Badger Stone it is worth many repeat visits - only then will you be sure to see it in all of it's glory. I intend to visit here at night with a decent set of flash lights in order to attempt illuminate it from all angles.
On first arriving at the Badger Stone I must admit I was a bit disapointed. I just didn't get it. I was tired after excitedly stomping straight across the open moorland from the mound above the waterfall near the White Well's car park, so I decided to lie down and rest on the bench for a while.
A few minutes later I felt the sun streaming across my face, and so jumped up to take a look at the stone. I couldn't help but laugh, every last feature was illuminated before me, my disapointment turned to overwhelming joy as I poured over this wonder. The sun stayed with me for 3/4 hour in which time I found myself narrowing in more and more to the surface of the rock. From the initially confusing bigger picture, I soon realised that to appreciate the stone you must get in close, and forget EVERYTHING you know about 'art' appreciation. Ideas streamed through my mind about what the stone represented, I thought about ideas I'd read that this was a kind of map - then I started to see the stone as a storytelling device - representing long forgotten places, people, henges, burial sites, hills, events etc. - in short a means of recording both temporal and spacial 'things' in an organic record. Of course any ideas about the purpose will inevitably remain just that, but just to contemplate is an amazing experience.
During ages past a Badger man was a miller's man or a trader in flour. It is thought than an ancient market used to take place here at the time of the equinoxes on the old trade route that traverses the moor.