Ilkley Moor in the old West Riding of Yorkshire is the home of many sacred prehistoric sites: barrows, rock carvings and five stone circles. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the Swastika Stone on Woodhouse Crag. According to the Guide to Prehistoric England by Nicholas Thomas originally published in 1960 the stone:
"shows the double outline of a swastika, with a cross-shaped arrangement of hollows incorporated in it. There is a hollow within an open circle close to it. The first motif is common on Celtic art of the last 3 centuries BC, which may be the date of this carving."
Whilst many academics such as Thomas attribute the carving to the Iron Age there is no evidence to substantiate this and in my opinion the age of this carving must be traced back to the Neolithic. Evan Haddingham in Circles and Standing Stones makes the valid observation that:
"Here and there, interspersed with the familiar concentric circle patterns, are rocks with surprising variations on the cup-and-ring motifs, such as the famous Swastika Stone on Woodhouse Crag, with a symmetrical layout so unusual that it has often been attributed to the Iron Age despite the presence of imitations on other rocks in `classic` cup-and-ring style."
Haddingham draws an interesting parallel with the Tree of Life Stone and the Death`s Head Stone on Snowden Moor north of the River Wharfe.
"The skull-like Death`s Head marking may be an attempt to produce a symmetrical pattern, based on a triangle, fairly similar to the Swastika Stone. Are these outlying cup-and-ring marks therefore decadent and degenerate copies of the Ilkley Moor rocks, or could they be primitive early attempts?"
My readers will not need me to remind them that the Swastika or Sun Wheel in its various manifestations is an extremely ancient Aryan symbol and can be found on rock carvings all over northern Europe. There is no reason at all to suggest that the Swastika Stone has such a recent origin as the Iron Age. These islands have been inhabited by Aryans for thousands of years prior to the coming of the Romans and they are responsible for the building of Phases I and II of Stonehenge.
The Death`s Head or Totenkopf is likewise and ancient Germanic symbol as is the Tree of Life.
The Rev. Stephen Taylor states in his The Fylfot File that:
"The Ilkley Swastika Stone is far from being an isolated example of the close link between the number `nine` and Fylfot-Crosses, labrynths, and sacred knots.. The curvilinear Fylfot-Cross may be signifying, amongst other things, the unity of opposites in all four directions, balancing the central point."
The four arms of the Swastika Stone do point to the four cardinal directions. Nine of course is a sacred number to the Germanic peoples and especially to Woden, the Totenkopf being a symbol associated with Him. Taylor points out that 80 examples of this type of swastika rock carving have been found in Valcamonica in Italy, 16 of which are practically identical to the Swastika Stone.This part of Italy was settled very early on by Indo-Europeans. The author also has identified a faded version of the Swastika Stone just one mile away from Ilkley Moor on the Badger Stone. Examples of this kind of swastika have been found sculpted on church walls such as at Little Waltham Chuch in Essex. We must not forget that the church builders did utilise stones from megaliths and it is quite possible that these cavings date back thousands of years.
Some critics may point to the theory that as in the 2nd century CE a the Second Cohort of Lingones from Italy was stationed at the Roman fort at Ilkley that this explains the carving`s origins but they cannot explain the occurrence of similar swastika carvings in parts of Britain not occupied by Rome. So their theory is just that-a theory!