A £2 million grant could help experts understand the riddle of the strange carved stones which pepper the moors above Ilkley.
The Swastika Stone [pics], cup and ring markings and stone circles have all contributed to making Ilkley Moor a combination of natural and man-made landscape.
The carved stones date from around the Iron Age [?], and little is known about the role they played in the lives of the prehistoric inhabitants of Ilkley.
The Pennine Prospects Group, of which Bradford Council is a member, wants to study the artefacts as as part of a major project covering moorland in the South Pennines.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has earmarked £1.97m for the South Pennines Watershed Landscape scheme, which is subject to a full application being submitted. The HLF is also funding £100,000 towards developing the plan. The study would develop understanding of the archaeology of the moor and to protect vulnerable sites.
Gavin Edwards, archaeology museum officer at Ilkley’s Manor House Museum, said part of the money would be used to conduct a benchmark survey of the stone sites “to get a better understanding of the state of the stones.”
It would help devise ways of minimising further deterioration including creating more secure footpaths to deter people from walking across sensitive sites.
A new community archaeologist would bring together people to pool resources to get a better understanding of the landscape and share it with the community, said Mr Edwards.
Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, Bradford Council’s executive member for environment and culture, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to safeguard the future of the district’s unique moorland.
“By increasing our understanding of its history and its nature we can ensure that it is conserved in the best way possible for future generations while still enjoying it now.”