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The stress distribution around a 50% blind‐hole pit in a steel pipe with a 9 mm wall has been studied using high‐resolution magnetic Barkhausen noise (MBN) measurements. A magnetic disk read‐head is used as the pick up coil in the MBN probe. The study shows a stress concentration factor of ∼2 at the defect edge perpendicular to the direction of applied stress and ∼-0.6 at the edge parallel to the same. The experimental results are consistent with the analytical solutions obtained by the Airy’s stress function approach. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.