In this present study, a novel approach of measuring through-thickness residual stresses based on the general strain relaxation methodologies has been described. This new method is an amalgam of the conventional deep hole drilling technique and the contour method with a reduced degree of damage to the component made during measurements. The annular deformation of a reference hole made at the measurement location has been interpreted as the displacement boundary conditions in a two-dimensional finite element model. In this regard, a thick, partially plastic four-point bent bar specimen was used to validate the proposed method. Through-thickness axial residual stresses induced in the bar were measured using the proposed technique and were observed to be in a reasonably close match with the theoretical and DHD results. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.