Broomridge (1), Ford, Northumberland

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NT 97298 37110

Archaeology & History

In 1863, a bunch of reputable Victorian authors and antiquarians met with the Duke of Northumberland in Alnwick Castle to discuss the matter of making decent images of the petroglyphs which, at the time, had only just been rediscovered in the area.  At one of their meetings, the floor in one of the Castle rooms was covered with rubbings of carvings that they’d made—this one included.  I’d loved to have been there!  Subsequently, from this meeting, sketches of this carving were done and included in the works by George Tate (1864; 1865) and then a few years later in J. Collingwood Bruce’s (1869) rare tome that had been published with the help of dosh from the Duke.

Found along a raised geological ridge running roughly east-west, a number of other carvings are close by and well worth looking at when you visit here.  The basic (and first) description of the site by Tate told that here,

Tate’s 1864 sketch
Collingwood’s 1869 image

“on a high ridge on Hunter’s Moor, a large surface of rock, some forty yards by twenty, having a gentle slope to the northward, is partially uncovered.  In one part, which has been entirely cleared of turf, fourteen figures are scattered over an area of 15 feet by about from 5 to 7 feet.  Some of the figures are of the common type, one of which is 28 inches in diameter; but others present new features; and several are curiously united by straight and curved grooves.  Across the entire diameter of a group of four concentric circles, runs a groove connecting them with other combined figures.  An irregularly shaped, rounded, angular figure, encloses two hollows or cups; and united to this is a broad oval figure.  One figure around four cups approaches to the reniform.”

When the modern rock art expert Stan Beckensall wrote about this site, he mentioned how his own picture of the carving consisted of a number of elements that weren’t included by the 19th century pioneers—which isn’t unusual.

References:

  1. Beckensall, Stan, Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings – A Mystery Explained, Pendulum: Rothbury 1983.
  2. Beckensall, Stan, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland – volume 1, Abbey Press: Hexham 1991.
  3. Bruce, John Collingwood, Incised Markings on Stone; found in the County of Northumberland, Argylshire, and other Places, privately printed: London 1869.
  4. Tate, George, “The Ancient British Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders,” in Proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 5, 1864.
  5. Tate, George, The Ancient British Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders, Henry Hunter Blair 1865.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Jedburgh Abbey, Roxburghshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NT 6504 2045

Archaeology & History

A little-known cup-and-ring stone that was uncovered in the forecourt of Jedburgh Abbey by Walter Laidlow in 1903, now lies all but forgotten in the abbey grounds.  Laidlow’s original description of his find was very basic indeed: “a sculptured stone, with incised ring-and cup-symbols… of yellow sandstone, 1 foot 8 inches long, 9½ inches broad, 4 inches thick.”  The Royal Commission (1956) lads did slightly better, saying:

“A slab of stone… measures 1ft 8½in by 9½in by 4in, and bears on one face six cup-marks ranging from 1in to 2½in in diameter.  The largest of these is encircled by a ring 5in in diameter, in “pocked” technique; while slight traces of what may have been a similar ring can be seen around another cup, which is fractured.”

Laidlow’s 1903 photo

You can see from the photograph how the stone has been broken from a larger piece, strongly suggestive of a greater prehistoric design on the original slab—but there have been no subsequent finds that might show us its original form.  In all likelihood, the stone originally came from a prehistoric tomb, but we know not where that might have been—much like the Mathewson’s Garden carving, also in Jedburgh.

The carving apparently still lies somewhere in the Abbey grounds, sleeping, but I’ve not visited the olde stone so I don’t know its exact position.  If any local folk can tell us more, that would be great!

References:

  1. Laidlaw, Walter, “Sculptured and Inscribed Stones in Jedburgh and Vicinity,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 39, 1905.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring Marks and Similar Sculptures of South-West Scotland,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 14, 1967.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties – part 2,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  5. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Roxburghshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1956.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Mathewson’s Garden, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – c. NT 65 20

Archaeology & History

Apart from the petroglyph found at Jedburgh Abbey in 1903, there’s a distinct lack of known cup-and-ring stones in this area; so when the petroglyph pioneer George Tate was in town in 1860, he was fortunate to find a small “portable” stone with a rather impressive design on it.  We don’t (yet) know the exact position of where the stone was located, as Tate simply told how,

“Lying among a heap of stones in Mr. Adam Mathewson’s garden, I detected, on a much weather-worn block, defaced sculpturing of the same family character as those in Northumberland.  …There are five concentric circles, central cup, radial grooves, and a string of cups around the outer circle.  Forty years ago this stone was built into the wall of a house; but whence it originally came is not known.  Doubtless it belongs to the district, and probably had been connected with an interment.”

His final remark would seem most likely and has subsequently been echoed by several other rock art students.  A few years after Tate’s initial find, the carving was mentioned in Sir James Simpson’s (1867) classic work, who told us:

Dr Falla’s 1866 sketch

“Sometime ago Mr Tate, of Alnwick, discovered in the garden of Mr Matthewson at Jedburgh a stone cut with concentric circles, possibly a sepulchral cist, but peculiar in some respects.  The stone is roundish, but broken off at one side, and about eighteen inches broad.  Its face is covered by five incised concentric rings, and through the central cup pass at right angles two straight lines, which completely bisect all the circles.  The outermost circle is about fourteen inches in diameter.  Some inches to the left of the central cup is a second, with one incised circle around it.  Arranged circularly outside of the outermost circle is a series or ring of points or stars, each cut out—so Dr Falla writes me—”as with a single stroke of a pick, rather than hewn out.” I am indebted to the same gentleman for the sketch of this stone.”

Subsequently all other written accounts repeat the same basic description—and each account remained (as we still are) perplexed as to its original location, wondering where on Earth the Rev Adam Mathewson’s garden was in Jedburgh (surely someone must be able to find out?!).  Thankfully the carving itself has been saved and presently lives in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.  Whether it ever had any relationship with the petroglyph at Jedburgh Abbey, we don’t yet know.

References:

  1. Laidlaw, Walter, “Sculptured and Inscribed Stones in Jedburgh and Vicinity,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 39, 1895.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring Marks and Similar Sculptures of South-West Scotland,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 14, 1967.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring and Similar Early Sculptures of Scotland; Part 2 – The Rest of Scotland except Kintyre,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 16, 1969.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties – part 2,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
  5. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  6. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Roxburghshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1956.
  7. Simpson, J.Y., “On Ancient Sculpturings of Cups and Concentric Rings,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 6, 1866.
  8. Simpson, James, Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, etc., Upon Stones and Rocks in Scotland, England and other Countries, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1867.
  9. Tate, George, “The Ancient British Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders,” in Transactions of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 5, 1864.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Ballakelly, Santon, Isle of Man

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SC 32144 71990

Also Known as:

  1. Oatland

Archaeology & History

This carving is one that was found inside the remains of a chambered cairn and so, as with all things petroglyphic, it deserves its very own site profile.  It’s been mentioned before—in fact many times before, from the legendary J.T. Blight (1868) to our modern researchers—although it was curiously absent in Ron Morris’ (1989) otherwise excellent survey.  When Mr Blight described the tomb, he told us that,

“Its outer ring, of which but three or four stones are left, was about 45 feet in diameter; the inner one 15 feet, with a kistvaen in its midst.  As on the external face of one of the uprights of the inner circle there are rows of cup carvings … it may be presumed that this was always exposed to view.”

Position of cups in the tomb
E.L. Barnwell’s 1868 sketch

The same year, Barnwell (1868) mentioned the same carvings—albeit briefly—telling us “that one of the stones has several rows of the curious cups.”  The design faced to the north, which is the traditional direction relating to Death in most northern hemisphere cultures.

As you can see, this design is similar to other petroglyphs that some students have suggested have a numeric nature (see the Idol Stone on Ilkley Moor for example).  You can understand why!  The basic linearity of the cups, in rows, certainly gives that impression and indeed it’s not unreasonable to make such an assumption—but, as always, we simply don’t know.  A similar design was found on a stone at Ballagawne in the parish of Kirk Arbory, but the cups were much deeper and deemed as being a medieval game played on stone, known as Nine Man’s Morris.  The original function of the game may have been divinatory.

References:

  1. Barnwell, E.L., “Notes on the Stone Monuments in the Isle of Man,” in J.G.,Cumming (ed.) Antiquitates Manniae, London 1868.
  2. Blight, J.T., “Stone Circles and Megalithic Remains,” in Gentleman’s Magazine 1868.
  3. Cubbon, A. M., Prehistoric Sites in the Isle of Man, Manx Museum: Douglas 1971.
  4. Cumming, J.G. (ed.), Antiquitates Manniae, Manx Society: London 1868.
  5. Gale, J. & Darvill, T., “A Survey of the Ballakelly Chambered Tomb,” in Darvill, & T. Billown (eds.), Neolithic Landscape Project, Isle of Man, 1997, Bournemouth University 1998.
  6. Henshall, A. S., “Manx Megaliths Again: An Attempt at Structural Analysis,” in P. Davey (ed.), Man and Environment in the Isle of Man, BAR: Oxford 1978.
  7. Kermode, P.M.C., “The Ancient Monuments of the Isle of Man,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 84, 1929.
  8. Kermode, P.M.C. & Herdman, W.A., Manks Antiquities, University of Liverpool 1914.
  9. Simpson, James, Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, etc., Upon Stones and Rocks in Scotland, England and other Countries, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1867.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Pen Twyn, Bargoed, Glamorgan

Cup-Marked Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SO 1491 0045

Archaeology & History

Sometime in the 1940s, a certain Lady A. Fox recorded a cup-marked stone “in the vicinity of Pen-twyn” near Bargoed.  Its position in the landscape is a good one: on a geological promontory and overlooking the valley below.  The find was indexed by the Ordnance Survey, but apart from it’s grid-reference, all attempts to locate the design have so far proved unsuccessful.

It was mentioned briefly in the Royal Commission (1976) survey of Glamorgan, then subsequently listed in the surveys of Sharkey (2004) and Nash (2007), but none of them were able to locate it.  And hence, I post it here, in the hope that some local hunter will be able to recover it from its hiding place!

References:

  1. Mazel, A., Nash, G. & Waddington, C. (eds.), Art as Metaphor: The Prehistoric Rock Art of Britain, ArchaeoPress: Oxford 2007.
  2. Nash, George, “A Scattering of Images: the Rock Art of Southern Britain,” in Art as Metaphor, ArchaeoPress: Oxford 2007.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Wales, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan – Volume 1: Pre-Norman, Part 1: The Stone and Bronze Ages, HMSO: Cardiff 1976.
  4. Sharkey, John, The Meeting of the Tracks: Rock Art in Ancient Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch: Llanrwst 2004.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Careg Bica, Dyffryn Clydach, Glamorgan

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SS 72500 99602

Archaeology & History

An interesting new cup-marked stone found by Paul Blades is this smooth rounded (female) stone that may originally have had some relationship with the tall standing stone of Careg Bica 160 yards to the south.  Around ten cup-marks are etched onto its surface, in a seemingly random arrangement (as usual!).  Although it seems to be an isolated carving, it’s likely that others will exist in the area.

Carving & outlying monolith
Careg Bica petroglyph

The direction and proximity of the standing stone may have had some relationship with the carving.  In traditional northern hemisphere societies, the cardinal direction North is generally associated with darkness and death, primarily due to the fact that this is the area in the heavens where neither sun or moon ever appear; whilst South relates to life and positive natural associations due to it being the high point of the sun during the day. This animistic attribute existed till recently in the water-lore of northern England and Scotland where “south-running streams bore a high repute.”  Whilst such mythic attributes are well established, any cardinal relationship here is purely speculative.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to Paul Blades for use of his photos in this site profile – and of course for finding the stone!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Table Rock, Rivock, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid reference – SE 07326 44696

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.43 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Table Rock cupmarked stone

If you’re coming via the Keighley-Bingley (Airedale) road, go up to Riddlesden and then up the winding Banks Lane until it meets the edge of the moors.  At the T-junction, turn left and about 330 yards along on your right there’s a dirt-track.  Walk up here, sticking to the track (not the footpath) towards the cliffs of Rivock ahead of you, going through the gate and into the Rivock woods area.  About 450 yards on from the gate on your right-hand side you’ll see the long straight length of walling that runs uphill—and about 60 yards up here, on the left-hand side of the wall you’ll see a very large boulder.  Y’ can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

2 of the several cups here

This large natural block, embedded into the hillside about 80 yards below the Wondjina Stone and its companions, is nothing much in the petroglyphic visual scale of things, but is worth checking out for a break if you’re checking out the other good designs in the Rivock cluster.  Upon its sloping flat two-tiered surface there are just a small number of randomly spaced cup-marks of varying sizes: six at least, but perhaps as many as nine altogether.  In times gone by (many years ago) we thought one of them might have had a very faint ring around it, but on my last couple of visits here I couldn’t see anything.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

Rivock Top, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0745 4470

Getting Here

Rivock Top stone

Best approached via the Wondjina Stone, then over the wall and follow the geological ridge that bends into the trees.  It’s difficult to find amidst the dense forest and is another one of those carvings that’s probably only for the purists amongst you.

Archaeology & History

If you’re doing the Rivock rock art tour, you might as well give this a go once you’ve checked ou the decent ones nearby.   Here, on a rather large stone we find, on its uppermost ridge, three faint cup-marks next to each other in a very slight curve.  The cup-mark in the middle is slightly larger than its two compatriots and might be natural.  If you were to wet the rock when the sunlight is just right, you’ll probably get a better idea of its real appearance—otherwise we’ll have to let the computer-gadget lads suss it out!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Mixing Stone, Low Snowden, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Bowl Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18074 51241

Getting Here

Follow the directions to reach the Ancestors’ Stone and the Sunrise Stone; and there, roughly halfway between them, right by the edge of the old collapsed walling, you’ll see this rise of a stone with a large ‘bowl’ on top.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Mixing Stone, looking E

Laid upon the same geological ridge as our Ancestors’ and Sunrise carvings, there are one, possibly two faint cup-marks visible on the low flat surface near the edge of this rock, barely visible unless the light’s right.  But the important element here, perhaps regardless of the cup-marks, is the ‘bowl’ or rock basin on top of the stone.  Internally, it’s smoothed equally on all sides and, due to being in-between the two impressive petroglyphs, may well have had a practical function to it.  Bear with me on this one…

The Mixing Stone’s bowl

Stone ‘bowls’ or cavities—natural and otherwise—have been made use of in many cultures for simple functional purposes, such as grinding flour, herbal mixes, etc.  We find such traditions in some of the bullauns of Ireland and Scotland; whereas in similar stone bowls known as cat troughs in nearby Haworth, milk was poured to appease the spirits of the land (this tradition was still being maintained in 2001!).  Folklore and traditions of such rock basins spread far and wide beyond the UK: one of the German terms for rock basins is Opferkessel, meaning ‘sacrificial basin’ and suggests ritualistic usage by early societies.  Elsewhere on Earth there are numerous accounts of the ritual use of petroglyphs in which indigenous peoples tell of their use of plant- or rock-based paints (in many cases red ochre) to decorate the carvings.  And it’s this element that I’m interested in here.

Water-painted cupmarks

The Sunrise and Ancestors’ Stones 10-15 yards either side of this Mixing Stone are ideal candidates for such petroglyphic paintings using early ochre and other stone or plant-based agents.  Such activities would always have been ritualised, either in honour of ancestors, genius loci, calendrical rites, or whatever the pertinent ingredient was at that place and time.  I’m suggesting simply that the rock basin on the Mixing Stone was used for just such purposes.  This is no spurious suggestion, but at the same time it’s important to recognise that my thoughts here represent merely an idea, nothing more—not a fact.  Whilst we know full well that these carvings were imbued fundamentally with animistic properties—a simple ‘fact’—this functional idea is just that—an idea.  Students and petroglyph-nuts need to understand this.  And the faded cup-marks at its edge are perhaps merely incidental…. though I don’t buy that misself!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Ancestors’ Stone, Low Snowden, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid-Reference – SE 18083 51229

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.606 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

The Ancestors Stone

If you’re coming up from Otley or Askwith, take the same directions as if you’re going to visit the impressive Naked Jogger Carving (stone 612), not far from the well-known Tree of Life Stone.  From the Naked Jogger carving, walk up to the small outcrop of rocks that bends above you.  There’s a small collapsed line of walling just behind the outcrop.  Walk along this up the slope as if you’re heading for the Sunrise Stone carving, but only 30 yards along, low down and right into the edge of the wall itself, you’ll see this elongated piece of stone.  That’s the spot!

Archaeology & History

If you’ve caught the petroglyph-bug, you’ll like this one!  It received its name from the curious fusion of natural cracks with the man-made pecked lines that shows, quite distinctly when the light is right and the stone is wet, the outline of two humanesque forms joined to each other.  Figurative rock engravings of ancestors in the UK are extremely rare and when we came across this example, we noticed how the design could be interpreted as two Askwith Moor ancestor figures. Figurative rock art images elsewhere in the world such as the magnificent Wandjina paintings and the extensive galleries of figures engraved at Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula) in Western Australia, might provide an initial comparison, though more specific work needs to be done to better understand this unique petroglyph.

Sketch of the carving

You can almost make out the figures in the above photo: the upper torsos of two beings on the right-hand side of the rock, almost fused together.  And the carved shapes of these “ancestral beings” are morphically similar to some elements in the Sunrise Stone just 50 yards away – which themselves remind me of a Northumbrian carving near Doddington known as West Horton 1a. (Beckensall 1991)  But we should’t get too carried away by the idea because—as we can see here in the sketch of the carving—when looked at from a different angle above, we could infer the right-hand carved elements to be representative of an animal: a deer, perhaps.  Rorscharch’s once more tickle the exploring mind….

The rock has been quarried into at same time in the past (just like the nearby Sunrise Stone), leaving us to wonder what the complete carving might have looked like.  No doubt some pieces of it will be in the collapsed walling either side of the stone.  All we have left to see are the two unfinished cup-and-rings above the natural cracks that give rise to the “ancestral being” appearance.  The faint double cup-and-ring has curious linear arcs to its side, with two well-defined cups enclosed by two of them.  It’s a nice-looking carving when the light is good.  The petroglyph was carved over a long period of time, as evidenced by the differing levels of erosion in different sections of the design.  It’s a common attribute.  The oldest section is the faint double cup-and-ring, whose mythic nature was added to / developed at a much later date, perhaps even centuries later.

In the always-expressive archaeocentric description of Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) otherwise valuable tome, they told this carving to be,

“Long, narrow, thick rock of medium grit. Six cups, one with a double ring with a tab out and two with at least partial single rings, grooves.”

Evocative stuff!

It’s very likely that this carving had some mythic relationship with its close neighbours either side of it, probably over a very long time period and I’m inclined to think it somehow related to the rising of the sun, just like its solar companion further up the slope.  Please note how I emphasize this ingredient in the site profile of its neighbour, the Mixing Stone 10-15 yards away—roughly halfway between this and the Sunrise Stone.   A distinct place of ritual was happening in this close-knit cluster of carvings…

References:

  1. Beckensall, Stan, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland – volume 1, 1991.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  3. Reeder, Phil, “Snowden Carr Rock Carvings,” in Northern Earth Mysteries, no.40, 1990.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian