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 

Mauns Stone, New Deer, Aberdeenshire

Legendary Rock (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NJ 89397 49502

Also Known as:

  1. Crawey Stone
  2. Crawford Putting Stone
  3. Crawstane
  4. Devils Putting Stone

Archaeology & History

Stone shown on 1874 map

A site whose main claim to fame is its legendary nature.  Seemingly buried or destroyed around the end of the 19th century, there have been suspicions that the stone might have had cup-marks on it (see Folklore below), but we’re not sure.  Modern lore tells that when roadworks were done here in the 1950, a large stone was uncovered.  A local man who was passing by told that he’d seen the Crawey Stone in his youth and that the stone they’d uncovered was one and the same.

Folklore

The story that used to be told amongst local people was thankfully preserved in an article by the pseudonymous “Mormond” (1889) in Scottish Notes & Queries.  He told that:

“In the parish of New Deer, and in a field near the Old Castle of Fedderat, there is a large boulder of ten or twelve tons known as the Crawey Stone.  I am unable to say if it still occupies its old site, or if it has been broken up for building purposes.  The legend connected with this stone used to be well known in the parish, and a version of it appeared in The Aberdeen Magazine some 70 or 80 years ago.  This version is substantially the same as the legend known in the district, and relates how a Crawford, the lord of the castle and lands, one day “as he looked o’er his castle wa’ ” — a phrase which often occurs in old ballads — observed a crunkled carl (old woman or witch, PB) inspecting the stone and afterwards successfully lifting up one end clear of the ground.  Not to be conquered by such a shabby looking stranger, the laird, who was famed for his athletic powers, went out and challenged the carl; but on attempting to lift the boulder, burst a blood vessel; and the carl, who stood by watching him, suddenly disappeared in a flash of fire taking the remains of the laird along with her.  The tradition is that the laird was not mourned for in the district, and the moral drawn was “He couldna hae expected ony ither en’.”  When passing the boulder going to school, the legend was often referred to, and some indentations on it pointed out as the marks of the ill man’s fingers made at the time the superhuman feat was accomplished.”

These finger marks have been taken as possible cup-markings.  They might have been, but we simply don’t know; they may just have been curious natural markings that gave rise to this animistic creation myth.  Another tale told that the markings were due to an old giant in the neighbourhood who used the rock as a putting stone and rolled it to the spot where it used to stand.  Giants are always attached to indigenous creation myths, some of which go back thousands of years.

In the OS Name Book for Aberdeenshire written in the late 1860s, they told how the Maun Stone is,

“a large Stone of a roundish shape, built on an old fence, forming a side of the Public road leading from New Deer to Brocklay.  Tradition asserts that it has been the putting Stone of a Giant in ancient times.  There are Several holes in the Stone said to be the finger marks of the Giant.”

References:

  1. Mormond, A., “Legends and Rhymes Connected with Travelled Boulders“, in Scottish Notes & Queries, volume 2, 1889.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian