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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Rock Articles

Issue No.15: April 2016

Dear All,
Spring is upon us bringing more light and longer days to spend wandering and pondering...To get you in the mood, check out
Aoinbheann (pronounced ‘Eeven’) Lambe’s account (p 5) of discoveries in south west Ireland. There are clearly still plenty of cups
and rings awaiting re-discovery! An unusual ‘grid’ motif in Tynedale was a well-deserved reward for the stirling efforts of the
Tynedale North of the Wall Archaeology group (see p3). Meanwhile Steve Dickinson’s observations of curious markings in Eskdale (p
8) give pause for thought: might they have been significant to prehistoric groups visiting the fells in search of stone? Gav Robinson
reports on an excavation in County Durham, and Mike Howgate concludes his series of geology focussed articles with his ideas on
the purpose of rock art: one more to add to the infamous Ronald Morris list of 104 meanings?
April 2016


The Birney Stone captured by Ian Hobson............................................................................................... 1

New British discoveries: Tynedale, Eskdale, and County Kerry .................................................................. 2

British rock art news: a rare motif in Tynedale (Phil Bowyer) and some miniature Mesolithic markings ..... 2
World rock art on the web: international news and links ........................................................................... 4

The undiscovered county: finding rock art in Kerry by Aoinbheann Lambe............................................. 5

Expressing the sacred? Strange markings in the Cumbrian mountains: by Steve Dickinson ............ 8

Rock art reads ........................................................................................................................................ 10

Carved in the landscape: by Gav Robinson .......................................................................................... 11

Rock art abstracts: headlines from the journals ...................................................................................... 14

A geological origin for rock art? Part 3: by Mike Howgate ................................................................. 15

Inspired by rock art: Ketley light tracing by Ian Hobson ........................................................................ 17
Dates for the diary ................................................................................................................................. 18

The Birney Stone
This massive carved
boulder was found at
Birney Hill, Ponteland, in
2015 (see Issue 13). It
now sits outside the Great
North Museum (previously
The Hancock Museum) in
Newcastle Upon Tyne.
This image was created
by Ian Hobson using a
long exposure, side lit by
handheld torchlight to
show up the cups and
rings beautifully.
See more of Ian’s
creations at and on
page 17 of this issue.

See also Flickr: &

Issue No 15: Spring 2016


As always, grid references are not included but the locations of all panels references are recorded on the relevant HER database.

Tynedale, Northumberland
This unusual ‘grid’ motif was identified during recent surveys by the Tynedale North of the Wall
Archaeology Group. Read more about the discovery in an article by Phil Bowyer on in Rock Art News on
page 3.

County Kerry
Aiobheann Lambe keeps findng more panels in South West Ireland. She describes some of these, and
has a few hints for would-be rock art hunters on page 5.

Eskdale, Cumbria
What are these mysterious markings? The panel was spotted by Steve Dickinson amongst boulders (a
possible cairn) in Eskdale, close to the areas where stone was procured for axe production. Steve
explores this amazing upland location further on page 8.

BRITISH ROCK ART NEWS: Projects, publications, and people
Rock art in miniature: high tech analysis reveals new details for engraved Mesolithic pendant from Star Carr
A rare example of an engraved shale pendant––the
earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain—has been subject
to intensive analysis.
The pendant was found in 2015 during excavations at the
Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr in North Yorkshire. The
piece of perforated shale, measuring 31 x 35mm, is
believed to date to around 9000BC. It was deposited into
shallow water, at least half a metre deep and
approximately 10m from the lake shore.
Digital imaging techniques, including Reflectance
Transformation Imaging (RTI), white light 3D scanning,
light microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM),
have been used to examine the engravings. Microwear
and residue analyses were also undertaken to determine
whether the pendant showed signs that it had been strung
or worn, and whether the lines had been made more
visible through the application of pigments.

Enhanced image of the pendant (Milner et al. 2016: fig. 13)

The results have now been published in the online journal Internet Archaeology. Analysis enabled researchers to detect
superimposition and allowed a reconstruction of the order in which the engraved lines were applied.
The 'barbed line' motif is comparable to styles on the Continent, particularly in Denmark, which was connected to Britain at the
time by Doggerland. Manchester University’s Dr Chantal Conneller, co-director of the excavations, said: ‘The designs on our
pendant are similar to those found in southern Scandinavia and other areas bordering the North Sea, showing a close cultural
connection between northern European groups at this time.’ Nicky Milner, Professor of Archaeology at York University suggests
the pendant may have belonged to a shaman.
For a detailed discussion of the techniques used, downloadable 3D models, and many more images, see Milner, N. et
al. (2016). A unique engraved shale pendant from the site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain, Internet Archaeology


Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Rare ‘grid’ motif found in Tynedale

Report from Phil Bowyer, Tynedale North of the Wall
Archaeology Group.
During the Tynedale North of the Wall Archaeology
Group 2015 survey north of Sewingshields Crags we
identified a probable 14m diameter ploughed-out
cairn with a large stone on its south-western edge.
The exposed surface of the stone bore a single cupmark. Further professionally supervised investigation
revealed the stone to be more highly decorated than
originally thought.
Careful examination identified more than 30 simple
cup marks and a number of incised grooves which
appear to be of human origin, rather than the result
of natural processes. These grooves have
serpentine shapes, one being more pronounced with
indications of the groove being broadened into a
head-like form at its base. The peck marks within the
head-like region are still very clear.
In the central area bounded by these serpentine
grooves there is what appears to be a ‘grid’ or
‘checkerboard’ motif. This is of itself extremely rare
with only one other such example in Northumberland
at Fowberry Enclosure.
After examination the stone was carefully re-turfed
under professional supervision. The motifs on the
lower part of the stone show little sign of erosion
with numerous peck marks still being clearly visible.
It is therefore important that its turf covering
remains undisturbed to protect the stone’s value for
future research. The stone is located on private land.

Right: Fully exposed panel,
with detail of the ‘grid’ motif.
Below: Drawing produced from rubbing
created by Anne Bowyer.

The 10m wide ridge and furrow covering the location of the stone and
the surrounding terrain is suggestive of medieval ploughing. There are,
however, subtle indications of both north-south and east-west linear
features that may well represent the remains of earlier boundary
features. This raises interesting questions about the chronology and
relationships between the cairn, the linear boundaries and the
decorated stone. Our group would be keen to pursue these questions
by further investigation at a later date.

Hot off the press: an HLF Sharing Heritage application
submitted by the group has just been accepted. The one year
project, ‘Beyond the Wall’ will involve further survey work in the
Edges Green area plus a rock art recording element to update
the England’s Rock Art database. Watch this space for further
details or find out more about the group’s activities at


Issue No 15: Spring 2016


News from Hawaii, Italy, Spain, and the Sahara

Giant Hawaiian waves briefly reveal ancient rock art
A recent, rare appearance of several petroglyphs on the Kona Coast of Big Island has
created much excitement in Hawaii. Social media has been buzzing with reports by
surfers, beachcombers, and rock-art enthusiasts all sharing pictures of the glyphs.
Normally covered by over 10 feet of sand, the rock art was briefly revealed by unusually
strong waves. Only 24 hours later, they were buried once again. The petroglyphs were
last seen in 2010 and in 2004.
Around 70 petroglyphs are believed to lie along the shore. First documented by
archaeologists in 1970, they include depictions of people and dogs and are thought to
record births and other significant events in the lives of Native Hawaiians. Similar
petroglyphs are found in the tens of thousands on lava bedrock throughout the islands.

Photo: Avi Salvio/Facebook.

PITOTI Project closes with public event
The final event of the PITOTI project was held in Cambridge in January. The team
demonstrated many of the novel outcomes of the project, and the day included a
live performance of rock engraving which was then scanned with a high-resolution
scanner and processed using novel techniques in real-time.
The €2.9m project involved a multidisciplinary team of over 30 scientists from
across Europe and focused on rock art in the Valcamonica Valley, Italy. The
project which aimed to build an affordable and portable multi-scale 3D scanning
toolkit for high resolution acquisition of rock art and its context.
Find out more, watch videos, and download 3D models at the project website:

Spanish houses
A Palaeolithic engraving from north-eastern Spain has been interpreted as the first
representation of a human social group. Seven crude, semi-circular motifs scattered
across the surface of a small slab are believed to represent the dome-shaped huts
where prehistoric families lived. A 13,800 year old hunter-gatherer encampment has
been excavated at the site. The schist slab measures around 432 x 76 X 33mm.
Analysis suggests that the engraving was produced very quickly. Archaeologists believe
that the prehistoric artist tried to show perspective.
Read more at:

'I'm studying rock art. Are there babies available?'
Analysis of 13 tiny hands stencilled in a Saharan rock shelter 8,000 years ago shows
that they're too small to be human, reports Kirstin Romey in National Geographic.
Anthropologist Emmanuelle Honoré  compared measurements from the art with the
hands of newborn human infants and premature babies. Medical researchers collected
the data: "If I went to a hospital and just said, 'I'm studying rock art. Are there babies
available?' they'd think I'm crazy and call security on me".
Honoré also looked at monkey paws and reptile feet. The closest match are the
forepaws of desert monitor lizards.  She is unable to say, however, whether the foot of a
live creature was used or whether the artist(s) opted for the convenience and safety of
a freshly severed limb.

Tiny hand stencilled inside human hands
Photograph: Emmanuelle Honoré

Issue No 15: Spring 2016

THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTY: finding rock art in Kerry, south west Ireland
Aoibheann Lambe, post graduate student, University College Cork

In 2012, while living in Kerry and researching local
archaeological sites for a local website, I began looking
for rock art. Taking a known panel at Liss as my starting
point, I selected a rocky outcrop in the local area that
looked like a good canvas. “Far away rocks are smooth”
I have come to learn. At an elevation of 150m and with
expansive views to the sea and across to Beara, the
outcrop of red sandstone is 20m long, with a fractured,
mossy surface littered with small bones. I couldn’t find
any rock art. Ravens circled noisily overhead and just as
I was leaving, I once more looked to the ground. Slowly,
as if coming into focus, cup-and-rings became
discernible (Figure 1). One, then two, then a third…
It wasn’t until 2013, when I accompanied archaeoastronomer, Prof. Clive Ruggles and members of the
Kerry Dark Sky Group on an outing, that I made another
find. John Sheehan of UCC had told me I would make
more finds and he was right. There were a number of
small earthfast boulders on the way to a stone row and
on one of these I found cup-marks and a cup-and-ring.
A quick look in the vicinity soon turned up a rock with
two cup-marks. Within the week, I had made a find in
the fields right across from my home in Caherdaniel the first example of rock art recorded in the area.
Figure 1. First find.
A romantic landscape with green hillocks, it is strewn
with rocks. The marked stone, by an old road and near a stream, has a view to the sea and Two Headed Island.
Not long after that I had my first ‘drive-by’ find: a large, flat-topped boulder by a stream near Lothar, close to the sea. It had
six cup-marks on its surface. Two more cup-marks, one large and clearly man-made, were on a small standing stone close by.
I started to make a lot of finds in March 2014. A talk I was giving
on rock art prompted me to visit known rock art locations. I had
more luck finding new examples of rock art than the ones
previously reported. Since then I have made some exciting finds
while plotting routes for archaeology walks - selecting landscapes
that I think could yield new finds. I recently discovered a new rock
art complex in this fashion. I also often make new discoveries when
making repeat visits to gather more information, take measurements etc. The area where I made my second ever find has since
yielded some intriguing new examples. In Figure 2, the rock is not
by a stream nor does it look over any water. It is, however, by a
townland boundary and may well have been selected due to its
prospect to the hill.

Figure 2. View to mountain

One evening, I took the Kerry Way walking route from home into
the village of Caherdaniel. I strayed off the route to examine a
pockmarked rock, then a rock etched with zig-zag marks next to a
rock on a wall with large natural solution pits, until finally I went
into the field on the far side. There, on a huge boulder, I found
over 60 cup-marks on the upper part of its south face, cup-marks
and a cup-and-ring on its west face, a radiating motif with over 16
cup-marks on its north face, with more cup-marks and grooves on
the lower part of its south face and 3 cup-marks on its top surface.
Until then, I had thought that rock art was intended to be seen at
whichever time of day the sun best highlighted the motifs. I
realized, however, that with engravings on so many surfaces, the
only way they could be seen at the same time was by torchlight.
This is now my preferred way of showing that stone - what I call
‘rock art by night’. Maybe that is how it was seen thousands of
years ago by the people who carved it. A rock of that size with so
many motifs must have been important. We are lucky it survives.
The rock was earmarked for destruction; only its proximity to an
electricity pole prevented this happening.


Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Figure 3. Photo taken when I first found the carvings

The immediate area of Caherdaniel now has seven recorded
examples of rock art. My neighbour’s land has yielded more
finds, including one in a field clearance cairn where I had to put
my hand into a narrow chasm between two huge rocks to feel
the cup-and-rings (Figure 4). Another local find was made
when a friend jokingly ‘ordered’ me to find some rock art on a
family farm near Caherdaniel village. The same day I was able
to report back to him with a find.
Once, when showing one of my finds to a friend and wanting
him to enjoy locating the rock himself, I went along for most of
the way and then let him go on ahead while I waited by a
ditch. There I noticed some ‘new’ rock art. He came back
having found nothing. By accident, I had brought him to the
wrong field.
In describing rock art, I tend to emphasise cup and cup-andring motifs over meandering lines. I think the latter are
overlooked as it they are more difficult to describe whereas
cups can simply be counted. The motifs of a find made
yesterday included a cup-and-ring, four cups and four parallel
grooves of the same length. Whereas the placing of the cupmarks did not appear to follow a pattern, these lines did.
Today, the visible portion of a find—located only 135m from a
lake's edge—has a series of meandering lines and pecked
shapes but is devoid of cups.

Figure 4. In the field behind my home

Some finds are more exciting than others. Some more purely
accidental and some are anticipated. I used to be disappointed
if I found ‘just’ a cup-mark but on a number of occasions I have
first found a cup-mark and later, nearby, a more elaborate
carving. It is as if the cup-mark signposted the way. Only this
week I found a beautiful cup and three rings with two radial
grooves close to a more conspicuous rock engraved with only a
pair of cup-marks. Or, as was the case for the panel in Figure 5
below, the cup is often the clue that there are more motifs on
the stone.


Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Today, rock art is often found in wildly
beautiful places - relict landscapes.
Land improvement is not good news
for archaeology. If you want to find
rock art, research can be done at
home e.g. by looking at maps of old
routes, mountain passes, streams and
lakes and figuring out where the likely
spots are. There are also quite a
number of archaeological records
where the townland is named but the
exact current location is unknown.
Nothing beats field walking. And if you
are going to look for rock art, I would
advise you to drop any ideas of having
an end destination. Look in all
directions. Whatever catches your eye
is your current destination. When you
get there, you’ll see the next one.
Figure 5. The cup is the clue

To date, I have found well over 50 examples of rock art in over 15 different townlands. Simply finding new examples of rock art
is not of itself my ultimate goal. It is good to have it registered and landowners tend to be pleasantly surprised that they have
such a monument on their land. I am very interested in gaining some insight into the people that made these engravings. The
more examples I see, the more I perceive patterns emerging. I also need to test some of my theories on the landscape setting
of rock art. I would love to survey the rock art of the whole of Ireland. Currently a post-graduate student in archaeology in
UCC, it is great to be exposed to a broad range of archaeology in the course of my studies. Wetland and environmental
archaeology also inform my research into rock art. I don’t presume to know what the motifs mean but I do baulk when people
describe any rock engraving, be it passage tomb art or rock art as ‘doodling’. Having sculpted stone myself and having tried
recently to make a cup-and-ring with stone tools, I can personally attest that this is something you do with intent. Would rock
art be as intriguing if we thought that the motifs were simply random? Cup-and-ring motifs are simple. You could say the same
of binary code. Once, for a short time, I thought I had found the meaning of rock art and I was not pleased at all.

Figure 6. Intersecting motifs with rosette

Figure 7. Aoibheann at work

There are more photographs and information on archaeology walks with Aoibheann on and on Facebook at

Issue No 15: Spring 2016

EXPRESSING THE SACRED? Strange markings in the Cumbrian mountains
Steve Dickinson
Concentrations of prehistoric rock art in northern Europe, for example, at Nämforsen (Sweden), Vingen & Alta (Norway) and
Northern Britain are long acknowledged to have special relationships with their often spectacular landscape contexts. From
coast to waterfall, from cliff to dale, the rocks and their markings are part of their landscapes. The geology of each place
certainly formed part of the creation of the art. We can surmise that the landscapes also influenced the stories worked into, and
enacted around them.
It has been recognised since 1947 that, in the heart of the Lake District,
Cumbria, from the mid fourth millennium BC, thousands of stone axe
blades were being fashioned from rock in mountain locations that, even
now, are extremely difficult to reach. The blades were formed from stone
from a zone of distinctive, blue-green volcanic rock (Seathwaite Fell Tuff)
that, from Langdale, threads its way for 15km in a great arc around
England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike (978m), before tailing off to the
north of the Langdale Pikes. Hundreds of axe blades sourced from this
zone have been found in many Neolithic contexts across the UK.

Figure 1. Scafell Pike: one of the sources of stone for axe production.

In 2015, whilst carrying out an archaeological reconnaissance survey of the Upper Eskdale valley system (3km south-west of Great
Langdale), a low, heavily vegetated 6 x 4m prehistoric platform-cairn (Figures 2) was located at around 428m OD near a distinctive
rock tor called Scar Lathing. Scar Lathing lies around 1km and 300m below the Seathwaite Fell Tuff band where it traverses the
mountain ridge below Esk Pike (885m). The tor lies directly above the point where the nearby River Esk plunges into a dramatic
gorge (Figure 2). The survey area is above contemporary and medieval cultivation levels, though traces of boundary creation,
stock herding, transhumance and peat-cutting are present.
The Scar Lathing cairn was created at the head of a roughly trapezoidal gully of boulders, just at the point when anyone climbing
the side of the gully would have seen the Scafell mountain ridge creating a jagged high skyline to the west and north-west (Figure
2). At this same point, a façade of eight small alternating tan-orange and grey-white boulders of Borrowdale Volcanic Group (BVG)
rock separates the cairn platform from the rocks in the gully.

Figure 2: The cairn in Upper Eskdale and its landscape context.


Issue No 15: Spring 2016

The rock of the second boulder from the east of the façade
comprises layers of bedded BVG tuff, with moss and lichen on
its surface. This rock, positioned facing up and out from the
façade, displays groups of weathered markings, including a
150mm x 120mm area of linear and curved grooves (Figure 3).
It is not clear how these were created. Did the creators of the
cairn select the rock and position it to show the markings,
setting them facing out and to the left of the cairn façade? We
have looked in the immediate vicinity and cannot find any
markings similar to these on the other cairn rocks.
Investigation of the BVG geology of the mountain ridge running
2.5km up to Esk Pike to the north-east of the cairn is revealing
extensive areas of bedded tuffs, alongside additional evidence
for prehistoric monument construction. Study of individual
elements of the geology near to, and along the line of, the
Seathwaite Fell Tuff have demonstrated occurrences of similar
markings to those found on the Scar Lathing boulder.
Figure 3. Above: RTI image of the panel by Aaron Watson; below:
detail of the features.

In assessing this new discovery and its contexts, a number of
questions need first to be addressed. As noted, the
circumstances within which the rock art was created include
both its landscape and, in the Scar Lathing case, selection from
that landscape, a process which arguably both encoded and
articulated how people in the past worked with and responded
to their surroundings. The Scar Lathing rock grooves as a whole
are paralleled in prehistoric marking, for example, on Grooved
Ware, and in engravings that mark boulders in passage and
other graves, ‘temples’, and ‘domestic’ spaces. These are
material expressions in response to a multitude of contexts. It is
therefore not easy to articulate prehistoric meanings, as the
medium usually holds no messages other than that those which
are read into it, or enacted from or around it. In Upper Eskdale
both the medium and the material is the ‘land-sky-scape’. These
elements meet in the rock, and it is in this context that the rock
art which forms part of the Scar Lathing cairn must be

Upper Eskdale (Figure 4) is a remarkable environment, where the mountains almost encircle Scar Lathing and its locality and
where the weather forms part of any experience. Here, the summits shift in and out of view; the views from those summits
likewise. Here, the extreme topography and seasonal shifts always impose challenges on those who wish to traverse and to live
amongst the mountains. The landscape (including what we would now term the geology) of Upper Eskdale includes both extremely
dramatic geomorphological landforms, and extremely convoluted, complex and colourful rock strata and rock surface effects. As
archaeologists become more confident about ascribing the sacred to places in prehistory that transcend much of contemporary
Western comprehension, the boundaries between prehistoric culture and nature no longer hold meaning.
It is possible to see how the monumental rock architecture
and extraordinary segregated, tiered spaces of Upper
Eskdale influenced prehistoric desires: hunting for special
rock and animals as part of sacred mountain-places, then
expressing and projecting that sacredness in both
monumental and portable forms. For, as with the other
European outdoor rock art localities noted above, Upper
Eskdale was where animals in prehistory, including humans,
came to what we can argue was a confluence of interior
and exterior sacred experience; at a shoreline, a waterfall, a
river gorge, at distinctive landmarks. It was here that
passage across liminal, often dangerous, spaces of peak,
boundary, animal action and purpose had to be negotiated.
Here, where trees ended, where mountains opened out and
upper air began, Neolithic people developed their desires
for having and holding part of that place’s sacredness - the
axe blades. Perhaps it is through this confluence that we
can start to see how, and maybe why, Scar Lathing’s
marked rock was chosen.

Figure 4: Upper Eskdale

Thanks to Aaron Watson for advice, photogrammetry, and RTI
to Richard Bradley for his encouragement and for advice on the BVG geology from Peter Wilson and Alan Smith.


Issue No 15: Spring 2016

ROCK ART READS: new and forthcoming publications
Ritual Landscapes and Borders Within Rock Art Research: Papers in Honour of Professor
Kalle Sognnes Helle Vangen Stuedal, Eva Lindgaard, Ragnhild Berge, Heidrun Steberglokken (ed.)
From Oxbow: Ritual landscapes and borders are recurring themes running through Professor Kalle
Sognnes' long research career. This anthology contains 13 articles written by colleagues from his
broad network in appreciation of his many contributions to the field of rock art research. The
contributions discuss many different kinds of borders: those between landscapes, cultures,
traditions, settlements, power relations, symbolism, research traditions, theory and methods.
ISBN 9781784911584; 196 pages; O Archaeopress Archaeology; Price GB £42 (paperback)

The archaeology and rock art of Swordfish Cave. University of Utah Anthropological
Papers #129. Clayton G. Lebow, Douglas R. Harro & Rebecca L. McKIm
From Amazon: Swordfish Cave is a well-known rock art site located on Vandenberg Air Force Base
in south-central California. Named for the swordfish painted on its wall, the cave is a sacred
Chumash site. When it was under threat and required measures to conserve it, nearly all of the
cave’s interior was excavated to create a rock art viewing area. That effort revealed previously
unknown rock art and made it possible to closely examine how early occupants used the space
inside the cave.
ISBN-10: 1607814579; ISBN-13: 978-160781457; 224 pages; The University of Utah Press; Price
(paperback): GB £46.50

Rock Art. A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape. Jonathan Bailey (ed.)
From Amazon: An anthology by noted Southwest writers and rock art experts on the destruction of
rock art sites by development, vandalism, and increasing visitation. Most rock art books look at the
imagery as two dimensional restricted to the icons and symbols as carved on the rock face. In
reality, the landscape is a vital clue, not only these people collectively, but also these people as
individuals. The canyon country does not contain sites and panels but rather a large inter-connected
cultural landscape.
ISBN-10: 1555664652; ISBN-13: 978-1555664657; 187 pages; Johnson Books; Price (paperback)
GB £20.87

Asiatic echoes. The identification of pictograms in pre-Columbian North American rock
writing John A. Ruskamp, Jnr.
From Amazon: For centuries, researchers have been debating if, in pre-Columbian times,
meaningful exchanges between the indigenous peoples of Asia and the Americas might have taken
place. Many sinologists have written positively on this topic, yet, so far, no conclusive proof has
been put forth establishing such trans-Pacific contact as a historical event. This book introduces
previously unrecognized ancient written evidence that in pre-Columbian times, multiple intellectual
exchanges took place between Chinese and North American populations.
ISBN-10: 152392445; ISBN-13: 978-1523924455; 276 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Platform; Price (paperback) GB £20

The pictured cliffs of Waterflow Lorna Gail LaDage & David Creighton Grenoble
From Amazon: First published in 2008 as a very limited printing for the American Rock Art Research
Association conference, The Pictured Cliffs of Waterflow is now available in a second printing. With
the stunning rock art photography of David Grenoble, and commentary by author Lorna Gail
LaDage, this large petroglyph site is celebrated, while it continues to suffer human and natural
damage. Explore the Pictured Cliffs of Waterfall as it may never be seen quite the same again.
ISBN-10: 1517316316; ISBN-13: 978-1517316310; 94 pages; CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Platform; Price (paperback) GB £12.94

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

CARVED INTO THE LANDSCAPE: the Hawkesley Hill Community Project
Gav Robinson, Northern Archaeological Associates Ltd.

A community archaeology project
developed as part of the Heart of
Teesdale Landscape Partnership
scheme was carried out in the
autumn of 2015 by Northern
Archaeological Associates (NAA) and
a small team of dedicated
volunteers. The project investigated
two rock art panels previously
discovered near Hawkesley Hill Farm
by Paul and Barbara Brown. The
carvings were located on a
promontory to the south of the farm
(NZ 03772069) and comprised a
handful of eroded cup and ring
marks and a few linear grooves on
two flat areas of partly overgrown
stone. Both Paul and Barbara kindly
helped out during the project lending
their expertise and dedication.

Figure 1: The two Hawkesley Hill panels (HH1 and HH2)

Professional archaeologists from NAA supervised and trained members from the local community in the various techniques used
to investigate the rock art and their landscape setting. The aim of the project was to expose and record all the carvings on the
known panels, to search for any other carvings in the vicinity, to investigate the area around the panels for ‘below ground’
evidence and to survey the surrounding 22ha field for ‘above ground’ evidence of potentially associated features.
After carefully removing turf from around the two panels, more carvings were identified on these and on another outcrop
nearby (HH3). After cleaning away the vegetation the carvings were recorded using a series of high quality digital images and
photo-processing software to produce accurate 3D images (Figure 2).

Polynomial texture mapping
Polynomial texture mapping (PTM), a recording technique that
was developed by Hewlett Packard Laboratories in 2001, was
also undertaken. This method is a type of reflectance
transformation imaging (RTI), a relatively new technique that
utilises multiple photographs of an object taken from a fixed
position with reflective objects placed next to it while being lit
from different angles (Figure 3). The images are then
processed and combined to enable a virtual light source to be
controlled by the user to inspect details upon the object.

Figure 3: Recording panel HH4 using RTI

Figure 2: 3D model of panel HH1

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Drone survey
For a ‘wider area survey’, the NAA aerial drone was flown over the site taking high-level digital photographs. These georeferenced images were then interpolated to produce a sub-cm accuracy 3D digital image of the field (Figure 4), akin to a
LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) survey This survey was used to produce detailed contour and earthwork surveys of the
project area.
Former field boundaries, evidence of ridge and furrow ploughing, quarrying and disturbance relating to the use of the area as a
military training ground in 1945 were identified. A walkover survey of the site and searches of the local Historic Environment
Record (HER), aerial photography and historic mapping of the wider area were also carried out to aid interpretation.
The combination of these techniques confirmed that the majority of the visible archaeology in the project area related to
medieval agriculture, post-medieval and later field systems, recent quarrying and features due to military activity (foxholes and
wheel ruts). Amongst these, however, were some features possibly of a prehistoric date including four more rocks with faint
eroded carvings, a possible small cairn, three quarries or cut platforms and a sequence of terraces downslope of the Hawkesley
Hill panels.

Figure 4: Results of drone survey
Following the recording and survey,
turf and topsoil were removed from
a small area around the two main
stones and one of the newly
identified panels (HH3) to
investigate whether they were part
of a complex of features and
deposits or just carvings on natural
outcrops (Figure 5).
This excavation was following on
from previous investigations
including the Torbhlaren project at
Kilmartin, Mid-Argyll where a clay
platform was discovered adjacent to
rock art, and at Stanbury Hill,
Bingley, West Yorkshire where a
quartz surface was discovered.
Figure 5: De-turfing the trench excavated around panels 1, 2 and 3
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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

The team toiled through wind, rain and dense fog
(Figure 6) to strip, clean and investigate an area of
some 100m2 revealing the surface of a large area
of outcropping sandstone that the carved panels
were part of.
This work clearly demonstrated that no associated
intentionally placed deposits or cut features were
present within the investigated area. Three
irregular, shallow, bowl-shaped features (the
remains of rotted tree or shrub root masses)
identified during the excavation were radiocarbon
dated to the 11th to 12th centuries AD.
A single worked flint fragment was found next to
the main panel. This item seemed to be a ‘blade’shaped removal from a core produced during an
attempt to work around a natural imperfection
within the flint.

Figure 6: A foggy day on Hawkesley Hill

Although the excavation results were largely negative, in terms of understanding the nature and use of rock art sites, the
absence of associated remains was interesting. Were the carvings at Hawkesley therefore ritual motifs etched into an isolated
‘natural’ place of special meaning? The evidence from the wider area survey, however, suggested another interpretation.
The results cumulated during the survey and post-excavation analysis demonstrated high levels of disturbance within the
surrounding area from medieval and later agriculture and military activity. This suggested that if there had been any upstanding
prehistoric features in the vicinity these would have been destroyed.
Interestingly the promontory on which five of the six panels were located seemed to have suffered less damage from later
activity and the presence of undated terraces, quarries and a possible small cairn hinted that there may have been some form
of contemporary activity in the vicinity of the rock art. This pattern is mirrored within parts of upper Teesdale where later
agriculture has had less impact upon the largely preserved prehistoric landscapes, although it should be remembered that very
few of these remains have actually been confidently dated.
The rock art sites recorded to date within Upper Teesdale also show a strong correlation to the underlying geology, with the
majority being located on the sandstones of the Millstone Grit series. Even the exception, a concentration of carvings on
Barningham Moor, located within the area of the Carboniferous Limestone series, were mostly (if not all) etched into sandstone.
This pattern of rock art distributions being linked to the underlying geology has previously been stated (see and raises important questions regarding the meaning of the carvings. For instance, is this
pattern merely a product of the survivability and visibility of rock art on differing geologies or does it indicate a specific choice
by the prehistoric carvers? Could any carvings made on, for instance, softer limestones, have been weathered away or does the
correspondence with the Millstone Grits in the Tees Valley represent an accurate pattern? If the latter case could be
demonstrated, then a much more interesting question arises: why did the prehistoric inhabitants of this area choose to mark
only sandstone outcrops and boulders with carvings?
You can read more about the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership projects at
Northern Archaeological Associates can be found at

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Rock Art Abstracts: Headlines from recent journal papers. What are academic researchers currently
thinking about? (Full papers available online with subscription)

Volcanic eruptions in Chauvet

German rock art attributed to
the Palaeolithic

Purple and red pigments
characterised in Australia

Could these ‘sprays’ amongst the
images in the famous Chauvet cave
in southern France represent a
volcanic eruption? A charcoal
Megaloceros overlaying them dates
to 34 -36 kya – when volcanoes
spewed lava into the sky.

Engravings discovered on a slate
rock face in the Hunsrück Mountains
have parallels with Palaeolithic cave
art from other parts of Europe. The
images include three horses
attributed to the Aurignacian or
Gravettian, c. 20–25,000 years ago.

Ochre pigments from a rock shelter
in Arnhem Land have been
characterised using spectroscopic
and microscopic techniques.
A pure form of haematite found in
purple pigment may result from
exposure to high temperatures.

Nomade S. et al. 2016. A 36,000Year-Old Volcanic Eruption Depicted
in the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave
(Ardèche, France)? PLoS ONE
11(1): e0146621.

Welker, W. 2016. First Palaeolithic
rock art in Germany: engravings on
Hunsrück slate. Antiquity 90: 32–
47. doi:10.15184/aqy.2015.136.

Hunt, A. et al. 2016. The
characterisation of pigments used in
X-ray rock art at Dalakngalarr 1,
central-western Arnhem.
Microchemical Journal 129: 524–9

‘Petrosketch’: a new app for
rock art recorders

Upper Palaeolithic rock art in
context in Spanish cave

African ‘crayons’ used on Apollo

This virtual notebook enables users
to draw a petroglyph symbol on a
white page, or follow the contour of
a digital image. A classification and
list of similar symbols is then
generated by a flexible, image
matching algorithm.

A discovery at Cova del Comte in
Spain has a defined chronological
context placing it within the
Gravettian and early Solutrean
period. Stylistic features of some of
the figures correspond to ancient
pre-Magdalenian art.

Analysis of the pigments used to
‘draw’ on seven stone plaques from
Apollo 11 Cave in southern Namibia.
provides the earliest direct evidence
for combined mineral- and carbonbased pigment ‘crayons’ during the
African Middle Stone Age.

Deufemia, V. et al. 2016. A mobile
application for supporting
archaeologists in the classification
and recognition of petroglyphs, in
T. Torre et al. (ed.) Empowering

Casabóa, J. et al. In press. New
evidence of Palaeolithic rock art at
the Cova del Comte (Pedreguer,
Spain): Results of the first surveys.
Quaternary International: 1-16.

Rifkina, R.F. et al. 2016.
Characterising pigments on 30,000year-old portable art from Apollo 11
Cave, Karas Region, southern
Namibia. Jnl. of Arch. Sci.
Reports 5: 336–47.

organizations. Enabling
platforms & artefacts. Springer

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

A GEOLOGICAL ORIGIN FOR ROCK ART? Part three (conclusion)
By Mike Howgate (Chairman, Amateur Geological Society)

Ilkley Moor, a part of the more
extensive Rombalds Moor, has a
group of easily accessible boulders
and rock surfaces covered in rock art.
Several of these have been damaged
by Victorian quarrying and recent
‘New Age’ graffiti but others such as
the ‘Panorama Stone’ have been
preserved for posterity although
removed from their natural setting.
One of the most easily accessible
naturally positioned boulders is the
‘Pancake Rock’. This block of
Gritstone was left in its precarious
position on the edge of the Millstone
Grit escarpment (just above the Cow
& Calf Hotel) by the retreating ice of
the last Glacial Period (Figure 1).
Fig 1. The Pancake Rock above Ilkley, summit area towards the right.

Although quite weathered, most of the 54 cups, 6 rings and 6 partial rings can be made out, as can a network of enhanced
runnels and purely artificial channels connecting up several of the cups. There is a prominent series of natural hollows at the
south-eastern summit (Figure 2).
These were probably formed where a series of soft nodules had been deposited at a top-set surface of a set of Millstone Grit
cross-bedded strata. The north-westerly sloping surface in the middle of the boulder and covered in runnels being the fore-set
surface deposited at the advancing delta front and the slightly south–easterly sloping surface with distinctive cups the bottomset beds deposited in front of the advancing delta. The strata have been canted slightly westwards from the orientation in
which they would have originally been deposited.
The two natural hollows on the summit, seen in Figure 2, are connected
by a shallow artificial channel which continues from the second, smaller,
hollow in a further artificial channel which flows down the slope to the
edge of the boulder. The current nick in the larger hollow is probably of
later date and may have been initiated when a part of the boulder fell
away or was removed.
The series of four cups, one of which is only partial and at the edge of the
boulder (Figure 2), indicate that this part of the boulder had been subject
to attrition since the cups were carved.
Fig. 2. Summit of the Pancake Rock showing water filled natural hollows with
three cups above them.

On my last visit I took a water
supply with me (Figure 3) and
checked the flow pattern of
one of the most complex
sections of channels and cups.
Below is a summary of what

Fig. 3. Technical equipment.

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

Figure 4 shows a quite clear artificial channel which
runs from the summit area very close to the edge of
the boulder before turning at right angles to follow
the fracture where a bedding plane surface of the
fore-set beds has been eroded away. This part of
the channel has a series of small cups cut into it
(Figure 5) and has been deliberately cut as near to
the edge as possible. Further down the channel
meanders to the right before taking a dog-leg to the
left. Here it flows through a series of distinct cups
(Figure 6) before flowing over the edge of the
fractured bedding plane. After flowing over the edge
it continues in another cut channel which takes the
flow over the edge of the boulder.
Two other prominent artificial channels drain this
lower area through a series of unconnected cup-like
depressions before coalescing just before the edge
of the boulder. Most surprisingly, the flow patterns
indicate that the precariously balanced Pancake Rock
has not moved significantly since these
Neolithic/Bronze Age patterns were added.

Fig. 4. Low angled general view of the Pancake Rock.

Figure 5 (top left): Channel with cups cut into it.
Figure 6 (bottom left): Channel connecting large cups leading to the bedding plane
edge. The continuation on the lower bedding plane can just be made out.

The complexity of the ‘drainage pattern’ indicates that it was used to channel water—or some other liquid—downslope, often,
through an intricate pattern of enhanced runnels, artificially cut channels, and cups. The question is why? One possible
explanation is that it was a form of sympathetic magic enacted to ensure an adequate water supply for the crops late Neolithic
and early Bronze Age people had come to rely upon.
Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherers could follow game through an extensive landscape with a large network of
streams, pools and springs. Later Neolithic pastoralists would take their flocks and herds through a similar if less extensive
landscape again with a variety of water supply points. Neolithic arable farmers would, however, be confined to the one site
where they had sown their crops. Water supply, only an intermittent problem in the past, would take on much more
significance once communities became more permanently settled. Any prolonged drought would mean crop failure and
Various cultures have had rain making ceremonies. Many North American Indian tribes, especially the maize cultivating tribes
such as the Pueblo and Navajos had and still have, complex rain dances in which feathers represent the wind and beads of
turquoise the rain, the aim of the dance being to call upon these natural forces. In China, a Wu shaman would dance around a
fire until his sweat would mimic rainfall, then hopefully it would soon rain. In the Neolithic of the West Riding perhaps the
connection between stream flow and rainfall was noticed, prompting the idea that in order to propitiate the Rain God it was
necessary to mimic the flow of water in the local streams—which may have dried up—on a prominent rock surface using what
was left of the precious liquid. Use of a rock where the flow of water from natural depressions had already been noticed might
be considered particularly auspicious.

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

The sequence of ‘historical’ progression might, then, be as follows:


The observation of natural hollows on the top of rocks which periodically fill with water, some of which retain the
water for weeks afterwards, and during rain overflow down the side in a stream like runnel.


The overflow runnel is artificially enhanced so that a ‘libation’ into the dried out summit hollows will produce a more
significant and distinctive flow.


Purely artificial channels are cut downslope from the hollows which bear little relationship to the underlying geology,
often cutting across the grain of the strata. If these channels cut across the bedding planes a cascade effect could
be produced which would be more realistic or aesthetically pleasing.


Cup like depressions are cut into the channel making the feature more like an upland stream with a series of
interconnected pools, where water would normally be accessed.


Rings around the cups, all still interconnected, could indicate (and here I really speculate) the irrigation channels
leading to the patches or fields of crops.


Isolated cups, not connected by channels, may have been added with an ancillary function as receptacles for other
offerings such as grain but still associated with a ‘rain’ offering.


More complex rock art may still have a link to sympathetic magic rain making. The Swastika Stone and the Idol Rock
both have a patterns of cups surrounded by an entrenched groove. In this scenario the groove filled with water may
represent the stream or irrigation channel and the cups, filled with a grain offering, the fields.


The most complex rock art might have moved beyond this naturalistic rain making magic. Whole surfaces covered
with multiple ringed cups and with no connection to a flow pattern might indicate a stage where the act of carving
cup and ring patterns, following the basic motifs used by previous generations, was all what was necessary for
whatever ritualistic purpose they now served.

INSPIRED BY ROCK ART: Ketley light tracing by Ian Hobson
Single LED, tracing the lines of an acrylic and ink representation of the Ketley Crag prehistoric cup and ring marks.

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Issue No 15: Spring 2016

BRAG 2016

3rd & 4th June · Liverpool
British Rock Art Group Annual Conference
The University of Liverpool will be hosting a two day conference bringing together researchers working within the field of rock
art. The first day will be dedicated to a field trip involving a viewing of recently discovered rock art from the Wirral Peninsula
at the Museum of Liverpool’s offsite store, a guided tour of the prehistory section of the Museum of Liverpool (by Ron Cowell,
and including the latest interpretation of the Calderstones) and a visit to the Calderstones and Robin Hood’s Stone). Papers
will be delivered the following day.
Papers may cover a wide range of interests reflecting the multifaceted nature of research into rock art and covering all
periods from the Palaeolithic to the Historic Period.
Proposals for oral presentations and posters will be accepted until 15th April 2016. Lectures will be up to twenty minutes in
length. Please submit abstracts of around 300 words, and any other enquiries, to Jonathan Trigg ( or at:
Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology,
School of Histories, Languages and Cultures,
University of Liverpool,
12-14 Abercromby Square,
L69 3GS
The programme will be published online by the
15th May 2016, and the registration fee will be £15.
Organizing Committee:
Ron Cowell, Museum of Liverpool
Anthony Sinclair, University of Liverpool
Liz Stewart, Museum of Liverpool
Jonathan Trigg, University of Liverpool

Above: Robin Hood’s Stone. Image: (CC-BY-SA-3.0); below: the Calderstones. Image: The Reader Organisation

DATES for your DIARY: forthcoming conferences and other events
If you have an event you would like to publicise here please send me the details.

3rd – 4th June 2016 British Rock Art Group Annual Conference, Liverpool University.
See above for details and contact information.
3rd – 4th June 2016 Europa 2016: Dynamics of Art, design and Vision in Iron Age Europe.
Prof Peter Wells, University of Minnesota
See website for details:
23rd – 30th July 2016 Tanum Field Seminar, Sweden. Documenting the Past for the Future
Seminar – Lectures – Fieldwork – Excursions
Preliminary programme available at

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