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Issue No. 1: May (Spring/Summer) 2009
Dear All, I promised to keep you in the loop with rock art developments and opportunities, so welcome to the first (experimental) edition of ‘Rock Articles’. I’d appreciate any feedback about either the format or the content, and if anyone would like to contribute to future issues please let me have your ideas. I’d be happy to include any new discoveries, or to highlight issues relating to the conservation of panels, or perhaps you’d like to review a book or article. Hope you enjoy No. 1!
May 2009 firstname.lastname@example.org Contents:
• • • • • •
News in Brief: Updates on the ERA website, new discoveries, and the 2009 BRAG Conference Capturing Carvings: The latest developments in rock art recording Rock Art around the World: Problems at Lascaux, and new finds near Barcelona Get Involved: Opportunities to take part in rock art projects in Sweden and on Anglesey Featured Panel: The Eden Hall or ‘Honey Pot Farm’ Stone Rock Art Reads: New and forthcoming publications
NEWS IN BRIEF
ERA update (http://archaeologydataservice.co.uk/era) Efforts to complete the England’s Rock Art website continue: the next update will feature a much improved map search, and photogrammetry gallery; still to come are the Condition & Management data, and the forms for submission of new records (see Recording Corner, below). Watch this space!
New British discoveries Photographer and rock art enthusiast Brian Kerr, whose fab images you can find on the ERA website, recently reported a new discovery at Cairnholy in Scotland. You can read his story at http://rockartuk.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/cairnholy-new-find/
George Currie (aka Tiompan) continues to uncover new panels in Scotland. The thumbnail shows a new panel at Nether Glenny, Stirling (Nether Glenny 55 new-1). The rare sun-like motif is more common in the Irish passage grave art, e.g. at Loughcrew. For more info and images see http://rockartuk.fotopic.net/
British Rock Art Group 2009 Meeting BRAG 2009 will be held on 9-10 May at the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS), Newcastle University. The cost for the day is £5 to cover tea and coffee. More information and a provisional programme can be found at: http://docs.google.com/View?docID=ahb468fmksd4_2745h2vdxnw&revision=_latest If you would like to attend and are interested in visiting rock art panels on the Sunday (you will need your own transport for this) please contact: Aron Mazel International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University Tel: 0191 – 2227845; Email: email@example.com
Issue No 1: Spring/Summer 2009
Rock art recording is developing rapidly with work undertaken during the Northumberland & Durham Rock Art Pilot (NADRAP) Project being built upon on several fronts.
Recording standards Feedback from the NADRAP volunteers has been used to update and improve the forms used during the project. Two new versions have been created: a 2-page minimum form, and a 9-page full record. The minimum form will act as a ‘registration’ for the panel, and includes essential details such as name, location, and access information. This will also be the minimum information required for inclusion in the ERA database. The extended form includes all the elements covered by the NADRAP volunteers, with spaces for drawings of the panel, sketch maps, and details of condition and risk. Both forms, with full guidelines, are available on the ERA website; online forms and instructions for submitting new records for the ERA database are expected to become available shortly.
Electronic recording in the field Paper recording forms may become a thing of the past if new survey-grade handheld GPS devices continue to drop in price. Abby Hunt from the English Heritage Survey Team recently demonstrated the power of this technology to members of the NADRAP project Team on Barningham and Ilkley Moors respectively. Abby had pre-programmed the device with the NADRAP recording form so it was possible to create an electronic record of each panel in the field using the touch screen – as well as recording an accurate location. This process could significantly reduce the time taken for recording, and avoid errors of translation when data is input from paper forms. The electronic record can be quickly downloaded to a PC, and used with GIS software to create maps or for further analysis. See Trimble website: http://www.gps-trainer.com/trimble_gps.htm
Photogrammetry, Photosynth, & Polynomial Texture Mapping In August 2008, Microsoft Live Labs released an application called ‘Photosynth’ which enables users to create online, 3D, navigable photo-stitched environments using digital imagery taken from their own cameras. Ex-NADRAP Volunteer Co-ordinator Richard Stroud has been investigating the latest version of the software. Photosynth incorporates the two technologies of an image browser and ‘synther’ to create the models, plus the software to handle and view large amounts of imagery. Processing is undertaken by the users’ own computer with imagery uploaded to Microsoft’s servers. The resultant models or ‘synths’ can only, currently, be viewed online via the Photosynth website. (Download the software and check out some of the amazing ‘synths’ at www.photosynth.net including Richard’s study of ‘The Grange.’) The software is able to compute and correlate the same points on different images of the same scene (50% overlap recommended), enabling images to be stitched positionally and a camera viewpoint for each image to be determined. A sparse density 3-D model using ‘point clouds’ is also produced from the information gathered - the individual points within the point clouds represent areas where matches occurred across the imagery. The biggest advantage is that imagery can be browsed easily and quickly at maximum resolution however the level of errors within the point clouds mean the application cannot currently replace the significantly more accurate outcomes achieved by photogrammetry and laser-scanning. Another new technique is being developed for conservation studies at York University. Polynomial Texture Mapping, or ‘PTM’ has been applied to the recording of a variety of artefacts, and was used by Californian company Cultural Heritage Imaging to capture detail of rock art in the Coa Valley in Portugal (see image). Paul Bryan from the English Heritage Metric Survey Team believes this approach could have potential for recording British carvings, and he plans to test the technique at Roughting Linn. See www.hpl.hp.com/research/ptm/ for an overview of the technology.
Issue No 1: Spring/Summer 2009
ROCK ART AROUND THE WORLD
Scientists meet to save Lascaux cave from fungus Geologists, biologists and other scientists convened in Paris earlier this year to discuss how to stop the spread of fungus stains — aggravated by global warming — that threaten France's prehistoric (carbon-dating suggests the murals were created between 15,000 and 17,500 years ago) Lascaux cave paintings. In 1963 the cave was closed to the public after the appearance of green algae and other damage scientists linked to the visitors; a replica was built nearby. Since then black stains have spread across the images, and scientists have been hardpressed to halt the fungal creep. Marc Gaulthier, who heads the Lascaux Caves International Scientific Committee, said the challenges facing the group are vast and global warming now poses an added problem. "All of Lascaux's problems have always been linked to the cave's climatization, meaning the equilibrium of air inside the cave," Gaulthier told reporters at a news conference before the symposium. Now, rising temperatures have complicated matters by stopping air from circulating inside the caverns. "It's stagnating, immobile, frozen" inside the cave, he said. This makes sending teams of scientists into the affected caverns risky, as their mere presence raises humidity levels and temperatures that could contribute to the growth of the different fungi, algae and bacteria that have attacked the cave over the years. Other factors behind the stains include the presence of naturally occurring microorganisms and the chemical makeup of the rock that forms the cavern walls. For the moment, the cave is completely sealed in hopes that "it will heal itself," said Gaulthier. Scientists from as far away as the United States, New Zealand and Japan attended the two-day symposium. The conclusions could also help preserve caves in Japan and Spain. Two possible solutions examined at the conference included the installation of a system to regulate the cave's temperature and the use of biocides, which kill the bacteria and have been used in the cave before, with mixed results. Read more about the problems facing conservators in the International Newsletter on Rock Art (INORA) Issue 51, which is now available online at http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/inora/index.html
New rock art recorded at Montpedrós, near Barcelona. A series of well preserved engravings have recently been identified by Francesc Anguas on an outcrop of schist rock, 50 m below the summit of the Montpedrós mountain, 325 m above sea level. The hard, metamorphic rock show little sign of erosion and the carvings are regular and deep. The eastern face is engraved with a small cup at the centre of a much larger ring with radial spokes, interpreted as a ‘sun’ motif. A possible abstract deer, depicted by its antlers is connected. The northern face has a more complex design comprising a double, connected spiral, chevrons, and cup marks. Read more about the site and its interpretation (including parallels with megalithic sites in Britain and Ireland) on the TRACCE website at http://www.rupestre.net/tracce/.
Eastern face of Montpedrós engravings
Northern face of Montpedrós engravings
Tracing of Montpedrós northern face
Rock arty-fact: Over 50 million examples of rock art have been identified, world-wide.
Issue No 1: Spring/Summer 2009
Anglesey Rock-Art Project Field School & Excavation, 18 - 22 June 2009
A chance to (officially!) dig up some rock art! If you would like to join archaeology students from Bristol University on this dig, please let Adam Stanford know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Places are limited so book early (priority may be given to Bristol students). Details from Adam are as follows: The excavation will be taking place at Llwydiarth Esgob Stone NGR: SH436844. Noted in an article by Francis Lynch in 1974 that the boulder was in the garden of Llwydiarth Esgob near Llannerch-ymedd. A double cup and ring mark with groove and further cupmarks on a boulder approximately 1m in length. A recent photographic survey (Nash & Stanford 2009) has indicated that there is in fact much more to the art than previously thought. As well as the possibility of below ground rock-art the survey may have revealed distinct similarities with art of the Boyne Valley, thus strongly adding further to the suggestion of an Irish influence for the rock-art found in Anglesey and north Wales. The project will be investigating the possibility of further art below the present ground level and wish to record the panel complete, the stone may also have been removed from a now destroyed, but unknown monument nearby, so this will also be investigated as well as conducting rock-art surveys and recording at other monuments on Anglesey including Barclodiad y Gawres where they have discovered art in recent photographic surveys.
Field tours of the many fascinating monuments on Anglesey will take place in small groups during the four days of the project. Techniques covered are, excavation and recording, special methods of photographic and other non/minimal contact recording of megalithic rock-art. There will be an administrative cost to cover insurance, equipment, campsite costs, field tours and tutors, the total cost for the four days is £115. There will be camping on site with water, toilet and shower facilities, apart from the project supper/BBQ evening, it will be self catering (although we may do pub runs and other evening activities, as you might expect on a project like this we do ensure lots of fun and that everyone has a great time). The excavation site where we will also be staying is a very pretty but remote farm that has a small number of Bed & Breakfast rooms, if you prefer this option let me know and I will see if there is a bed available in a twin room, but the cost does increase to an extra £32 per night. Transport to and from the project is at your own expense, but we may be able to arrange pick-ups at the Ferry terminal/train station in Holyhead.
The Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art Annual Working Seminar, 18 -25 July 2009
A great opportunity to learn more about rock art recording and conservation try out different recording methods at the fantastic UNESCO World Heritage site of Tanum, Sweden. The focus is on field work and participants will have the opportunity record complete panels of carvings which will be registered by the Swedish National Heritage Board. Morning lectures will also be held, starting with introductory information for a general audience and continuing with more advanced lectures given by wellregarded rock-carving archaeologists. The Working Seminar will be held at Tanums Hällristningsmuseum in the beautiful county of Tanum in Sweden. For further information about the program and registration please see: http://www.rockartscandinavia.se/uk/start.html
Issue No 1: Spring/Summer 2009
The Eden Hall or ‘Honeypot’ Stone, Cumbria (NY552299) This substantial boulder was found in 1909 when, whilst hunting for otters by the River Eamont at Honey Pots Farm near Penrith, Major Spencer C. Ferguson, spotted it protruding from the ground. He discovered that the stone, which measures 115 cm x 76 cm x 38 cm and weighs over 3200kg, was extensively decorated on one side with a series of cup-and-ring motifs enclosed within an oval groove. This composition fits well within the cup-and-ring tradition, with similar examples of enclosing grooves known from Cartington Castle (ERA 1841) and Corbridge (ERA 715), both in Northumberland, and from Fylingdales Moor in North Yorkshire. The find was reported in the local society transactions and the stone removed to the safety of Tullie House Museum, Carlisle, where it can be seen today. In his report in the transactions the Major included both a photograph and a sketch by F.S. Sanderson of the School of Art at Tullie House.
Photograph by B. Kerr.
The boulder is a striking example of gabbro, a hard black volcanic stone, which occurs in only a few locations in Britain, the closest to the find site being just over 20 km to the east at Carrock Fell. Gabbro from Carrock Fell was quarried during the Neolithic period to make stone axes, and the fell top is also the site of a possible Neolithic enclosure. The Tullie House curator visited the fell in 1972 but found no other decorated stones. Despite its relative protection within the museum, the stone has sadly not been well-treated. A plaster cast (now held by the museum) was made by A. Bateman in 1972, and curator Robert Hogg noted in the same year the stone had become ‘greasy through continuous polishing’ (presumably by over-enthusiastic cleaning staff!). It is now on permanent display alongside other carved stones from the Eden Valley. Further reading:
Beckensall, S., 2002. Prehistoric rock art in Cumbria. Stroud: Tempus. Ferguson, S. C., 1910. A cup-and-ring marked stone from Honey Pots Farm, near Edenhall. Transactions of the Cumberland and
Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. Second series 10, 507-508.
ROCK ART READS: NEW AND FORTHCOMING PUBLICATIONS
Image and Audience: Rethinking Prehistoric Art by Richard Bradley, Oxford University Press
From the OUP website: “There have been many accounts of prehistoric ‘art’, but nearly all of them begin by
assuming that the concept is a useful one. In this extensively illustrated study, Richard Bradley asks why ancient objects were created and when and how they were used. He considers how the first definitions of prehistoric artworks were made, and the ways in which they might be related to practices in the visual arts today. Extended case studies of two immensely popular and much-visited sites illustrate his argument: one considers the megalithic tombs of Western Europe, whilst the other investigates the decorated metalwork and rock carvings of Bronze Age Scandinavia.” ISBN: 978-0-19-953385-5, 280 pages, 84 black & white illus., 234x156 mm Publication date: 12 March 2009, Price: £50.00 (Hardback) http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199533855
Materialitas. Working Stone, Carving Identity, edited by Blaze O’Connor, Gabriel Cooney and John Chapman, Prehistoric Society
Research Paper 3, Oxbow Books and The Prehistoric Society From the Oxbow website: “This volume explores the power and effect of stone through the meanings that emerged out of peoples engagement and encounters with its physical properties. Focused primarily on the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Atlantic Europe it brings together authors working on the materiality (materialitas) of stone via stone objects, rock art, monuments and quarrying activity. This highlights the connections that cross-cut what are traditionally seen as disparate research areas within the archaeological discipline.”
ISBN-13: 978-1-84217-377-0 ; ISBN-10: 1-84217-377-4, 208p, 93 b/w illustrations; 8 pages of colour illustrations Not yet published - advance orders taken, Price GB £35.00 (Hardback) http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/86804/
Carving a Future for British Rock Art: New Directions for Research, Management and Presentation edited by Tertia Barnett and
Kate Sharpe, Oxbow Books From the Oxbow website: “Over the last few years, the ways in which we perceive and document rock art have shifted irreversibly. This volume makes a powerful case for an archaeology that integrates rock art into a wider vision of the past. It brings together the experiences and informed opinions of the key organizations and stakeholders responsible for the conservation, management and accessibility of British rock art. An on-going and exciting period of change is documented here and the main issues that underpin the survival of our prehistoric carved heritage are addressed.”
ISBN-13: 978-1-84217-364-0 ISBN-10: 1-84217-364-2, 240p, 111 b/w & colour illus, 15 tables Not yet published - advance orders taken, Price GB £65.00 (Hardback) http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/86309