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Issue No.

21: Autumn 2019

Issue No. 21: October 2019

Dear All,

It seems a long time since the last Rock Articles but hopefully worth the wait, and this issue happily coincides with European
Rock Art Day (#EuropeanRockArtDay) on 9th October. British and Irish rock art research continues to move forwards, and this
year’s BRAG conference included plenty of ‘local’ papers as well as a providing perspective from India and South Africa. Efforts
to maintain access to the valuable but now-unsupported ERA database continue. In previous issues we reported on new links
with the Megalithic Portal; now, excellent work by Richard Stroud has ensured that the 3D models will live on in Sketchfab. We
also bring news of projects in Scotland and Ireland, and an unusual take on a modern form of rock art at CGHQ!
Hope to see some Rock Articles readers in Carlisle at the Northern Prehistory: Connected Communities conference – see back
page for details.

October 2019

• British & Irish rock art news: ................................................................................................................. 2
Scotland’s Rock Art Project: work in progress Tertia Barnett ............................................................... 2
An update from south west Ireland Aoibheann Lambe .......................................................................... 4
England’s Rock Art Archive – Sketchfab launch Richard Stroud ........................................................... 5
• World rock art on the web: international news and links ........................................................................... 6
• Carved cups and burnished bowls: recollections of a personal journey Lorraine Clay ............................. 7
• Listening stones Timothy Darvill ............................................................................................................ 9
• Faifley Rocks! Excavations around five rock art panels in West Dunbartonshire Kenny Brophy ................. 11
• The Annual British Rock Art Group Conference reviewed by Max Howe ............................................. 13
• Rock art reads: new publications ............................................................................................................ 15
• Rock art abstracts: headlines from the journals ...................................................................................... 16
• Dates for your diary ............................................................................................................................... 17

BRITISH & IRISH ROCK ART HEADLINES: projects, publications, and people

Scotland’s Rock Art Project passes half-way point with 150 participants trained and 800 panels recorded. (See page 2)

Discoveries continue across County Kerry. (See page 4)

New Sketchfab site launched providing access to 3D models from England’s Rock Art Archive: (See page 5)

New publication on portable art: Meirion Jones, A. & Díaz-Guardamino, M. 2019. Making a mark: image and process in
Neolithic Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Rock art at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle gets new protection and interpretation as part of a revamp of the
Prehistory Gallery. Go along to the conference on 12 and 13th October to have a look!
Excavations at Copt Howe, Cumbria published: Bradley, R., Watson, A., and Style, P. 2019. After the axes. The rock art at
Copt Howe, north-west England, and the Neolithic sequence at Great Langdale. Proc. of the Prehistoric Soc: 1-16.
New sketchfab site by Hugo Anderson Whymark showing carved stone balls:

Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Scotland’s Rock Art Project: work in progress

Tertia Barnett, Principal Investigator, Scotland’s Rock Art Project, Historic Environment Scotland

The Scotland’s Rock Art Project (ScRAP) is now just past its halfway point, so this is a
good opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved so far, and what we are planning
“we have recorded
for the remainder of the project. When the project began in January 2017, there were
over 2,700 records of prehistoric rock art in Scotland’s National Monuments Record
around 800 panels and
(Canmore, curated by Historic Environment Scotland), and the regional Historic made some exciting
Environment Records. Our aim is to work with communities across the country to revisit
and record a significant proportion of these panels from a cross-section of areas, and then new discoveries”
use the detailed data for research and raising awareness of Scotland’s rock art locally,
nationally and more widely.

In the first 18 months of the project, we trained over 150 people and now have 11 wonderful community teams operating in
different parts of the country, from Highland region in the north to Dumfries and Galloway in the south, with the ScRAP project
team filling in geographical gaps in places such as Aberdeenshire and the Outer Hebrides (Figure 1).

Figure 1: community teams at work across Scotland

We use a recording methodology based on the approach developed by similar projects in

“we trained over England (the Northumberland and Durham Rock Art Project, and Carved Stone Investigations:
150 people and now Rombalds Moor), so that the Scottish data will be compatible with the 2,000 or so rock art
records in the England’s Rock Art database. We are also using Structure from Motion
have 11 wonderful photogrammetry to create 3D models of every panel we locate in order to enable better
visualisation and analysis of the motifs and the rock surfaces. The fieldwork data and 3D models
community teams” are uploaded to our website ( where they become publicly accessible. Our
website, which was launched in April 2018, also provides a useful hub for information about and
images of Scotland’s rock art.

This year, our main focus has been data collection. Over the last 10 months we have recorded around 800 panels and made
some exciting new discoveries. These include a small, beautifully proportioned cup and ring marked stone (nicknamed Rocksie)
retrieved from a collapsed field wall in Stirlingshire and now destined for the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh (Figure
2), and a massive sandstone outcrop on the Isle of Bute featuring about 100 cup marks and a series of smoothed oval hollows
that may have been used for stone polishing activities – the only know example if its kind in Scotland (Figure 3)

Figure 2: ‘Rocksie’ Figure 3: Cup-marked sandstone outcrop on the Isle of Bute

Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Our findings so far have thrown up some interesting statistics that highlight a few of the challenges
that have faced research and understanding based on the existing database. For example, around
“17% of the
17% of the known panels are not actually prehistoric rock art. The majority of these are natural
depressions that have been mistaken for cup marks, whilst the others are generally later features
known panels
such as bait holes (for grinding shellfish to use for fishing bait). A large number of the existing records are not actually
(over 25%) had inaccurate grid references, sometimes deviating by more than 100m, illustrating the
problems with re-locating rock art, particularly when it is hidden by thick vegetation, and with doing prehistoric
spatial analysis. Over 20% of the existing records contain multiple rock art panels, which has
implications for our understanding of the spatial distribution and relative density of prehistoric rock art”
carvings across Scotland.

As fieldwork continues and we are able to address some of these anomalies, the map of Scotland’s
“the map of rock art is starting to change. There is a growing concentration of panels in north-eastern Scotland,
Scotland’s rock particularly around the Moray Firth in Inverness-shire, for instance. Conversely, there are now far
fewer carved rocks down the whole north-west side of Scotland, and in the Inner and Outer Hebrides
art is starting (with the exception of the island of Tiree, where our partners from the North of Scotland Archaeology
Society have recorded an unexpected cluster of cup-marked rocks).
to change”
As we move into the second half of the project, we will continue with our fieldwork recording programme, but we will now start
to focus on data analysis and synthesis, on sharing the results through publications, conferences and public events, and on
working closely with our community teams and project partners to raise the profile of Scotland’s rock art. You can find more
information about the project and about Scotland’s rock art on our website, and you can keep in touch with
what we are doing via our Facebook page

If you would like to submit an article to Rock Articles please contact me at

Feature articles. Contributions are invited for articles on all aspects of Rock Art in Britain and Ireland, including recording
techniques, interpretation, management, presentation, education, and conservation. We are keen to hear about any community
projects, heritage initiatives, new techniques, new research, and to provide a forum for anyone with an interest in rock art.
Perhaps you have been to a conference and could write a report, or have participated in a workshop or training event? Articles
should be 750-1000 words, and should include at least two images (for which you should have permission).

New Discoveries. If you have identified any new rock art and would like to feature your find in the New Discoveries section of
Rock Articles, get in touch, with a photograph of your find. Please note that grid references will not be included in Rock Articles.
Finds should be reported to and verified by the relevant local authority HER officer.

British Rock Art News. Do you have some news about your project, or an update on a particular panel that you can fit into
less than 200 words? Why not share it RA readers?

Inspired by Rock Art? Rock art often inspires creative responses. Have cup and ring marks fired your imagination? If so we’d
love to see your work!

Events and opportunities. Are you running an event that might be of interest to RA readers? Let us know about any talks,
conferences, or guided walks. Maybe you are looking for participants for a community project? Advertise here and use the RA
network to spread the word.

Submission deadline for Rock Articles No.22: 1st Sept 2020

Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

An update from south west Ireland

Aoibheann Lambe, University College Cork.

Ireland continues to yield previously unrecorded

and often elaborate rock panels. A few of the
panels from Donegal to Kerry, which I recently
reported to the Archaeological Survey of Ireland,
are illustrated here. These were all identified
during targeted surveying and each was the first
panel in its district or townland to be discovered.
One survey area was chosen based on folklore
concerning the tragic story of a girl who, having
slipped on a steep slope while looking for her
father’s billy goat, drowned in the lake below. No
archaeological features were listed for the area
from which she is said to have come. Rock art
and a settlement landscape were discovered
there during the field survey this January.

There are certainly many hundreds more panels

to be discovered in Ireland, especially in the
relict landscapes of Kerry and Donegal.
Unidentified rock art panels, as well as their
(often boulder-strewn) landscape settings, are at
great risk due to endemic land clearances. The
works entail the displacement and frequent
destruction of all rocks as well as devastation to
the soil biodiversity.

Right now, my surveying time is cut to a

minimum as I work on my thesis, focussing on a
single-panel case study, which continues to
fascinate and surprise even after two years of
study. Hidden motifs, superimpositions and
plasticity are only some of the vast range of
attributes displayed on this outcrop and are
included in a broader discussion of the panel
within its various contexts. These and other
characteristics are becoming increasingly easier
to spot on other panels as I ‘get my eye in’.

This September, while in the Comeragh

mountains, a part of the country supposedly
devoid of rock art, I visited a lake overlooked by
conglomerate boulders having numerous large
quartz inclusions and few level surfaces. Many of
the boulders displayed features which may be
anthropogenic. I intend to return to examine
these in detail and record them in 3D using
photogrammetry. This will be carried out as an
extension of a project in Kerry by Heritage
Iveragh/Oidhreacht Uíbh Ráthaigh (of which I
am chair) to record rock art in 3D. Keep reading
Rock Articles for further updates!
[Ed: You can also follow Aoibheann on Facebook

Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

England’s Rock Art Archive – Sketchfab launch

Richard Stroud

The England’s Rock Art (ERA) database, launched in
2008, now contains over 2000 individual records
compiled by two volunteer-led projects. Firstly, the
Access to England’s Rock Art Archive
English Heritage (as it then was) funded can now be found at:
Northumberland and Durham Rock Art Pilot Project
(NADRAP) ran between 2004 and 2008 and added
over 1500 records. From 2010 to 2013, the HLF-
funded, Pennine Prospects managed project, CSI:
Rombalds Moor (CSI:RM), added a further 500
panels from the moors above Ilkley and Baildon in
West Yorkshire. Both projects built on previous
records, such as the Beckensall Archive in
Northumberland, Keith Boughey’s ongoing Ilkley
Archaeology Group archive, county HERs, Historic
England listings, and private archives.

As well as meticulously recording the condition and

threat of each panel located, NADRAP was the first
large-scale heritage project in the United Kingdom to
train volunteers in the use of photogrammetry using
consumer grade cameras. By the time the CSI:RM
project had uploaded data to ERA in 2013, a total of
1615 panels had been photographed across both
projects, and photogrammetric stereo imagery had
been captured for 1456 of these. One aspect of both
projects that outstripped expectations was the
extent of photogrammetric processing undertaken by
the trained volunteers, particularly during NADRAP
when this was a pioneering methodology. It was
originally anticipated that around 40-50 models
would be produced during the project, but in excess
of 450 were in fact created. A small trial of Structure
from Motion (SfM) technologies during the CSI:RM
project resulted in another 100+ models being
uploaded by 2013.

In recent years, 3D modelling has become more

accessible and widely used within the heritage
sector, mainly due to advances in SfM technologies.
Models that used to take hours or even days to
process for the NADRAP volunteers can now be
processed in minutes, and with minimal user input.
Another recent innovation has been the introduction
of tools allowing the upload and display of explorable
3D models in internet browsers, through websites
such as Sketchfab. This has presented new
possibilities for the still freely-available ERA data and
offers the opportunity to expand and update an
already fantastic resource.

A Sketchfab account, ‘England’s Rock Art Archive’

has recently been set up to make 3D models of rock
art in England even more accessible. It is anticipated
that most models uploaded will be sourced from ERA
material. This will include original models processed
between 2005 and 2013 and also re-processed
stereo pairs. Much of the stereo imagery captured
during both NADRAP and CSI:RM remains
unprocessed and this is a huge untapped resource
from which to create models. In addition to ERA
material, models from other Sketchfab users will be
linked through county collections. The author, who
was part of the project team on both ERA projects,
will also upload models from his own 3D collection,
dating back to 2005 and covering non-ERA areas.
Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019


Rock art is a truly worldwide phenomenon. Here you can explore rock art from
around the world at the click of a mouse! Read about the latest discoveries,
projects and news about a variety of styles and ages. In this issue: Turkey, India,
Siberia, Texas, Borneo, Finland and The Balkans
(All links available without subscription)

Recording a volcanic eruption in Bronze Age Turkey

Footprints and paw prints preserved in ash near Çakallar volcano in Turkey, were
first documented in the 1960s, but assigning a date proved challenging. Two new
methods: radiogenic helium dating and cosmogenic chlorine exposure dating, have
now revealed that the prints were made 4,700 years, in the Bronze Age. Additional
analysis shows that the group who made the prints were in fact walking towards
the volcano at a normal pace rather than fleeing the eruption.
The new date sheds light on nearby rock art, documented in 2008, which may
depict erupting rocks and lava flows around a crater-like circular shape.


See full article at

Hikers work to identify and catalogue new carvings in India

Keen hikers Sudhir Risbood and Manoj Marathe are cataloguing hundreds of rock
carvings in India's Maharashtra state. Dating to ca. 10,000 BC, they include a
crocodile, elephant, birds, fish and humans. Some were hidden by soil and mud;
others were well-known by locals and considered holy. Before the survey, only
three sites were documented; now 17 are recorded, with over 200 petroglyphs.
Risbood told a BBC reporter, "People started sending photographs to us and we
even enlisted schools in our efforts to find them. We made students ask their
grandparents and other village elders if they knew about any other engravings."


Fifty shades of red: Bronze Age paint production in the Altai Mountains
Researchers have shown that rock art depicting figures with horns and feather
headdresses, painted 5,000 years ago in Siberia, demonstrate a sophisticated
scientific understanding. The red, black and white images were found in 1985 in a
remote village in the Altai Mountains where they decorated graves at a necropolis.
Nearly 35 years on, Russian scientists have shown that the red hues were made of
thermally modified ochre; the artists knew how to carry out a controlled chemical
reaction in order to create the precise tones they desired by varying the


Elemental analysis in Texas

An innovative, non-destructive technique has revealed new layers of rock art near
the Rio Grande. Scientists south Texas have presented the results of a recent study
conducted using portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. Study leader Karen
Steelman: “It gives you the elemental analysis of a specific material and is the first
step in figuring out how ancient artists used different materials to make their
paintings”. Test at 138 sites across Texas’s Rattlesnake Canyon revealed previously
unseen (and older) black manganese pigments beneath layers of red iron oxide
paint, made by hunter-gatherer societies in the area from 2500 BCE-500 CE.


Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Dancing figures and ancient cattle in Borneo

The oldest figurative cave art may belong not to France or Spain, but to Borneo.
Hand prints and dancing figures have been identified in inaccessible caves on the
island. They have been uranium-dated to 20,000-50,000 years ago.
“The oldest cave art image we dated is a large painting of an unidentified animal,
probably a species of wild cattle still found in the jungles of Borneo. This has a
minimum age of around 40,000 years and is now the earliest known figurative
artwork,” said Maxime Aubert of Australia’s Griffith University. The images show
that people across the world were doing similar artwork in caves at the same time.



Stripes and hand markings in eastern Finland

New paintings have been found near a sprawling lake system in eastern Finland.
The red-painted stripes and hand markings, which extend over 9.5 m, were
partially hidden under lichen. They were found on the shore of Lake Luonteri, part
of the Saimaa lake system, where paintings were discovered in the 1990s. The new
images are about 5 m lower on the rock face. Timo Sepänmaa of the Museum of
Central Finland said their position shows that "they are a couple of thousand years
younger than the earlier finds". Some of the art work is still hidden under lichen,
which can only be removed with the permission of the Finnish Heritage Agency.


Cave art in Croatia

Paintings dating to the Upper Palaeolithic period have been found in a cave on the
Northern coast of Croatia's northern – the first cave art documented in the Balkans.
The reddish images, which depict a bison and ibex, are believed to have been
created more than 30,000 years ago. Study leader by Aitor Ruiz-Redondo, from the
University of Southampton, surveyed more than 60 prehistoric caves and rock
shelters across Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia;
Romualdova Cave was one of just two sites that had clear evidence of Palaeolithic
rock art. The researchers are still trying to resolve the exact age of the artworks.


See full article at

Carved cups and burnished bowls: recollections of a personal journey

Lorraine Clay, Department of Archaeology, Durham University

In 1978, two bored teenagers were dragged by their

mother on a walking weekend to Whitton Dene in
Northumberland. No pubs, clubs, shops, TV; an unlikely
and unpromising start for a revelation. Forced uphill
through fields of cows, I became distracted by the lonely
gnarled hawthorn bushes, giving them fanciful names.
We all stopped for a breath by a waymarker, beside a
stone with worn carvings of dots and circles and wavy
lines, and less worn carvings saying: “ROCK MAP”.
Standing on the stone I was transported to earlier times,
with small camps and enclosures.

In the nearby town there were no books or leaflets and

this being before the internet I couldn’t Google it, but
surely someone had clearly noticed the decorated stone
enough before to carve a label on it.

Mum probably regretted trailing us there as for years

after we dragged her around too and found more carved
stones on Garleigh moor and others at Lordenshaws
Lordenshaws ‘Main Rock’
with small dots and deep channels.
Image from England's Rock Art website.
Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Finally, in around 1992, in the book shop in Rothbury

there appeared Prehistoric Rock Motifs of
Northumberland Volume 2 (meaning that somewhere
there was a Volume 1!) by Stan Beckensall (who became
nicknamed ‘Stan the Man’ by my brother and I to
distinguish him from my dad, also Stan). This book
opened the door to other sites such as Morwick.

At about the same time, I took an Archaeology A Level

for fun. Discovering that the subsequent degree could
only be taken full-time, I joined the Northumberland
Archaeology Group and began pottery evening classes.
You’d think that I’d have started inscribing pots with
cups and rings immediately, but I was more focused at
this time on Greek and Celtic designs, although I did
make a coil bowl of spirals and geckos (which fell to
pieces because I didn’t smooth either side!).
Figure 1: "Me” thrown bowl with wax resist during weathering

For my 40th, I gathered friends at Lordenshaws. Its

timelessness made my short years nothing. By then, I
had become a professional potter, later studying a part-
time ceramics degree at Newcastle College whilst
working as a pottery tutor for the Mental Health Trust.
Study at Newcastle allowed me to explore and
experiment with clay. For one project, I decorated a
chair with rock art, but the symbols in themselves—
divorced from wind and rain and birdsong—were poor
simulacra: imitation bordering on cliché.

Finishing ceramic studies, I turned to archaeology again,

first joining Altogether Archaeology, then Tynedale
“North of The Wall” Archaeology group, with whom I
have excavated at Long Meg, the Tortie Stone and Carr
Hill, surveyed at Davies Lee and helped with a rock art
condition survey at Hartleyburn. More books from Stan
the Man revealed Scotland to us. We read about
Figure 3: Excavation Long Meg
Ballochmyle so off we went, and before my 50th I drove
to Kilmartin Valley at last.

At college I began weathering clay. Ideally pieces would

be left unfired and would decay and disintegrate but it’s
impossible to sell an unfired pot, so initially I wood fired
them after allowing them to distort and crack. I installed
pieces at Fi Fi Fo Fum, Artworks, and The Hearth.

A commission from a South African-born client led me to

compare African and UK rock art and I inscribed motifs
inside thrown bowls and added them in wax resist
outside before weathering. Somehow the weathering
made the symbols less static—more true to their
appearance in the landscape.

Figure 4. Weathered bowl, wood fired

For the Northern Potters Newcastle Arts Centre exhibition, I again

weathered bowls with rock art from Northumberland, alongside
Roman symbolism, in commemoration of my parents and their
influence on my life. After weathering, the bowls were given an
earthenware glaze firing, keeping the clay open, and finished with
smoke firing and burnishing.

It has taken a long time for my two loves of rock art and ceramics to
come together, but I believe that now they have, they will continue to
Figure 5: "Mum" thrown and weathered bowl

Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Listening Stones
Timothy Darvill, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Bournemouth University

Rock art is a living tradition in many parts of the world, and it sometimes turns up in unexpected places. Just such an
occurrence is in the shadow of GCHQ, the UK government’s top-secret communications centre that eavesdrops on conversations
across the world from its headquarters on the outskirts of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. As part of a large-scale refurbishment
of the site, locally known as ‘The Doughnut’ because of its ring-wall of offices around a large central courtyard, the Carlisle-born
artist Gordon Young (Young 2019a) was commissioned to create a piece of installation art in the public park outside the
northeastern entrance (Postcode: GL51 0XL; NGR: SO 917225). The work was crafted in collaboration with Why Not Associates
(typography) and Russell Coleman (implementation), and funded by GCHQ in cooperation with Cheltenham Borough Council
Public Art Panel (Young 2019b).
Completed in 2004, the work entitled ‘Listening Stones’ comprises nine glacial rolled granite boulders, most ‘an
more than 2m tall. To archaeological eyes their arrangement looks like a classic late Neolithic style stone row
and circle of ‘lollipop’ plan. Four stones are set in line over a distance of about 70m, orientated broadly
southwest to northeast (Figure 1). The most northerly stone also lies on the circumference of the stone circle,
completed with five other widely spaced stones forming a ring about 20m across (Figure 2). A dedicatory order in a
inscription cut into the polished face of an additional stone—sliced in half—stands immediately east of the
circle. The contrast between the linear and the circular is strong, although the two elements are clearly modern
joined. And within a municipal-parkland setting criss-crossed with paths and surrounded by trees, lamp-posts, world’
and benches the whole piece has an interesting ambiance resonating with feelings of an ancient order in a
modern world.

Figure 1. The stone row forming the linear element of the Figure 2. The stone circle at the northeastern end of the Listening
Listening Stones, Cheltenham, looking northeast. Stones, Cheltenham, looking west.

Some of the stones have been cut or roughly shaped, although each retains its original form, and effective
use is made of their natural colouration and textures in siting the motifs. Each stone has been carved and
‘encrypted lettered, some with coloured infill, to reflect different forms of communication: codes, ciphers, algebra,
encrypted messages, mysterious symbols, and recognisable written languages from across the world. Some
messages, take ancient themes with a modern twist, such as what looks like a Scandinavian runic inscription (Figure 3)
mysterious that reads ‘[LE]AD•US•FROM•DEATH•TO•LIFE•FROM•FALSEHOOD•TO•TRUTH•LEAD’ in a loop that seems
to run into the ground and out again. Others make use of wholly modern symbology but with the motifs
symbols’ arranged as if adorning an ancient rock art panel (Figure 4). Yet others seem to reach back to the most
ancient forms of rock art in the style of cup marks but in this case encoded with numbers and geometric
shapes within the cups (Figure 5).

Figure 3. The ‘runic stone’ on the west side Figure 4. The ‘symbol stone’ in the stone row, looking southwest.
of the stone circle, looking southeast.
Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Connections between the motifs, their meanings, and the work that goes on within the adjacent and
intervisible GCHQ is obvious. The very name of the work emphasises the link. But the symbolism runs ‘wood and
deeper, and probably draws on the speculative but interesting ‘Stone Tape’ theory, an idea grounded
in nineteenth century parapsychology (Anon 2019a) but popularised in the 1970s following the
stone somehow
broadcast by the BBC of Nigel Kneale’s Christmas ghost-story of the same name (Anon 2019b). The
basic proposition is that inanimate materials such as wood and stone somehow absorb a record of
absorb a record
nearby events, especially those that are emotionally charged. Under certain supernatural of nearby
circumstances this record will ‘replay’ as apparitions of various kinds that can be perceived by those
with appropriate sensitivities. events’
Speculative for sure, but, nonetheless, an interesting way of thinking that might just be relevant to understanding the intentions
of those behind the production and use of rock art in other cultures. Certainly, it is something to conjure with if you visit the
Listening Stones, and if you speak loudly or use your mobile phone while pondering their meanings beware as it might not only
be the nearby spooks that are recording your innermost thoughts, words, and emotional responses!

Figure 5. The ‘cup marked’ stone in the stone row. A general view looking northeast. B Detail of some of the ‘cup marks’.

Anon. 2019a. Stone tape. Wikipedia. Available online at; accessed 21 Sept 2019.
Anon. 2019b. The Stone Tape. Wikipedia. Available online at; accessed 21 Sept 2019.
Young, G. 2019a. Gordon Young. Website available at; accessed 21 September 2019.
Young, G. 2019b. The Listening Stones. Website available at; accessed 21
September 2019.

[All photographs by Timothy Darvill. Copyright reserved]

- 10 -
Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Faifley Rocks! Excavations around five rock art panels in West Dunbartonshire
Kenny Brophy, University of Glasgow

The urban rock art cluster on the northern edge of the housing estate of Faifley, Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, is best
known for its biggest site, the Cochno Stone. This huge rock art panel, some 100 square metres in size and covered in a dense
collection of cup-and-ring marks and modern graffiti, was buried in 1965 and remains that way, albeit with a brief period of
uncovering in 2015-16 for digital recording (Brophy 2018). However, in the vicinity are at least 15 other outcrops with
prehistoric symbols carved on them, most documented by Ronald Morris after fieldwork in the 1960s and 1970s (Morris 1981,
82 onwards).

Faifley Rocks! is a community project that follows on from the Cochno Stone recording to
excavate around all outcrops in the area, an endeavour that began in summer 2019 with two
“The proximity of a
short seasons of work, and which will take several years to complete. At the end of this
process, we will have a better idea, hopefully, of the rock art resource in this area, both in
large urban
terms of its prehistoric origins, but also the value and potential these sites have for the local population here
community. Increased knowledge and visibility of the rock art will support the creation of
walking trails, encourage school engagement and perhaps even lead to increased tourism. The makes this a unique
proximity of a large urban population here makes this a unique opportunity to engage lots of
people in their local cup-and-ring heritage. opportunity”
Five outcrops were investigated in summer 2019 to get the project started – Auchnacraig 1 and 3, and Whitehill 3, 4 and 5. The
excavations were preceded by survey of all rock art sites in the area undertaken by Scotland’s Rock art Project (ScRAP) in
March, which included photogrammetry, photography and paper records. Local community members (Figure 1) were amongst
those trained to locate and record rock art during this survey, a key element of Faifley Rocks!

Figure 1: Over 120 children visited or participated in the Auchnacraig excavations (K Brophy)

In each case, the objective was to open one or two small trench(es) to identify additional symbols and look for activity related
to the rock art both prehistoric and more recent. The setting of the Auchnacraig panels in the garden of a large house,
destroyed in the 1980s, was one driver behind our aspiration to see if we could find archaeological evidence for 20th century
engagement with the rock art sites. We also noted historic graffiti (some quite recent) on three of the five sites.

We recorded a drystone wall or kerb that abutted the southern extent of Auchnacraig 1, a richly decorated panel; the wall
appears to have an ‘entrance’ gap which suggests visitors and garden users were encouraged to climb onto the rock (Figure 2).
A marble found in the topsoil here may indicate games played on the stone, something already identified archaeologically and
through oral histories related to the Cochno Stone located some 300m to the north. A stone concentration on the east side of
this panel, abutting a near vertical rock face, is likely related to gardening, but could be interpreted as a ‘platform’ as was found
at Copt Howe, Lake District (Bradley et al 2019). Although we identified the natural at Auchnacraig 3 (Figure 3), no features
were noted nor any material culture related to this panel, which only has a couple of cup marks on its surface.

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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Figure 2 (left): Drystone wall or kerb abutting the southern edge of the Auchnacraig 1 panel (K Brophy);
Figure 3 (right): Post-excavation recording at Auchnacraig 3 (K Brophy)

At Whitehill, in a more rural setting amongst mature trees, our trenches all revealed bedrock, this being an extensive sandstone
ridge. Trial trenching in the vicinity continued this trend. Nonetheless at Whitehill 3 and 5 we identified previously unrecorded
symbols including seven new cupmarks at site 5 and multiple cup-and-ring markings at site 3. The latter is the second largest
panel in the area after Cochno (about 1km to the west) with dozens of symbols covering a flat sandstone surface area
measuring some 8m by 4m (Figure 4) and we were able to expand on Morris’s description of this site considerably.

At this site, and Auchnacraig 1, time spent cleaning and working around the stones allowed us a better appreciation of the
interrelationship between the carved symbols and natural cracks, veins and hollows in the outcrop itself.

Interim reports on both excavations

will be published on my blog, The
Urban Prehistorian. The intention is
to continue with this programme of
excavations in 2020, expanding to
sites that are less well known or
more comprehensively buried by
vegetation. Environmental context
should be added in subsequent
fieldwork seasons. Our long-term
aspiration is to both understand this
rock art group in its prehistoric
context, but also maximise the
benefits of this wonderful rock art
heritage for the local, and wider,

Figure 4: Whitehill 3 panel after

cleaning (K Brophy)

Acknowledgements: The excavations were carried out by teams of University of Glasgow students, local volunteers and
school children: thanks to all for their hard work. Alison Douglas supervised the Auchnacraig excavation in June, funded by
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; Yvonne Robertson supervised at Whitehill, work supported by the University of Glasgow.
Many thanks to Maya Hoole, Tertia Barnett, Stuart Jeffrey and the rest of the ScRAP team.

Bradley, R, Watson, A & Style, P 2019 After the axes? The rock art at Copt Howe, North-west England, and the Neolithic sequence at
Great Langdale. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 85.
Brophy, K 2018 ‘The finest set of cup and ring marks in existence’: the story of the Cochno Stone, West Dunbartonshire, Scottish
Archaeological Journal 40, 1-23.
Morris, R W B 1981 The prehistoric rock-art of southern Scotland (except Argyll and Galloway), Oxford: BAR British Series 86.
ScRAP Project
Urban Prehistorian

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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Report on the Annual British Rock Art Group Conference, June 2019
Max Howe, Newcastle University

BRAG 2019 delegates. Image: George Nash.

On the 8th and 9th of June 2019 the annual British Rock Art Group (BRAG) conference was hosted at Newcastle University
under the supervision of Aron Mazel and George Nash. As a student of Archaeology at the University I had engaged with a rock
art module and leapt at the opportunity to attend the BRAG event to meet many of the academics whose work I had been
reading. The event was an enjoyable mix of academic and amateur interests. Because British and Irish Rock art are often non-
figurative in nature, it is open to countless interpretations, as famously acknowledged in Ronald Morris’ hundred and four
varieties of the purpose of rock art, from worm casts to astronomical alignments.

Rob Collins opened the conference with his talk on depictions of Roman phalluses along Hadrian’s wall,
which, as might be expected, brought a few chuckles along the way. This enlightening talk revealed
how, although Roman era reliefs often aren’t referred to as rock art, studying them in a similar way can
provide a deeper understanding of how the communities of Hadrian’s Wall understood their world. The
phalluses on
presentation emphasised the ever-growing threat to British rock art of erosion. This would become a Hadrian’s
theme throughout the conference and was very apparent at the local rock art sites we visited on the
BRAG field trip the following day. Wall
Clare Busher O’Sullivan followed with a discussion of the history of Irish rock art recording. Focussing on
Laser her work in County Kerry, she described the technology of laser scanning, which allows the detection of
scanning in rock art that could not previously be recorded by rubbings or seen with the naked eye. This led to a
discussion on how laser scanning could be used in the future to record rock art panels before the onset of
County heavy erosion. Clare went on to discuss the importance of considering rock art, not only within the panel
itself, but within the surrounding environment and how, by including these factors, we can improve our
Kerry understanding of Irish (and other) rock art.

Myra Giesen, a pioneer of the rock art CARE app, then discussed the history of scheduling rock art in the
UK. For me this talk raised serious questions regarding the future of our UK rock art. Myra noted the
difficulties around the scheduling of rock art sites and how, through working with the rock art CARE app
along with County Archaeologists, more steps could be taken in the protection of the heritage asset. The
rock art in
use of GPS could help to locate the rock art sites and therefore aid in understanding the rock art and the UK
how to preserve it.

Following the first break of the day, Diana Coles discussed the ‘houses of the dead’ from Green on the
‘Houses of Isle of Eday, Orkney, noting the associations between rock art presented on Orkney, and in the rest of
the dead’ in the British Isles. Diana questioned whether rock art found within one of the houses had been placed
deliberately in association with a doorway at the end of occupation. She also noted that stones within the
Orkney house had been painted and reviewed how this may change our understanding of how rock art was used.

In the first of two talks, George Nash drew upon his work on prehistoric Scandinavian rock art to argue
that rock art at Cronk yn How on the Isle of Man can be used to understand Mesolithic hunter-gatherer
activities. George later gave a second talk regarding early prehistoric Mesolithic rock art which included
discussion of his own discovery of a new site in the West Midlands
Douglas Scott then provided an interesting talk based on his years of experience of attending rock art
Celestial sites during solstices. He suggested that rock art may be interpreted as representing celestial movements,
movements and a means by which the creators of the rock art engaged with their ancestors.

& ancestors
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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Following lunch, Vivien Deacon’s talk used the rock art of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire to explore the
physicality of making rock art, and how rock art placed in dangerous locations such as on the ‘Pancake
Stone’ may have had higher significance, with the carvers gaining esteem within the society. She noted
that a small number of decorated sites are substantial and function as natural monuments, with smaller
physical on
panels having a view of one or more of them. She also questioned whether these sites were actually the Ilkley Moor
focus of night-time, rather than daytime activity.

In the next talk, Phil Bowyer discussed rock art in Tynedale and summed up what is wonderful about the
Community study of rock art in Britain: how amateurs and enthusiasts can come together with academics to not only
rocks in enjoy, but to learn and discover more about British and Irish rock art. As a student with a keen interest, I
related to this talk as I often encourage my own friends and family to engage with the local rock art.
Jemma Singleton continued the event with an informative talk on anthropomorphic petroglyphs in
Northern India. This was very different to previous papers and certainly piqued my interest, not only due
to the location. Jemma explained the technique by which the rock art was created, called ‘bruising’, and
how the colour and the extent of the abrasion of the layers of rock could allow for estimations of the age
morphs in
of the art. India
Aron Mazel concluded the day’s talks, presenting his study into the power of shaded paintings in the
Shades of Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg and surrounding areas of southern Africa. He described how subtle changes in
stress in the way rock art was created may reflect stresses within the society. He argued that changing rituals led
to the production of more life-like depictions created through the introduction of shadowing, allowing
South Africa greater shape, depth and motion. This was a fabulous end to a day of interesting discussions on rock art
that further captured my interest in the subject.

The following day, Aron Mazel led a field trip to the rock art sites of Lordenshaws and Roughting Linn in Northumberland, both
fascinating examples. The Lordenshaws site highlighted some of the major threats facing British rock art: not only extensive
erosion but also quarrying, vandalism and burning.

For me BRAG 2019 was an excellent coming-together of the academic and the curious, linked by their shared love of a
dangerously disappearing heritage.

BRAG fieldtrip: delegates gather at Main Rock, Lordenshaws. Image: George Nash.

BRAG fieldtrip from left to right (images by Max Howe): ‘The Horseshoe Rock’ Lordenshaws, famous for its complex patterns; East
Lordenshaws - possibly the longest groove in the UK; one of the few signs acknowledging the protection of rock art in Britain at Main
Rock, Lordenshaws; and Roughting Linn.
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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

ROCK ART READS: new and forthcoming publications (prices correct in Sep 2019)

Making a mark: image and Narratives and journeys in rock

process in Neolithic Britain and art: a reader
Ireland George Nash & Aron Mazel (Ed.)
Andrew Meirion Jones & Marta Díaz-
Guardamino Archaeopress Archaeology; 703p;
ISBN 9781784915605
Oxbow Books; 320p; £47.05 [paperback]
ISBN: 9781789251883
£40 [paperback]

An engraved landscape – Vols 1 The Oxford handbook of the

& 2: the rock carvings of the archaeology and anthropology
Wadi al-Ajal, South West Libya of rock art
Tertia Barnett Bruno David & Ian J. McNiven (Ed.)

Society for Libyan Studies; Vol 1- Oxford University press; 1152p;

320p; Vol 2-582p; ISBN: 9780190607357
ISBN: 9781900971515 £112.85 [hardback]
£80 per volume [hardback]
Vol1 1 – synthesis; volume 2 - 351/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_EZqzDbV
gazeteer ZYPQM7


Damien Hirst 'Noble Path' (2019) © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2019.
Photo © Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

ROCK ART ABSTRACTS: Headlines from recent journal papers. What are researchers currently thinking
about? (Full papers may not be available without subscription)

Making sense of 3D data with GIS Mobile VR app for Spanish art Pigment processing in Sulawesi
Topographic landscape analysis This paper presents an AR application Spectroscopic and microscopic
techniques, initially developed for developed in Cova dels Cavalls that analyses of pigment from rock art
LiDAR processing, are used to produce recreates a possible original motifs in South Sulawesi include both
clear images that have the precision composition of motifs with descriptive dark red and purple colours. Although
and dimensional accuracy of 3D information to improve guided tour both contain iron oxide,
captured data, but the visual clarity of user experiences. It targets non- microstructural differences are cause
traditional methods. An approach expert visitors as a means of the discrepancy in the observed
based on local relief modelling is tested improving rock art knowledge and colours, presumably the result of
through case studies of Bronze Age sensibility of a fragile archaeological varying pigment-processing methods
Scandinavian petroglyphs. UNESCO Work Heritage site. used by the prehistoric artists.

Horn, C. et al. 2019. Blanco-Pons, S. et al. 2019. Kurniawan, R. et al. 2019.

An evaluation of the visualisation and Design and implementation of an Chemistry of prehistoric rock art
interpretive potential of applying GIS augmented reality application for rock pigments from the Indonesian island
data processing techniques to 3D rock art visualization in Cova dels Cavalls of Sulawesi. Microchemical Journal,
art data. Journal of Archaeological (Spain). Journal of Cultural Heritage, 146: 227–33.
Science: Reports, 27: 101971. 39:177–85.

Patagonian rock art networks Rock art and routes in the Altai ‘Orinoco Flow’
A study of the rock art of northern Paths of least-cost were used to The spatial distribution and stylistic
Patagonia based on network analysis create an accessibility map of the attributes of rock engravings and
reveals a significant aggregation of Altai, which compared with the paintings on both banks of the
archaeological sites, linked by common locations of rock-art sites. Many but Orinoco, centred on the Átures Rapids
rock art motifs. These are consistent not all rock art sites were located are presented. The authors discuss
with the geographical distribution and either on or near routes that potential links, as well as notable
archaeological background of hunter- experienced medium to high discontinuities, within the assemblage
gatherer stages of populations and frequency traffic. and possibly further afield and
land use. consider the theoretical implications
for the study of pre-Columbian art.
O'Sullivan, R. 2019.
Vargas, F.E. et al. 2019. Movement across a ‘mountain
barrier’: Mapping accessibility with Riris, P. and Oliver, J. 2019.
Digging the topology of rock art in
Northwestern Patagonia. Journal of rock-art and GIS in the Altai Patterns of style, diversity, and
Mountains, Eastern Eurasia. Journal similarity in Middle Orinoco rock art
Complex Networks, cnz033, of Archaeological Science: assemblages. Arts 8(2): 48.
Reports, 27: 101979.

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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

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

12-13 Oct 2019 Northern Prehistory: Connected Communities. Two-day conference at Tullie
House Museum, Carlisle. Keynote: Richard Bradley. See back page for more details.

29 Oct 2019 Rock Art of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg in South Africa. Lecture by Aron
Mazel, Newcastle University. Teesside Archaeological Society, Stockton

30 Oct 2019 The 18th Sara Champion Memorial Lecture: Fragments of the Bronze Age.
Destruction, deposition and personhood Lecture by Matthew G. Knight, National Museums
Scotland. Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London

4 Nov 2019 After ‘Gathering Time’: new perspectives on Early Neolithic enclosures
Neolithic Studies Group November Meeting. The British Museum, London.

8-10 Nov 2019 Bronze Age Forum. University of Durham.

18 Nov 2019 Between Avebury and Stonehenge. The Neolithic monuments of the Pewsey
Vale. Lecture by Jim Leary, University of York (Annual joint Scarborough Archaeological and
Historical Society / Prehistoric Society lecture). Scarborough Library, Scarborough.

22-23 Nov 2019 Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium
(NEBARSS). University of Worcester. Keynote: Richard Bradley & David Mullin. or or

22 Nov 2019 Putting the prehistory of the North Pennines on the map: discoveries made
during English Heritage’s ‘Miner - Farmer Landscapes’ project’. Lecture by Alastair Oswald,
York University (Inaugural Joint Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological
Society/Prehistoric Society lecture). Tullie House, Carlisle.

19 Nov-3 Dec 2019 Explore British Rock Art: Context and Conservation. A series of three
lectures by Kate Sharpe for the Explore Lifelong Learning programme. Newcastle Upon Tyne.

11 Mar 2020 Hidden in Plain Sight – Revealing the forgotten monuments of northern
England. Lecture by Emma Watson, Durham University.
Northumberland Archaeological Group, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

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Issue No. 21: Autumn 2019

Connected Communities
12th-13th October 2019
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle

Key Note: Professor Richard Bradley

This two-day conference will bring together a range of professionals from archaeological units, curators, museum
educators, students, academics and community centred groups to explore the interdisciplinary nature of the
connections within Northern Prehistory.
Tullie House will host the conference with our partners at Durham University and use this opportunity to discuss
how public-facing heritage sites can interact with and utilise archaeological and academic expertise. With the inclusion
of Prehistory to the National Curriculum in 2014 both school children and the wider public are becoming interested
in their prehistoric heritage, making this an important time to inspire new research and engagement that will move
Northern and Cumbrian prehistory into the 21st Century.
Tickets are now available through the box office. Please call 01228 618700. Tickets are also available
via Eventbrite (which includes a booking fee). The conference ticket will give delegates access to a full day of talks on
Saturday (12th Oct), a half day of talks on the Sunday (13th of Oct) morning and an afternoon of interactive sessions
and workshops or a fieldtrip. Lunch and refreshments are included with the ticket fee. If you have any dietary
requirements, please contact Katie Mitchell at Conference tickets grant attendees
free access to the museum for the weekend of the conference.
The Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society will award four Clare Fell Fund Bursaries
of up to £150 each to students to attend this conference. Applications (no need for an application form) should be
made direct to the society treasurer Dr W D Shannon at giving name, address, age,
institution attending, course i.e. graduate/post-graduate, special interests. Applications should be made as soon as
Further information
Additional information, including a provisional programme, details of the fieldtrip and conference dinner are available
at For any other enquiries
please contact Elsa Price on
This conference has been kindly sponsored by the Council for British Archaeology North.

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