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England’s Rock Art

September 2, 2008

Amongst the outcrops and boulders of northern England keen eyes may spot an array of mysterious symbols carved into the rock surfaces. These curious marks vary from simple, circular hollows known as ‘cups’ to more complex patterns with cups, rings, and intertwining grooves. Many are in spectacular, elevated locations with extensive views but some are also found on monuments such as standing stones and stone circles, or within burial mounds. The carvings were made by Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people between 3500 and 6000 years ago. The original meaning of the symbols is now lost but they provide a unique personal link with our prehistoric ancestors.

These fascinating carvings are threatened by a combination of human and natural factors; many have already weathered away or been lost to activities such as quarrying. We urgently need to record and conserve these ancient marks so they can be studied and enjoyed by future generations. England’s Rock Art database (ERA) is a major step towards that goal. ERA currently covers the counties of Northumberland and County Durham, which both have major concentrations of rock art. It is intended that it will one day provide a record for all of England’s rock art.

Find out how you can be involved in recording rock art: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/era/

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