England’s Rock Art

Baildon Moor, Yorkshire – Photograph: B Kerr/English Heritage, via The Guardian, UK

Long time readers know that I’m passionately interested in ancient rock art (as can be seen under that category link on the side). It’s been a while since I’ve written about the many exciting discoveries I keep reading about on the net.

Last week, thanks to British Rock Art Blog I read about the launch of ERA: England’s Rock Art on the Web. The main page has a slide show of beautiful photographs, a bit slow so give it some time, then check out the other great links to information and more images.

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.

Concurrently while I was thinking about this blog post, blog pal A Mouse in France, knowing how I love great photos of rock art on the web, posted a link directed to me for the Guardian’s page and slide show of Britain’s prehistoric rock art and the same heritage site! Again, gorgeous slides plus an article by Jonathan Jones.

I recognized several images especially the above image of a rock on Baildon Moor, Yorkshire from a wonderful and authoritative book I bought secondhand several years ago: Jean McMann’s Riddles of the Stone Age – Rock Carving of Ancient Europe (Thames and Hudson 1980). It was the first in my small collection of books on rock art and is still a treasure.

I admire the work of the photographers for I know these subjects are not always easy to capture well, from my own experiences here in BC and Alberta. Like Mouse, I’d like to visit these petroglyphs and so many other rock art sites in the UK, and elsewhere… anywhere in the world! So, these kinds of websites are wonderful for armchair travellers like me.

August 4, 2008 in Rock Art & Archaeology by Marja-Leena