Monday, 25 February 2019

Notice of a new blog about exploring ancient archaeology

Notice of a new blog - maybe weekly? - recording the mostly-prehistoric archaeological explorations of me and my wife around Northumbria:

This first episode is about an apparently unrecorded example of neolithic/ bronze age 'rock art' we stumbled across a couple of days ago, while looking for something else...


Francis Berger said...

I lived in Northumberland for eight months, but only managed to see a handful of sites during my time there, so I welcome the opportunity to continue exploring Northumberland vicariously through your posts on this blog.

I don't know if it qualifies as 'ancient', but I was particularly impressed by the the thriteenth-century St Bartholomew Church in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. I was quite taken by its sublime location right on the coast. It seemed such a natural part of the landscape - as if it had just grown out of the ground.

dearieme said...

"neolithic/ bronze age ": that covers roughly three millennia. Good: I don't like over-confident claims of the age of stuff.

Even that neglects the possibility that they were carved far later by, say, bored soldiery.

Did you see the recent, mild fuss about the fake stone circle in Aberdeenshire?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Francis - The Charlton side of my family are from Newbiggin, and it was where I spent two holidays a year through might entire childhood. So I used to know the place very well! But interestingly, I never actually went inside St Barts church. One of these days...

@d - It is much more difficult to date these carved rocks, than stone circles (an archaeologist would know that a stone was recently placed within a few minutes of digging) but I don't think the bored soldier type explanation suffices in general - there would need to be thousands of them, very bored indeed, spread out across a very wide area of the most thinly populated land in England, chipping away for a very long time!

Some of patterns look very like maps of exactly the kind of concentric mounded 'hill forts' which occur in the same areas as the rock art - there are at least three such 'hill forts' within a mile of the rock we found.

The only plausible alternative to ancient carving is natural weathering producing simple holes and troughs (although obviously not the complex patterns) - but the weathering looks less regular and shallower, and most of the rock faces don't have any of this kind of cup shape (we had looked at about fifty rocks before we found this one). And the more deep, round cups there are, the more sure that they were carved.