15 July 2018

Carvings

One day, when we were in south west Scotland, we took a detour to Dumtroddan Farm. We left Clint near the farmhouse and walked through a couple of gateways into a  cow field. Near the centre of the field there were two fenced off areas and within them there were low-lying rocky outcrops. There was another fenced off area on the edge of adjacent woodland and within this there was a similar outcrop.

Why the iron fencing? Well it was a means of protecting some very special rock carvings. Though four thousand years may have passed by, you could still make out the patterns left by Bronze Age people. They are known as "cup and ring" carvings and similar patterned stonework can be seen in numerous locations in Scotland, northern England, Wales, Ireland, northern Spain, Brittany in France and indeed much further afield.
 Just wo of the cup and ring carvings at Dumtroddan
Nobody knows why the carvings were made. Did they have some religious significance? Were they about marking territory? Were they connected with rituals or arithmetic? We can only guess though various theories abound.

Back home in Sheffield, I learnt that some very old stone carving has been found on a rock in Ecclesall Woods - about a mile from our house. Archaeological experts have concluded that this rock was also carved during The Bronze Age - perhaps 3500 years ago. Yesterday I went looking for it. 

I knew roughly where to find it though it isn't close to any of the woodland paths. With a bit of guesswork and scrabbling through undergrowth I finally located the little clearing in which this historic rock sits. It was carved long before Jesus Christ, The Lord Buddha or Muhammad were even dreamed of. 

I ran my fingers gently along the lines in the rock and wondered about the men who carved it. They would have had no idea that their handiwork would last so long - nor would they have ever imagined that a 21st century schizoid man would one day pause amidst the trees to think of them.
 In Ecclesall Woods yesterday

16 comments:

  1. It is thrilling to touch something so old, isn't it? Somehow it puts the concept of time into a different perspective.

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    1. "Thrilling" - yes. Such ancient artefacts certainly do put a lot of things into proper perspective Jenny.

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  2. Things like this are just amazing to me. I think it must be very interesting to be an archaeologist. Doesn't it make you wonder who walked the grounds you live on before you. About five miles from where I live the skeleton of a dinosaur, a mammoth, was unearthed that proved to be over 500,000 years old. I never expected that to be found in Missouri but I guess they could have been anywhere. The kind of stone near your house is even more amazing to me since it speaks of intelligent people that walked that land so long ago.

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    1. "Amazing" is a good word to use in relation to such wonders Bonnie.

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  3. I never cease to be fascinated by ancient places and I am glad you had the chance to go there, and share them with us.
    By the way I do think the creators of these carvings were aware of their long-lastingness. Maybe that was one of the points why they made them, to create something that to them seemed eternal, like the stars above.

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    1. You are probably right Meike and your response reminds me that our ancient ancestors were far more obsessed by the heavenly bodies than we are. Perhaps the carvings had some relationship with the sky - stars, the sun and moon.

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  4. Isn't that wonderful. I often ponder on the people before us. I wonder how they got on without Buddha, Allah etc to guide them? quite well I would think.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Yes I agree. After all they had the sun, the moon and the seasons to believe in

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  5. Interesting, to have something so remarkable so close to your own house! It IS incredible that these carvings have lasted so long. (That last one looks a bit like a John Deere.)

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    1. You mean a tractor? I could be wrong but I do not believe they had tractors in The Bronze Age!

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  6. The green rock is quite intriguing. Geology isn't my strong point although I thought that most Northern England was principally limestone and sandstone. So what is the green rock which reminds me of a rather coarse jade?

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    1. The green is just surface growth - algae and moss. I believe that the stone is millstone grit. There's alot of it around Sheffield. It's a very hard, compounded form of sandstone.

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  7. How interesting! Do the anthropologists and/or geologists have any idea as to where the rock came from, was it buried somehow and just emerged recently (a relative term, in this case), what tool was used to carve it?

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    1. The carved rock in Ecclesall Woods was found by a council worker as recently as 1981! It would have probably been carved with harder stone tools - such as flint. This is what Historic England had to say about it -
      "The well preserved cup and ring carved rock 740m east of Park Head House is the first prehistoric carving to be discovered in the eastern foothills of the South Pennines. It is therefore a very rare, in situ, example of prehistoric rock art in this area. The carving itself is also unusual, with the raised oval boss being unique in its composition."

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  8. The ancient carvings are fascinating...interesting. Similar applies here in the country with the various Aboriginal paintings in various parts of Australia.

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