Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cup and ring marked rock, 1km south-west of East Bolton

A Scheduled Monument in Hedgeley, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4329 / 55°25'58"N

Longitude: -1.8053 / 1°48'18"W

OS Eastings: 412420.962855

OS Northings: 615460.450357

OS Grid: NU124154

Mapcode National: GBR H5TM.Z8

Mapcode Global: WHC1B.7PMY

Entry Name: Cup and ring marked rock, 1km south-west of East Bolton

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1973

Last Amended: 12 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007519

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21033

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Hedgeley

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Whittingham and Edlingham with Bolton Chapel

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a cup and ring marked rock situated at the foot of a
south facing slope in an area of outcropping rock. The flat rock is a natural
outcrop measuring 1m by 1.2m. The rock is inscribed with four cup marks or
shallow circular depressions pecked out of the natural surface; they range in
size from 4cm to 8cm in diameter. A further four cups are surrounded by
concentric rings or circular grooves pecked out of the rock, the largest of
which has a diameter of 20cm. Two of the cup and ring marks are connected by a
curvilinear channel while one of the largest cup and ring marks has a deep
wavy channel, known as a serpentine groove, emanating from the central cup and
cutting through the surrounding grooves.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Prehistoric rock art is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland
Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland,
Durham and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is the
`cup and ring' marking where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked
into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more
`rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the `rings' may
also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also
occur, but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or
may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and
Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one of our most important
insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains
unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols.
Frequently they are found close to contemporary burial monuments and the
symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or
incorporated in burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art
have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection
of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed
in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified prehistoric rock
art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will normally be
identified as nationally important.

The cup and ring marked rock near East Bolton is well preserved and displays a
wide selection of the range of symbols normally found in Northumberland. It
will contribute to our understanding of prehistoric rock art in England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hogg, A H A, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 11' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 11, (1947), 281

Source: Historic England

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