Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cupmarked stone, 690m south-west of Wagtail Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Cartington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2981 / 55°17'53"N

Longitude: -1.8973 / 1°53'50"W

OS Eastings: 406621.170442

OS Northings: 600449.357288

OS Grid: NU066004

Mapcode National: GBR H765.1L

Mapcode Global: WHB0X.T3Q7

Entry Name: Cupmarked stone, 690m south-west of Wagtail Farm

Scheduled Date: 18 January 1933

Last Amended: 26 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011288

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20881

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Cartington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a cupmarked rock of Late Neolithic/Bronze Age date,
situated immediately above the steep bank of a small stream which drains into
the Whitton Burn. The rock, part of a natural outcrop, measures 1m across; a
cluster of at least five distinct carved depressions or cupmarks are visible
on the rock face, two of which, placed centrally, are unusually large,
measuring 20cm across and 8 cm deep. Three smaller cupmarks lie around the
larger ones and the slight traces of several others can also be seen. All of
the marks were made by picking at the rock with a hard tool of stone or metal.

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'. Pecked lines or grooves can
also exist in isolation from cup and ring decoration. 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 (c.2800-500 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
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 will normally be identified as nationally important.

This is a good example of a rock decorated only with cupmarks.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Northumberland's Prehistoric Rock Carvings: A Mystery Explained , (1983)

Source: Historic England

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