Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cup and ring marked rocks on Chirnells Moor, 800m east of Red Chirnells

A Scheduled Monument in Cartington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3188 / 55°19'7"N

Longitude: -1.9363 / 1°56'10"W

OS Eastings: 404141.775248

OS Northings: 602751.553687

OS Grid: NU041027

Mapcode National: GBR G6XY.L5

Mapcode Global: WHB0Q.7K7W

Entry Name: Cup and ring marked rocks on Chirnells Moor, 800m east of Red Chirnells

Scheduled Date: 23 April 1934

Last Amended: 4 November 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011294

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20886

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 an area of bedrock which outcrops in at least seven
places with many groups of cupmarks and several cup and ring marks visible on
its surface. The outcrops form a low ridge which extends for 101m north-east
to south-west along the crest of Chirnells Moor and for 28m north-west to
south-east. The rocks bear a wide variety of combinations of cupmarks
distributed in lines, in large clusters and occurring in isolation, measuring
in general 6cm in diameter. One of the rocks at the south-eastern end of the
ridge bears at least 38 single cupmarks. A few of the cupmarks are surrounded
by rings; one of the rocks contains six such features. Other features typical
of cup and ring marked rocks in the area are faint linear features and large
shallow basins, one of the latter measuring 22cm across.

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 rocks on Chirnells Moor display many of the
characteristic symbols typical of Prehistoric rock art in upland Britain and
in addition some particularly local features. Typically in Coquetdale, few of
the cups are surrounded by rings but are associated with meandering linear
grooves; the combination of the usual and the unusual is especially

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Newbigin, E R, 'Proc. Soc. Antic. Newcastle 4 ser 6 1933-1934' in Cup Marked Rocks On Chirnells Moor, Rothbury, (1934), 345-8
Newbigin, E R, 'Proc. Soc. Antic. Newcastle 4 ser 8 1937-1938' in A Cup Marked Stone From Cartington, (1938), 114
No. 2259,

Source: Historic England

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