Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cup and ring marked rock on Tod Crag

A Scheduled Monument in Hollinghill, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1964 / 55°11'47"N

Longitude: -2.0454 / 2°2'43"W

OS Eastings: 397207.976

OS Northings: 589129.719

OS Grid: NY972891

Mapcode National: GBR G84C.Z1

Mapcode Global: WHB17.KN76

Entry Name: Cup and ring marked rock on Tod Crag

Scheduled Date: 21 July 1934

Last Amended: 30 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013542

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25037

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Hollinghill

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Elsdon St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a series of cup and ring marks situated on a natural
shelf of sandstone on the northern edge of a rocky plateau known as Tod Crag.
The visible part of the outcrop, which measures 3m by 1.5m, bears a scatter of
at least 23 circular depressions, or cup marks, formed by chipping the rock
surface with a hand tool. The cups vary in size but are on average 7cm-8cm in
diameter with the largest measuring 12cm and the smallest 3cm. At least six
of the cups are surrounded by concentric double rings similarly pecked out of
the sandstone; these cups with rings form an outer arc to the apparently
random pattern of carvings. Two other cups are surrounded by single rings and
three of those surrounded by rings also have narrow ducts running from their
centre. Further carvings may exist on the surface of the outcrop which is
still covered by vegetation.
The site of a round cairn south of the rock is much disturbed and is not
included in the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 marks on Tod Crag are particularly well defined and are good
examples of their type. They will add to our knowledge and understanding of
prehistoric rock art in Britain.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Northumberland's Prehistoric Rock Carvings: A Mystery Explained , (1983), 221-2
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 2, (1992), 58
Newbigin, E R, 'Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 4' in Proc Soc Antiq Ncle 4 ser 4, (1930), 86-8
NY 98 NE 02,

Source: Historic England

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