Ancient Monuments

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Standing stone with cup markings, 50m south of Standing Stone Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Matfen, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0286 / 55°1'42"N

Longitude: -1.9494 / 1°56'57"W

OS Eastings: 403329.506071

OS Northings: 570447.511635

OS Grid: NZ033704

Mapcode National: GBR GBT9.R6

Mapcode Global: WHB22.0VZX

Entry Name: Standing stone with cup markings, 50m south of Standing Stone Farm

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Last Amended: 4 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014068

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25179

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Matfen

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Matfen Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a standing stone of Bronze Age date situated on a high
plateau. The standing stone is 2.15m high by 1m broad and is 0.6m thick and
has been formed from a massive freestone block. The upper parts of the stone
are deeply grooved and weathered and this has removed much of the original
surface of the stone. The lower section of the stone is, however, intact and
on three of the four sides it displays cup marks, a form of prehistoric
decoration where circular hollows are pecked out of the surface of the stone.
A total of 18 cup marks are thought to be visible on the east face, four on
the north face and eight on the west face in addition to several indistinct
peck marks on all three faces which may mark the position of further less
obvious cup marks. The monument is Listed Grade II.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates
ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few
excavated examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs,
ranging from under lm to over 6m high where still erect. They are often
conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can
be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edge of round
barrows, and where excavated, associated subsurface features have included
stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth
containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints, pots and pot sherds.
Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones,
which range considerably in depth. Several standing stones also bear cup and
ring marks. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways,
territories, graves, or meeting points, but their accompanying features show
they also bore a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual
monument classes of their period that often contain a deposit of cremation and
domestic debris as an integral component. No national survey of standing
stones has been undertaken, and estimates range from 50 to 250 extant
examples, widely distributed throughout England but with concentrations in
Cornwall, the North Yorkshire Moors, Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Cotswolds.
Standing stones are important as nationally rare monuments, with a high
longevity and demonstrating the diversity of ritual practices in the Late
Neolithic and Bronze Age. Consequently all undisturbed standing stones and
those which represent the main range of types and locations would normally be
considered to be of national importance.

Prehistoric rock art is found in many areas of upland Britain and it is
especially common in the north of England. The most common form of decoration
is the `cup and ring marking' where small cup like hollows are pecked into the
surface of rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. Other
shapes and patterns may 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 standing stone
at Standing Stone Farm is very well preserved and retains significant
archaeological information; it is of particular importance as it retains
evidence of prehistoric motifs and it is one of a small group of three
standing stones in the area which, taken together, will add greatly to our
knowledge of Bronze Age activity in the region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Northumberland's Prehistoric Rock Carvings: A Mystery Explained , (1983), 220
Beckensall, S, Northumberland's Prehistoric Rock Carvings: A Mystery Explained , (1983), 20
Hope-Dodds, M (ed), A History of Northumberland Volume 12, (1940), 12
Hope-Dodds, M , The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XII, (1940), 12
Tomlinson, W W, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland, (1888)

Source: Historic England

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