Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Prehistoric cup marked stone 380m south of Gillalees

A Scheduled Monument in Askerton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0307 / 55°1'50"N

Longitude: -2.6729 / 2°40'22"W

OS Eastings: 357085.084078

OS Northings: 570887.937126

OS Grid: NY570708

Mapcode National: GBR 9BS8.3G

Mapcode Global: WH7ZF.XTC9

Entry Name: Prehistoric cup marked stone 380m south of Gillalees

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016399

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27784

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Askerton

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Lanercostwith Kirkcambeck St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a prehistoric carved granite stone which is located 380m
south of Gillalees. The stone measures 1.2m long by 0.3m thick and
is 1.2m wide at its western end tapering to 0.7m wide at its eastern end. Its
uppermost face displays prehistoric rock art carving depicting 27 cup marks,
two rings, a chevron, and a sinuous linear feature. The cup marks are shallow
circular depressions pecked into the stone; they vary in size between 0.04m to
0.1m in diameter and two of the larger ones are each surrounded by a single
carved ring. The chevron has been carved at the eastern end of the stone with
its apex pointing to the west. Close to the chevron, near the north east
corner of the stone, there is a faint sinuous linear feature measuring
approximately 0.26m long with two arms curving towards the northern edge of
the stone.

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 (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
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 marked stone 380m south of Gillalees is one of a small number of
examples of prehistoric rock art known in Cumbria. It contains a variety of
designs and is a good example of this class of monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Cumbrian Prehistoric Rock Art: Symbols, Monument & Landscapes, (1992), 30

Source: Historic England

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