Ancient Monuments

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Cup and ring marked rock 740m east of Park Head House

A Scheduled Monument in Ecclesall, Sheffield

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Latitude: 53.3442 / 53°20'39"N

Longitude: -1.5113 / 1°30'40"W

OS Eastings: 432631.909756

OS Northings: 383141.473865

OS Grid: SK326831

Mapcode National: GBR KYWR.LX

Mapcode Global: WHCCQ.R6JM

Entry Name: Cup and ring marked rock 740m east of Park Head House

Scheduled Date: 21 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018265

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29932

County: Sheffield

Electoral Ward/Division: Ecclesall

Built-Up Area: Sheffield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Abbeydale and Millhouses

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument includes a carved, earthfast, coarse sandstone rock near the
north eastern edge of Ecclesall Wood. The rock is situated approximately 70m
north east of a junction of two footpaths which run through the wood from
north to south.
The carving on the slightly domed upper surface of the rock consists of three
sub-oval, deeply cut rings, each surrounding one to four shallower cups
connected by gutters. The central ring with its internal cups has been
emphasised by cutting away the sandstone on three sides to form a raised oval
boss. This feature is possibly unique and illustrates that the carving was
designed with visual prominence in mind rather than being executed purely as a
ceremonial act. Other unusual features of the carving are the gutters near the
edge of the slab which surround much of the carving. Internal gutters
subdivide the slab into several irregular, enclosure-like, zones.
The various elements of the carving are not cut to a consistent depth,
frequently shallow features being intersected by deeper ones. This feature
indicates that the carving was not executed as a unitary design but was been
modified over time. There are several irregular patches of shallow carving on
the slab which may represent attempts to cut away obtrusive features of
earlier designs. Elsewhere on the slab they serve to emphasise particular

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 well preserved cup and ring carved rock 740m east of Park Head House is
the first prehistoric carving to be discovered in the eastern foothills of the
South Pennines. It is therefore a very rare, in situ, example of prehistoric
rock art in this area. The carving itself is also unusual, with the raised
oval boss being unique in its composition.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Frith, P, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Newly Discovered Cup And Ring Carving in Ecclesall Wood, Sheff, , Vol. 103, (1983), 41-42

Source: Historic England

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