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The Langdale Boulders, two prehistoric rock art sites in Great Langdale 250m south of Harry Place

A Scheduled Monument in Lakes, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.4433 / 54°26'35"N

Longitude: -3.0593 / 3°3'33"W

OS Eastings: 331401.269634

OS Northings: 505836.639848

OS Grid: NY314058

Mapcode National: GBR 7K21.GZ

Mapcode Global: WH710.ZLC2

Entry Name: The Langdale Boulders, two prehistoric rock art sites in Great Langdale 250m south of Harry Place

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019434

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32871

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Lakes

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Langdale Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes what are known in rock climbing circles as The Langdale
Boulders, two prehistoric rock art sites in Great Langdale 250m south of Harry
Place. It consists of two very large boulders of Andesitic tuff a few metres
apart upon which a series of prehistoric rock carvings have been made. The
boulders were in their present position when carved upon. The western of the
two boulders, Boulder A, contains the most extensive carvings of the two
rocks. These are found on the vertical east face of the rock and include a
central unmarked `boss' and multiple concentric circles, one having up to
eleven rings. A linear feature in the shape of a chevron appears to be linked
to the unmarked `boss' by triple grooves which appear to have been carved
upwards. Many other unusual motifs are present on the rock face. Other
features include numerous `cup' marks - ie small circular hollows in the
rock. Whilst some of these `cup' marks are undoubtably man made and are
surrounded by rings, others appear to have been formed by the natural erosion
of mineral deposits within the rock. However, many of these natural `cups'
have been utilised to form part of the overall pattern and design of the rock
carving. The linear and `boss' carvings on Boulder A have comparisons with
carvings elsewhere, notably one found at The Glassonby cairn circle in eastern
Cumbria, and Temple Wood in Argyll.
The eastern boulder, Boulder B, has been partially quarried and appears to
have only one carving of two uncompleted rings, together with many natural
`cups' on the vertical southern face.
A drystone wall and wooden stile are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 (c.2800-500 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.

Despite partial quarrying of one of the boulders, The Langdale Boulders
prehistoric rock art sites in Great Langdale 250m south of Harry Place survive
well. Boulder A in particular displays a wide assortment of differing motifs
including a concentric circle of 11 rings, the largest number of concentric
rings known from a prehistoric rock carving site in Britain. Together with
Boulder B the monument will contribute greatly to further study and
understanding of prehistric rock art sites in the region.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Fell and Rock Climbing Club Guide To Langdale360
Brown, P, Brown, B, Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Carvings: Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, Cumbria, (1999)
Brown, P, Brown, B, Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Carvings: Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, Cumbria, (1999)
Brown, P, Brown, B, Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Carvings: Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, Cumbria, (1999)
Brown, P, Brown, B, Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Carvings: Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, Cumbria, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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