Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric rock art in Patterdale 40m north west of Beckstones

A Scheduled Monument in Patterdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.527 / 54°31'37"N

Longitude: -2.9234 / 2°55'24"W

OS Eastings: 340335.820257

OS Northings: 515022.520999

OS Grid: NY403150

Mapcode National: GBR 8J02.WZ

Mapcode Global: WH81V.2G5X

Entry Name: Prehistoric rock art in Patterdale 40m north west of Beckstones

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019435

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32872

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Patterdale

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Patterdale St Patrick

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a prehistoric rock art site in Patterdale 40m north west
of Beckstones. It consists of exposed granite bedrock which has been quarried
at its northern end and which is angled at about 20 degrees from the
horizontal. Upon the sloping summit of the bedrock a series of prehistoric
rock carvings have been made. These carvings consist of numerous motifs
including `cup' marks, ie small circular hollows in the rock, ovals,
rectangles with rounded corners, and some grooves or channels pecked into the

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
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 the bedrock and a thin growth of vegetation which
may obscure some of the motifs, the prehistoric rock art in Patterdale 40m
north west of Beckstones survives well. It is one of four recently discovered
prehistoric rock art sites in Patterdale which together will contribute
greatly to further study and understanding of prehistoric rock art sites in
the region.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, New Discoveries, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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