Ancient Monuments

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Rock art including four animal carvings at Goatscrag rock shelter, 155m north west of Routin Lynn

A Scheduled Monument in Ford, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.6268 / 55°37'36"N

Longitude: -2.0379 / 2°2'16"W

OS Eastings: 397711.79

OS Northings: 637019.85

OS Grid: NT977370

Mapcode National: GBR G36C.LS

Mapcode Global: WH9Z3.NTST

Entry Name: Rock art including four animal carvings at Goatscrag rock shelter, 155m north west of Routin Lynn

Scheduled Date: 7 April 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1417671

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ford

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ford And Etal

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


A rock art panel comprising four animal carvings on the rear wall of a rock shelter thought to be of late prehistoric or early medieval date.

Source: Historic England


The panel (ERA 11) is within the more westerly of the two main rock shelters situated at the foot of Goatscrag. The site provides an extensive viewpoint south of the surrounding landscape including the Cheviot Hills.

The panel faces west and is a smooth, almost vertical surface 1.5m wide and 2m high. It is divided into three parts by natural cracks. The carvings, located at eye level, occupy a space 0.5m by 0.4m; they comprise four animals in profile and the position of the heads suggest that they are all moving or facing the same way. They are arranged in a single line of three with a fourth solitary figure above and a little to the right beyond a natural fissure. The first and leading figure is the largest measuring 105mm long; the head and neck are shown as a vertical element 60mm long projecting from the body at right angles, and a pair of protuberances at the top of its head are considered to represent horns or antlers. The second figure is smaller though similar to the first but lacks any indication of horns or antlers. The third figure at the right end of the group of three differs from the other two in the way the head and neck are represented, which in this case are depicted as an extension to the body beyond the fore limbs. The fourth solitary figure is similar to the third, especially in the treatment of its head, though in this case there is a suggestion of a protuberance to the head. It is considered that the scene shows a small herd of deer or goats led by a mature male and including at least two females.

A second panel (ERA 10) is situated on the top of the crag at about 160m OD immediately above the rock shelter containing the animal carvings. The panel measures about 2.35 m by 0.83m and there are at least two prehistoric cup marks present, one about 8cm to 10cm in diameter and the other slightly smaller.

Extent of scheduling: this is defined as a circle with a diameter of 5m in order to include the rock art panel bearing the animal depictions and the archaeologically sensitive surrounding area. The prehistoric panel comprising a pair of cups is incorporated within the area defined around the animal carvings. A second rock art panel lies further to the west and is the subject of a separate scheduling (Rock art at Goatscrag, 200m north west of Routin Lynn, National Heritage List entry 1418572).

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The later prehistoric, Romano-British or early medieval rock art at Goatscrag rock shelter is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: the four animal depictions comprising the scene are extremely well-defined to the extent that features such as horns or antlers are clearly visible and their relationship to one another is readable;
* Documentation: early medieval society is poorly documented and no such evidence is available for the prehistoric and Romano-British societies, hence the value of the archaeological remains of these periods to inform our understanding of their belief systems is particularly important;
* Diversity: four individual animals are depicted, which vary in size and detail and allow conclusions regarding their age and gender to be drawn;
* Potential: it will inform our knowledge of the societies that carved it, through individual study of the motifs and carving style, and through an increased understanding of their relationship to the rock shelter and to the wider landscape context.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Van Hoek, M A M, Smith, C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana, ser 5 vol xvi' in Rock Carvings at Goatscrag Rock Shelters Northumberland, (1988), 29-35
England's Rock Art, accessed from
Northumberland County Council HER ID: 1962,

Source: Historic England

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