Ancient Monuments

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Rock art at Ketley Crag rock shelter

A Scheduled Monument in Chatton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5618 / 55°33'42"N

Longitude: -1.8832 / 1°52'59"W

OS Eastings: 407464.61

OS Northings: 629799.4

OS Grid: NU074297

Mapcode National: GBR H494.22

Mapcode Global: WHC0Q.1GJL

Entry Name: Rock art at Ketley Crag rock shelter

Scheduled Date: 6 March 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1417677

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Chatton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Chatton with Chillingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


Prehistoric rock art comprising a single large panel of Neolithic/early Bronze Age date (approximately 3800 BC to 1500 BC).

Source: Historic England


Principal elements: rock art comprising a single large panel of Neolithic/early Bronze Age date (approximately 3800 BC to 1500 BC).

Description: this rock art panel (ERA 97) forms the base of a small, shallow overhang, situated about two-thirds of the way down a north west facing, steep, slope of the Fell Sandstone Group. The site provides an extensive viewpoint of the surrounding landscape including west to the Cheviot Hills. The floor of the overhang is 2.5m long and 1.60m at its widest. A long groove running across the panel from the front to the back of the overhang serves to divide it into two parts.

To the right of the main division motifs include a wide groove displaying prominent pick marks, and a deep, unattached groove, flanked by a cup and short groove with a slightly elongated ring. Two sets of three penannulars lie to the right, one above the other, with their cups linked by a deep groove. Between them and the central groove are fainter motifs including a cup and arc and an oval groove surrounding two small cups. Above, and joined to the deep, linear groove by its outer ring is a cup at the centre of two penannulars. At the very limit of the shelter wall is a cup and angular groove. To the right of this string of motifs is a similar parallel arrangement beginning with a cup at the centre of two rings linked by a groove from the cup to a lower cup at the centre of three broken rings; A groove from the inner ring of the lower figure almost meets the outer ring of motifs consisting of two penannulars around a large central cup, the groove from which reaches the north end of the rock. The depth of the cups is enhanced in many cases by being counter-sunk in natural hollows. The motifs on the right hand side, apart from some faint arcs and a cup, ends on the almost vertical thin edge to the west, where there is a ring and two concentric arcs.

To the left of the central division a long groove begins with a cup, passes a faint cup and arc on its left and a cup, to the centre of the deepest and clearest motif: a cup at the centre of a ring and three concentric penannulars. The groove continues to the rock edge diametrically, and another groove runs from the same cup radially. At the lowest part of the rock, which comes to a point, this small triangle is the focus of an elaborate treatment where packed motifs flow into one; the outer penannular of the largest figure runs in to the outer deep oval surrounding a cup and groove. Between it and the central division is a faint cup and diametric groove at the centre of two ovoids. 
Below it is a cup and another two ovoids around a cup and short groove. To the east of the long dividing groove are four large motifs of three and two well-spaced rings united by the grooves from the central cups as they flow down the rock. One other cup completes the motifs on this triangle. 
The most easterly group of motifs is a more complicated pattern of cups, arcs, rings and inter linked grooves.

Extent of scheduling: this is defined as a circle with a diameter of 10m in order to include the rock art panel and the archaeologically sensitive surrounding area.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The prehistoric rock art at Ketley Crag rock shelter is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: despite susceptibility to natural weathering, this rock art panel is reasonably well preserved with pick marks and the original quality and fluid style of the carving readily apparent;
* Documentation: ritual and religious sites of Prehistoric Britain are without contemporary documentation and hence the value of the archaeological remains as our only evidence of their belief systems is enhanced;
* Diversity: this panel displays a complex arrangement of a wide variety of motifs which stands out for the fluidity and interconnectedness of its carving;
* Potential: it will inform our knowledge of prehistoric society through individual study of its motifs and carving style, and through an increased understanding of the circumstances in which rock art was created and used. Its unusual location as the base of a small shelter is particularly rare and enhances its importance;
* Group value: taken with other extensive areas of rock art on near by Chatton Park Hill it will enhance both our understanding of the inter-relationships between the individual panels, and their relationship to the wider landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 1, (1991), 51;56
Mazel, et al (eds), Art as Metaphor: The Prehistoric Rock-Art of Britain, (2007)
, accessed from
Northumberland HER ID:3434,

Source: Historic England

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