22 May 2006

Wigtown Mini RAM06

Hi Folks, Just to let you all know that Suzanne and myself had a really nice weekend in Wigtown catching up with Jan & Gus. We had a few drinks, had a few laughs, and even managed to see some good quality rock art!!. We spent the saturday at Blairbuy farm , locating 2 or 3 good panels. On the sunday we visited my new find at Boyach farm, then went to the nearby site of Drummoral. I thought i would post a couple of pics of the day on saturday at Blairbuy. The top picture showing Jan, Gus and myself in a big gorse bush...the second picture showing Jan and myself after we have found our target, a nice cup and ring carving. The rest of the pics will be posted in due course.. Brian & Suzanne

Rock Gods at Morwick?

Yesterday i was looking at andy's photos of the Morwick crags carvings on TMA and also noticed the shot showing the whole crag/outcrop.With the eye of faith its possible to see a 'rock-face' (eyes, nose, mouth etc) in the upper middle section of the crags (there may be others?). This is likely to be a trick of the light and shadows, but it reminded me of an interesting site in Finland which is worth a look. http://www.internetix.fi/tutkimus/muinaistaide/kalliojumala/e-kalliojumala/index.htm

18 May 2006

Morwick 1880s blog

I found so much of interest in these old Proceedings to support my current research at Morwick that I post them in their entirety. Apologies given in advance at the length I can always edit it down latter. Morwick Mill from: Anniversary Address by Dr. Charles Douglas. History of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club Vol 8: 212-214 (1881) A move was now made onwards to Morwick Mill, where the party joined some of the members, who had gone there by a more direct route to inspect the incised figures on rocks overhanging the Coquet, a short way below the mill, which had recently been discovered by Mr Middleton Dand. These are different from any of those so well and elaborately described by our late Secretary, Mr Tate, and others, as occurring on rocks at Old Bewick, Doddington, Routing Linn. and other places in Northumberland. Those already recorded occur generally on the surface of sandstone rocks, cropping up on hills or other high ground; these are on the face of a sandstone cliff rising perpendicularly from the bed of the Coquet, a very short way above the level of the sea. The most typical of the former are composed of concentric circles with a radial groove passing from the centre to the circumference, or beyond it. In these now under observation, about six in number, there is no radial groove, but the figure in the most distinct is of a spiral form somewhat resembling those figured by Mr Tate in his paper, published in our Transactions for 1864, from sketches by Capt. Carr, R.E, as occurring on rock temples at Malta; with this remarkable difference, however, that the latter were in relief, those on the Coquet, like all others in Northumberland, incised. The first inscription seen by Mr Dand from a boat on the river is of a different character from any of the others, the outer circle being composed of a number of dots or pits, at perhaps two inches distance from each other, in this, somewhat resembling an inscription discovered by Mr Tate, at Jedburgh, but not in situ, and shown in Plate XI., Fig, 6 of the illustrations to his paper, above alluded to. The entire diameter appeared from the boat, from which the inspection was made by small detachments of our party at a time, to be about a foot, and was apparently the largest observed; it faced the river; others were on a different aspect of the rock, facing nearly at right angles to the one first observed. One of our members noticed that two of the spiral figures, close to each other, were in fact continuous, the line being carried from one to the other. The inscriptions are from about ten to fifteen feet above the present level of the river, but at the remote period at which they were doubtless executed the channel of the river would be at a much higher elevation. It is to be hoped that a minute and accurate account of these inscriptions with engravings, may be supplied for our Proceedings, by some member having the means of closer observation than we had. Some of the more adventurous of our party got a nearer view than those in the boat, by scrambling along the face of the rock, not without danger to all concerned; one energetic member displaced with his feet a block of sandstone rock, which fell with a mighty splash into the river, the boat at the time fortunately being some yards off. These rocks were covered with impressions of Lepidodendrons. The company now proceeded up the river, crossing in boats, kindly provided by Mr Dand and Mr Tate, and had a delightful walk up the banks, which were beautifully wooded and rich with blossoms, among the gayest of which were the Lychnis dioica and Geranium sylvaticum in great profusion. from: On the Incised Rocks at Morwick By James Hardy. With Notices and Illustrations by Miss Sarah Dand. Plates III,., IV., V., V*. History of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club Vol 10: 343-347 (1883) This paper on the remarkable group of incised inscriptions on the face of a precipitous sandstone rock overhanging the Coquet behind the village of Morwick, and at a short distance from Morwick Hall, is drawn up from the observations of the Club made during their visit in 1877; from the notes of Miss Sarah Dand accompanying the faithful sketches, with which, with great painstaking, she has favoured the Club; and from the recollections of a very brief visit which I paid to the spot, July 4th, 1883, in company with Mr Middleton Dand, Mr John Dand, Mr Wm. T. Hindmarsh, and Capt. McCabe. The record of the visit of the Club on the 27th June, 1877, in the address of the President, Dr. Charles Douglas, is so accurate and ample, that it is superfluous to relate afresh the circumstances of the discovery of the figures, or their special attributes. I shall therefore incorporate the greater part of it. It is owing to the Club’s resolution on that occasion, that an "account of these inscriptions with engravings," should be supplied for the Proceedings, that with Miss Dand’s assistance the subject is now resumed. [Here follows a large part of the previous publication followed by:] The distance of the incised rock from the village of Warkworth including the windings of the river is 23/4 miles; and there is little more than a mile farther to the present mouth of the river. At first I imagined that a party of wanderers sheltering here at no great distance from the open sea, might have formed these tracings during their involuntary detention; but having subsequently learned that there are remnants of a British camp on the space behind the perpendicular cliff, it is rather I think to the agency of its resident occupants that these improved exercises in stone-cutting may be attributed. "There is very little trace," Miss Dand writes, "of any camp left. A formed path three yards wide from and to the camp slopes from west to east to the level of the river, leaving a steep bank to the south, and a deeper bank from the height of the path to the river. To the north this is the only feature of manual formation, and is immediately to the east of the incised rock. An extensive view," she continues, "can be had to the north and west, but owing to the rising ground, only a short way can be seen to the south and east. Two small ravines on the west and east favour the idea that it might have been made a strong position. It has been suggested that here was the site of Hugh de Morwick’s castle (the Norman possessor of the land), but this is a mere conjecture, for I do not know of any tradition bearing this out. Were this the fact it might account for the disappearance of the outlines of the Camp. There are several mounds running from north to south on the north side of the river on Warkworth Moor. They may be merely owing to tracks worn at different ages to ‘Pomfret’s ford,’ – now corrupted into ‘Paupers’ ford – a few yards to the east; but they are not unlike barrows." This suggestion must be left for future inquiry. Miss Dand next proceeds to describe the figures in Plates III., IV. and V. The plates are exact reproductions of her pen and ink drawings. [Hob’s post on TMA: but no record of which figure is which http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/44191] "The figures are scattered over the face of a perpendicular grey sandstone rock on the south bank of the Coquet. Excepting in figures 1, 2, and 3 there seems no attempt at combination. Figure 1 is the highest. Calling the rock about 30 feet high, the spirals will be about 20 feet from the ordinary level of the river. Figure 2 is on part of the rock facing east and is about 7 feet from the ground. The spirals here like those in figure 1 are of a uniform size and depth, about 3 inches in diameter and cut into the rock about the 8th of an inch. In figure 4 the spiral is larger being quite 5 inches in diameter, and curls the opposite way to its smaller representatives. I find figure 5 has long been known in the village as ‘The Lion.’ It is much the largest; is about 1 foot from the ground in a part of the rock that is very coarse and gritty, and appears much affected by the weather. The cups round the horse-shoe in figure 6 are very much deeper than the lines, being cut into the rock about an inch. This figure is about 12 feet above the river. Figure 3 is much overgrown with lichens, and is very indistinct." I visited the scene under the disadvantage of a heavy thunder plump; and the troubled and discoloured river was in flood, sweeping down rafts of wood and branches. This necessitated a cautious guidance of the boat, which had to be steadied and held secure by a chain from the shore. The rock is a single cliff below the high bank, supposed to have been once crowned with a British Camp. It was ornamented with ferns from its numerous water runnels. It was surmised that the figures might at one time have been more numerous. The rock is crumbly, and detached masses of it have fallen; and the inscriptions now remaining are preserved on the more indurated projections. The northern bank of the river is grassy and without trees. The wooded scene above this free space, where the mill-race and the main stream of the Coquet meet at the apex of an islet clad with tall umbrageous trees, is exceedingly fine. To discuss the particular object and meaning of these rock-writings is beyond the scope of this paper. Among them are examples of the first spirals as yet observed among the Northumbrian rocks. next to the Berwickshire Club, the Antiquarian Society of Scotland have in their "Proceedings" figured examples of cups, circles, and other rock markings; but among them I have failed to find spirals exactly according with those represented in the accompanying plates. On the stone, however, engraved in Plate V., the similarity of the incised figures to those at Morwick, is too obvious to be disregarded. It is derived from a plate at p.106 of Mr. Robert Bruce Armstrong’s elaborate and careful "History of Liddesdale, Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchopedale and the Debateable Land," Part 1, Edinburgh, David Douglas, 1883, 4to; which the liberality of the publisher has placed at the disposal of the Club. The stone, evidently only a fragment of a larger block once containing more figures, forms the door-sill of the vault of the Hollows Tower on the river Esk, the residence of "Johnie Armstrong," (Gilnockie), of tragic fame, and supposed to have been erected by that Border reiver in the early part of the sixteenth century. Whence it was at first procured is not stated, but there might still be tangible evidence remaining in the neighbourhood if earnestly sought out [http://rockartuk.fotopic.net/c865746.html]. A representation of the double spiral, like that on the stone of Hollows, resembling the volutes on an Ionic column, is of ready access in the catalogue of the Museum of the S.A.S. p.115, from a sculptured stone found in a "Pict’s House" in Eday, Orkney. [http://rockartuk.fotopic.net/c911426.html] A very remarkable association of the double pagan volute with a Christian cross may be seen in a figure in the Scottish Society of Antiquaries’ volume for 1880-81, page 121, in a contribution by Mr William Stevenson on the Antiquities of the Islands of Colonsay and Oransay. A barbarous figure with a human head and a fish’s tail, has the arms converted into involute spirals on the transverse beam of the cross. The survival of the original central cup and concentric circles of the older Northumbrian sculptures, is sufficiently pronounced in the Morwick group; but art had advanced since a more primitive age, and was forming new combinations apparently more ornamental than significant, both in what was added and what was retrenched. This modification is also exemplified in some figures on the sculpted rock at Cuddy’s Cove, near Doddington, which have other more modern accompaniments. On one of them the pagan circles and cup are displayed in the centre of a small cross; shewing a pagan and Christian emblem combined, it may have been contemporaneously. We find there also the horse-shoe arch. [http://rockartuk.fotopic.net/c894075.html]

15 May 2006

RAM 06 & Paraphernalia

I’ve just uncovered a slight floor in my plan to show you some PhotoG at this years RAM, that being, my complete lack of a laptop. I could bring my Commodore64 along, but somehow I doubt it’ll render quickly enough :-) Were any of you folks thinking of bringing a laptop, if not, no worries, I’ve got plenty of time to source one. Cheers

13 May 2006

Fieldtrip 2006

Hi Folks, Next week Tuesday we leave for Newcastle to start our 8th fieldtrip to England and Scotland. We leave this blog, as we did for so long now, in your good hands and hope for even more interesting contributions. To keep the layout of the blog tidy, please choose as layout "center" (radio-button) when uploading a photo. This will keep your text under the pic instead of on the right with 2 or 3 words per line. For the 'size' of the photo; 'medium' is fine. Check 'Use this layout every time?' and you've not to worry again. Thanks! The trip is planned as follows. May 17-22: Dumfries and Galloway (Wigtown), 22-24: Stirling (Aberfoyle/Menteith), 24-29: Perth and Kinross (Aberfeldy), 29-31: Scottish Borders (Peebles), June 1-5: Northumberland (Wooler), 5-6: Rothbury and back to the lowlands. Looking forward to see you on the RAM'06 in Wooler on Sunday, 4th of June! We have about 30 RA sites on our list and hope for some new ones of course. Happy trails, folks! Gus & Jan

Spiralling out of control

Just a brief report of a new rock art panel found by N&DRAP (Team 2) Special Boat Unit at Morwick Crags. The vertical rock face lies directly between Stan's 1 and 2 series on a vertical part of the cliff that overhangs the river, facing due north. On the east side of this panel round the corner (left hand side on the photos), panel 1f is about 3m high above the path that ducks under this overhang and carries a nice array of horned and linked spirals. The new panel probably continues this theme although the motifs are hard to see as they are completely covered in a uniform yellowish lichen similar to congealed custard. There are hints that multiple similar motifs lie on this new panel. We await better light for a closer look. Our early analysis is that all the carvings on Morwick Cliff may have been made from a path running along the crag line and would not have required any climbing or ladders although this path has now been severely eroded by the river leaving a few of the panels more than 3m above ground level. Just to pick up on some of the other thought provoking posts on this blog, the river was heaving with fish and the echo from the north bank is one of the best I've heard (the best I've heard)!

09 May 2006

You never know what you have on your land!!!

Hi Folks, As part of my on going research i have been getting to know some of the farmers, which can help...(see Boyach)..I got talking to Mr Wullie Gemmel from West Crosherie farm near Kirkcowan in Wigtownshire. He told me that he had stone panels with carvings built into the wall of one of his farm buildings..he told me there were circular marks, with some straight grooves. He did not know what they were, but asked if i wanted to look at them. This i did as part of my travels on saturday. When i got to the farm, you could not fail to notice the cups and rings, possible spiral in the centre of the four cup and rings, but also a strange crossover carvings,which looked pictish. I knew from doing research at the site that canmore had recorded, and i quote..."a crossed slab", that is all that is detailed for this panel...how lazy!!..anyway when i realised this is what i was looking at it made sense. What we have is the main section of a christian cross built into the wall. I'll post a couple of pics for you to look at. Its interesting to see how even though we have the change in carving designs, that at this point in history the cup and ring motif must still have had some meaning behind it, being on a cross, does this mean the religous idea behind cup and ring markings is still the main theory.?.. The strange thing is that it is an important item for this area, but i find it amazing that the person who logged the find 10 years ago did not tell the farmer what he had on his land or that when logging his find he failed to record the details properly.

A stone in a wall

Hi Folks, On my travels on saturday i stopped off at Torhouskie stone circle, stopped in the little car park, as i was getting out of the car to stretch my legs i noticed a stone, in the wall...with what looked and felt like a cup!! take a look..

08 May 2006

Another Cracky for that Chappell chappie

Mr C, Heres another fissure for you to ponder, this time on the Eastwoods Rough Carving (now named ‘The Morphing Stone’). On the last visit we uncovered the vast majority of the stone, mainly thanks to Fitz’s rather sharp knife. One of the features that came to light was a crack on its eastern edge that went in towards the centre of the stone, interestingly, it lined up exact with the enclosing groove. So, on this particular carving, you’ve got a natural bowl with a cup countersunk into it & a groove continuing the direction of a fissure….. Believe it or not, a salmon had also found its way into the blue bucket ;-)

07 May 2006

NEW rock art site in Galloway!!!

Hi Folks, I thought i would let you all know that yesterday i was able to confirm a NEW rock art site in Galloway to add to the list of sites. It is an area near the Isle of Whithorn, at Boyach Farm. As we all know the rock carvings in the Whithorn area are very well known, so it is very pleasing to be able to report on this new site. I am at present working on a report for Discovery & Excavation Scotland, but thought you would like to hear about my progress so far. Hopefully the pics will be added to BRAC very soon, but i will add a picture here so you can see the carvings. The area itself sits above the Isle of Whithorn with excellent views, the area is covered in gorse bushes, so i believe that this location could provide further carvings, we shall wait and see on that matter. But enjoy the picture. Brian

02 May 2006

I was just looking at Brian's pic of Bombie and wondered how a drawing would capture the "flow" of that stone . It would have to be exceptional .