25 July 2006

PRA at Hareshaw Linn?

We received an e-mail from Andrew Gardner (aj40 on RABL) about an unusual find near Bellingham. Since there's no reported other rock art in the area, he's wondering if this is a genuine cup-and-ring motif or just another spell of nature like the Casterigg spiral. Andrew wrote: "Hareshaw Linn is a fairly big waterfall (considerably larger than Roughting Linn) at the head of a densely wooded river valley about 2 miles walk from the centre of Bellingham. There are high sand stone cliffs on both sides of the fall. Under normal Northumberland weather conditions there's usually a large volume of water coming down the river and the pool below the fall where the path ends is deep and difficult to cross safely. Climbing on to the ledge where Steve found the rock would be very difficult when the river is full too. Thanks to the prolonged hot weather we're enjoying the river is very low at present and when we were there we could cross easily and scramble up onto the large sloping ledge opposite the end of the path. The marked rock was close under the base of the cliff at the back of the ledge. If anyone else wants to go and look for it they'd better get there before the weather breaks! I would guess that Hareshaw Linn would have had some significance for prehistoric people in the area given the association of some Northumberland rock art with prominent river features (Roughting Linn, the Jack Rock cliffs at Morwick) and the association of henges with rivers so perhaps we might expect to find rock art somewhere there. There's only the one path up the valley today but maybe in prehistoric times there were other paths through the woods and the ledge was more easily accessible. It's fun to speculate on what might have been! Thanks again, I look forward to hearing what everyone else thinks we might have found." So what do we think? Cheers, Jan Links to the original 'discovery'-photos received from Andrew: "Hey, I found something!" and "Look at this!"


rockrich said...

Jan, I’m guessing from the size of the bird turd on the stone & the few twigs about, that this things got a diameter of about 40-50cm??? The possible rings look to be equally spaced too (ok, I’ve measured them out of eternal sadness).

It looks fairly convincing from this image, but you never can say for sure, tricks of the light & lichen and all that.

I’m up in Durham on Friday recording with the project, if I get time I’ll fly up & take a look. Do you think you may be able to get a grid ref for it.

GraemeC said...

The location sounds an absolute classic. with a rock carving located in a difficult to reach part of an impressive natural feature.
Fingers crossed that its real deal!

Rockandy said...

It's hard to tell without seeing it up close but I wonder if its the result of lichen or moss growth which has discoloured the underlying rock. The photo seems to suggest other similar faint patterns on the surface. I feel a trip up there coming on and really hope it is rock art.

rockrich said...

andy, do you know which NDRAP team this patch belongs to? Unfortunately, my team map has gone AWOL.

wolfy said...

Hi Folks,

It would certainly help to know the size of the rock and markings..lets hope one of you guys can take a look.


rockrich said...

Just had a thought about this being possibly lichen, the stone looks to be in a dark & damp environment judging by the moss. Would this be conducive to lichen growth, as most lichens rely on photosynthesis?

Jan said...

Hi Folks,
I've invited Andrew to the Blog but the invitation didn't get through yet. So I relay his latest e-mail and put links to two photos of the initial discovery to give you an idea about size and location. Here's Andrew's mail which accompanied the photos:
I haven't received the invitation to join the team blog yet so I'm sending you these photos of the "moment of discovery" in the hope they'll help with the queries on the blog about the size of the pattern and perhaps help locate the rock too. I apologise for the poor quality but Hareshaw Linn is a very cool shady place and my Sony Cybershot was having difficulty coping with the low light at times!
We hadn't set out to look for rock art, we we're just out for a Saturday afternoon's walk. I was taking photos of the waterfall and Steve had wandered across the other side of the river and was exploring the ledge. He shouted to me that he'd found something and that he thought it might be prehistoric rock art. I took these two shaky photos of him examining the rock and pointing to it.
If I'd set out to look for new rock art I'd have been prepared and thought of taking a ruler or something to show the scale. As it was, his find took me so completely by surprise I just took my camera,left my rucksac (which had a compass in it, the ideal thing for showing scale and orientation ) by the path and made my way across the river to see for myself.
The grid reference for Hareshaw Linn is 842 854 but it's not hard to find if you go to Bellingham. It's a popular beauty spot with a well constructed path to it and a car park with room for at least 10 vehicles at the start. A swift Google will bring up web pages with downloadble walk guides, info on its SSSI status and its fascinating history (there was an iron foundry in the valley at one time!). Can't find much on its prehistory though!

Thanks Andrew, we hope to be able to welcome you as a blog-member soon.

aj40 said...


I'm starting to lean to the view that our discovery is actually lichen growth. I've found several references on the web to lichen forming concentric rings on rocks and some pictures of the phenomenon. None of the pictures I've found have been of patterns as large and as regular as this one so if it is a concentric ring forming lichen we've found it's a spectacular example.

I'm still hoping it will prove to be rock art. Here's hoping we can get a definitive answer soon

Rockandy said...


It's an interesting find, whatever the cause maybe. It's in a beautiful, atmospheric place which deserves to have some rock art. I was hoping to get up there this weekend but have holidays coming up and couldn't get the time off from family duties. I'll make some time later in the year if noone else gets up there meantime.

rockrich said...

I failed to get there on Friday, was recording on Scargill Moor until 4pm.

Will try again over the week or 3.