12 September 2006

Castlerigg - the spiral that vanished

(Click for a larger Yoghurt!)
I came across this article today. I don't want to post a link to the article here, but a google search using some words to the title should take you the pdf on the first author's web site. A very interesting read; it made my day (I don't get out much). They even quote an anonymous person called Hob from the Modern Antiquarian. Have a look at fig 4 (F). A small figure but in my worst moments I swear that I can see a spiral! Is it all in the mind (or yoghurt)? Andy Journal of Archaeological Science Volume 33, Issue 11 , November 2006, Pages 1580-1587 The article in pdf-format: The spiral that vanished: the application of non-contact recording techniques to an elusive rock art motif at Castlerigg stone circle in Cumbria


This article describes the recording of stone 11 of the Castlerigg stone circle in Cumbria through two different non-contact techniques: laser scanning and ground-based remote sensing. Despite the unproblematic recording of modern graffiti, neither technique was able to document the spiral photographed and rubbed in 1995. It is concluded that the spiral was most probably painted and has since faded away due to natural events. The discovery and loss of the spiral motif in Castlerigg is seen as a cautionary tale. In particular, it seems to suggest that it is time to take advantage of the novel technologies based on the digitisation of 3D surfaces with millimetre and submillimetre accuracy such as laser scanning and ground-based remote sensing. They offer many advantages to the recording of prehistoric carvings. In addition to avoiding direct contact with the rock surface eliminating the preservation concerns raised by other techniques, both produce high quality images (laser scanning offering a greater potential for this, but at higher cost) having a much higher level of objectivity, and precision and accuracy far beyond those of traditional recording methods such as wax rubbings and scale drawings.


GraemeC said...

Interesting article, but somehow i doubt this is the last word on the castlerigg spiral.

Like andy's "weak moment", i can see parts of something spiral like in some of the images. Maybe its just our eyes joining the dots?

Although it seems to me that the more high tech recording goes, it becomes harder to even see the surface details that show up on ordinary photographs!!!!

Jan said...

Hi Andy,
I took the liberty to edit your post a bit with a direct link to the article in pdf-format and posted a small Yoghurt to cheers us all up!
What me worries is the question how long it will take before the Yoghurt artists will set their mark on other monuments. Were they seen at Hareshaw Linn? Naaah.......!?

Hobson said...

Has anybody here ever tried yoghurt painting?

I've used it to encourage moss growth on briezeblock sculptures, and it sorta works, but lichen? I dunno.

I suspect yoghurt is the cause of this one: http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/31642

I'm not 100% convinced it's yoghurt that did the spiral at castlerigg. There is something on that photo Stan's got, but what is it?

PS: Andy, how was Durham tonight ?

Rockandy said...


Many thanks for tidying up my disreputable post and for the small and exquisitely-formed yoghurt!

Very nice post, Hob. Still leaves a lot unanswered though.


wolfy said...

Apart from Stan, has anyone else every rubbed the stone?

I for one as you all know did try my best to photograph the spiral, i came to the conclusion the spiral is not there, but what worries me slightly is, that i do know there are some circular type marks that i can see with my eyes and in some of my photographs. Not spirals, or even circles, but i can see grooved lines, why can't these be picked up by any scanner, or high tech gadget?..they are there.