27 March 2006

Topcon , photomodeler etc

Rich , any worthwhile results from using the progs. ?

25 March 2006

Spiral or Lichen?

Hi Folks, This is one of those 'way out there' things, but after being at Long Meg on tuesday night and noticing that although the stone has quite a bit of lichen on it, you can still see the carvings using light, even the faintest of scratches etc. I then thought back to Castlerigg when i tried to find the spiral using light, no matter what i did i could not see the spiral, my point being that if i can pick up the faintest carvings at Long Meg then surely i could see the spiral at Castlerigg no matter how faint it was. So my question is, the spiral at Castlerigg, is it a carving or is it lichen?, you may think this is a stupid thought, but when we are at Townhead in november we found something that i wish i had taken pictures and even collected a couple of samples. in an area near to some of the carvings there is a large mound, which has round stones as you might see in a burial cairn, but the strangest thing is that all those stone were covered in lichen, but the lichen grew in a certain way, forming perfect spirals, everytime. My next thought is that is it possible that the spiral at Castlerigg, is it a lichen formation, which indeed might be possible to do a rubbing of it, especially if it is proud of the rock surface. This is not what i think, just throwing thoughts around.. Brian, (Photo of rubbing by Stan Beckensall added by Jan. Click to enlarge!)

23 March 2006

Rock Art and the Shaman

following on from the chat about the Bahn lectures, i just noticed another relevant book is due for publication, Rock Art and the Shaman (Topics in Contemporary Archaeology Series), Thomas Dowson, Richard Bradley & Sue Alcock, editors. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 052153612X. Not yet published - advance orders taken. it will be interesting to see what they have to say on the subject. This was on the Oxbow books website, where they still have 'Rock Art of the Dreamtime' by Josephine Flood, for £6.95. this is a real bargain and full of information about rock art in general. http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/18809

19 March 2006

Photos vs rubbings

I know it's an old chestnut, but do rubbings always show more detail than photos? I've just seen Brian's new photo of Long Meg on tma, and on comparing it with Stan's drawing in British Prehistoric RA, I'm in two minds about what's going on in the lower left side. Does the photo show more than there is on the drawing? Brian, any chance of you bunging a higher res version up here for clarification? Also, how many candlepower are you up to now? ;)

18 March 2006

Bahn Lectures

Paul Bahn finishes a series of six Rhind lectures” Art on the Rocks” tomorrow at the National Museum of Scotland . I managed to get to three on the Saturday . All were hugely informative ,entertaining thought provoking and at times very funny . The one that would be of interest to most was “The Emperor’s New Clothes “.I won’t twitter too much so here’s wee synopsis. It appears that there is not that much opposition , other than Bahn himself , to the David Lewis Williams’ shamanic hypothesis but he pointed out that a majority of Neurophysiologists and Ice Age experts do not accept it and that in South Africa the experts on the ethnography of the tribes cited disagree entirely with him as does the “Stan” of South Africa, Bert Woodhouse . More importantly Tribesmen when asked their opinion on the carvings never mention shaman ,this applies to other continents as well as Africa.and oddly an area that provides some positive ethnography to the theory has no RA. . A great iconoclastic attack that might help redress the balance . The theory has replaced the old hunting and sympathetic magic type explanations and likes lots of archaeo mantras it makes for lazy thinking . Nobody is denying the importance or existence of shamanism to many cultures but we have no evidence for it being an explanation for RA here , and as Paul would have it anywhere else . For me the Lewis –Williams books were stimulating reads that will probably influence thinking in this area for a generation but like a lot of big archaeo ideas the cracks were visible a while ago and are getting bigger.

08 March 2006

Rock Art Treason??

Howdo folks, I know this has probably been discussed many a time on various forums, but what do you think of rocks with markings like this? Its listed as 82 in ‘Prehistoric Rock Art of County Durham, Swaledale & Wensleydale’, Stan & Tim elude to some element of natural erosion, but state that some cups appear to link grooves (or summat like that). Having been out RA hunting with a geologist, I’ve become a total sceptic (I was just sceptical before) about such cups, grooves & channels being manmade. I know you’ll quite often find definite carvings lower on such rocks, but just wondered about your thoughts on the channels etc. 6 members of the N&D Rock Art Proj had differing opinions as you might imagine.

04 March 2006

Millstone Burn's Little Gem

A couple of pictures of Millstone Burn's little gem, Beckensall 3a, which gladdened our hearts yesterday out recording on a very cold and windy day. Just below 3a, further down the ridge to the east near more rock art, we sat for lunch on the (more) sheltered bank of a large circular depression and discussed its origins. Clearly not a natural feature the raised bank surrounds the hollow with an 'entrance' on the south side. Against it being remains of a house are the depth of the hollow which carries both reeds and standing water and its exposed situation. Who would want to live up there in an artificial pond. Just to the north on the other side of the boundary fence there is a similar feature in the heather, although nothing is recorded in Keys to the Past. My best guess for this feature is a bell pit although it is not clear what was being mined and when? Similarly described bell pits are common on Alnwick Moor and at Callaly, presumably for coal extraction. Any ideas folks?