The Beckensall Archive lists Blackbog as a ‘failed to relocate’. So it wasn’t really lost, just slightly mislaid for a couple of decades. But I feel chuffed to have ‘found’ it. Having now pinned the mossy wee blighter down, I think the failure to relocate probably came about as the result of an iffy grid ref. In PRAiN, Stan says it’s NU177162, and the Archive consequently lists it as 417700 616200. This would have put it on the north side of Blackbog Burn, but Stan’s text says it’s on the south side, which it is. Garmin e-trex said it was at NU1764016073, 98m altitude, 8m accuracy. But if you round that up to six figures, it gives NU176161, and that would be on the north side of the burn too. Awkward eh?
Anyway, in Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings, Beckensall says ‘The site is very unusual at the side of a stream, and does not command the usual extensive views’, this is closely tied in with his Zen-like statement in PRAiN, when he adds as a caption on the photograph on p.119, “This flat boulder is either in it’s natural position, or has been brought there”. Which seems like an odd thing to say at first glance, as it begs the question, what would be the other options? But now I’ve seen it, I know what he means. I found it’s setting to be such that it’s impossible to make my mind up one way or the other.I’d agree that it seems to be in an incongruous setting, but noticed that when approached from the east, you can see above the treeline and there’s a superb view over to Cheviot, framed by the two nearest hills. This argues to it being in situ. However, when you’re at the boulder itself, there’s a profusion of field clearance stones, all of which are either small cobbles, or medium sized bits about the right size for a Northumbrian kerb cairn. So there’s the possibility that the marked stone came from a now defunct cairn.Adding to the issue is the fact that the stones seems to lie smack bang on a prehistoric trackway, a fact that’s been overlooked due to the whopping great wall that cuts it in twain (it’s the wall of Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland’s land). But if you trace the field boundaries from Blackbog, they end up at a standing stone, via a couple of ‘sacred’ wells and couple of cists, also passing beneath the site of a couple of Bronze age cremation cemeteries. This could be take as support for both the idea that the carved stone is in situ, and the idea that it may have come from a cairn. I just couldn’t make my mind up completely, but just as I’m leaning more towards it being in situ, as I reckon the chances of it being dumped as field clearance and landing face up are slim, I noticed a couple of groves on one edge that could easily have been made by a chain dragging it across a field.
Bah! It’s probably neither in situ nor part of a cairn. I suppose it’s just as possible that it was once earthfast out in the open further up the hill. I just wish the trees weren’t there so it could enjoy the lovely view over the cheviots via Hunterheugh.