Spring seemed to have sprung today so I set off ‘stravaiging’ –
figuring I would head for one of the ’empty spaces’ on the map – Old
Lyham Crags and Bowden Doors – using the logic that these are great
sandstone scarps with stunning views across the Milfield Plain – so why
are there no recorded cup and ring marks for these areas in Stan’s
definitive guide? This sandstone scarp is a beautiful place to visit –
strongly recommend anyone going there. I found that, as usual, a lot of
small scale quarrying had been done over the centuries; there were some
millstone ‘blanks’ on the crags as well. I also got the strong
impression that there has been massive wind, rain and ice erosion over
the centuries – it is very high and very exposed – so maybe any motifs
were just eroded?
Possible New Finds ?
I did find something that looks like a cup and ring. It is about 6 inches in
diameter and was right on the crag edge – but on a section where
quarrying had not taken place. It looks like one of those cases where a
natural basin has been adapted – as at Old Bewick – but I’m not sure
about it. Can’t see how the raised cup can have formed naturally?
On another part of Old Lyham Crags I found a row of what looked like
eroded cup markings. They are conical, shallow and soft edged – so I’m
pretty certain they are not anything to do with 19th C quarrying – they
don’t look like metal tools have made them and were on a stone
pavement that showed no sign of quarrying.
I realized that the front edge of the scarp was so badly eroded that it was unlikely anything would have survived here – so I looked on the
back slope. Nothing specific – but I found large piles of very large
‘grooved boulders’ (like miniature Duddo stones – which looked like
they may have originated from the scarp edge at some time. There seems
to be an association between the ‘brain coral’ kind of water erosion
that you see on the crag edges at places like Cuddy’s Cave, Goat Crags
and Dod Law – and rock art. These boulders are definitely
natural-eroded scarp-edge material – which raises the question why they
have been dumped on the back slope? Wonder if any of you have surveyed
Old Lynham or Bowden Doors. It feels like there ‘should’ be rock art
here – but there isn’t any recorded?
I decided to give Bowden Doors a miss then went across to Chatton Park
Hill – which was superb – but the light was not good for photography.
Found the large enclosure and got some pics of Chatton 4. Then – as it
was gone 4.30pm I decided to make a last push for Ketley Crags – even
though the light was poor by now. It took me ten minutes to find it –
and it was largely Stan’s emphasis on badgers that drew me to the
correct rock – big badger excavations all around. To say I was ‘blown
away; by Kettley would be an understatement – Stan Beckensall’s comment
that ‘this is one of the greatest rock art sites in the whole world’ is
not an exaggeration. This is truly, truly amazing. Then to cap it all
the sun dropped below the thick bank of cloud that had hidden it for
the last two hours – and I got the most superb sidelighting for my
first visit to Ketley. Here are a couple of shots.
I did hurry off to try and find Chatton 5 & 6 – did find the latter
but light was fading fast. All in all a wonderful first visit.