Just for the record (and before I forget!) here’s my mini review of the RAM.
June the 5th saw a dozen hardy folk (and George the dog) gathered at the Lordenshaw car park. The weather did not look promising with overcast skies, but undeterred we set off to view the rock carvings at Lordenshaws. Our route took us to the large, heavily carved outcrop on the ridge just west of the hillfort. The view from this area was dominated by the Simonside Hills and it suggested (to me at least) that the carved rocks in this area may have had some connection with this range of hills. The lack of good light made it difficult to appreciate the carvings fully, but it was still possible to pick out most of the fainter motifs and it was noted that some carvings had been quarried away in the past.
Spots of light rain prompted us to move on and so we headed eastward through the ‘hillfort’ earthworks to the opposite side of the ridge. Here the character of the carved rocks appeared different with large sloping sheets of bed rock protruding through the vegetation and some of these had been selected for carving. Although large surfaces were available, only relatively small numbers of cup marks and basins appear to have been carved, some connected to long channels running down the rock sheets. So much rock lay just under the soil it was easy to wonder what may come to light in the future. Further north along the ridge we noted another group of carved rocks and nearby an open cist with its large capstone.
Again, on later reflection i did wonder if the focus of this group of ‘east facing’ carvings may have been the prominent outcrop of Garleigh hill, whose craggy side was conspicuous across the moor to the east. The location of numerous carved rocks and other features around the ‘hillfort’ and its position in the landscape, does raise the question (again) of what these enclosures were actually for?
We were getting quite soggy by this time so we headed back to the car park, stopping to look at a group of tri-radial cairns on route. Due to the wet weather it was decided to break for something to eat and then head for the Poachers Rest cafe for a chat over coffee. This gave us the opportunity to discuss the future of our informal rock art group after the passing of its founder and our good friend – Jan Brouwer. It was good to see that all those present were keen to see the group continue, along with the annual RAMs.
Warmer and drier, we then went to the visitors centre at Ingram, which has a large cup and ring marked boulder by the entrance. It was late afternoon by this time and some of the group decided to head homeward, while those left took in a final visit to Millstone Burn. Here again we found the hill slopes leading up to a ridge had been selected for the location of numerous cup and ring markings on outcrops and bedrock. Some of the carvings were quite complex with multiple rings and grooves and yet it was hard to see what would draw people here to carve so many rocks? The location of another group of complex carvings on Snook Bank on the opposite side of the Millstone Burn might suggest that the burn or its head-waters may have been the focus.
By this time it was early evening and so the 2011 RAM drew to a close. As Brian has already noted it was a ‘different’ RAM without Jan, but plans have been made to keep the group going, which in itself is a tribute to him. During the day i was reminded of one of Jan’s phrases as a light rain began to fall, making the carvings stand out a little more – ” time to wet it up?”
……..Perhaps he was not so far away after all.