|13 January 2003
Cattle make way for ancient rock carvings
Cattle have trampled for the last time on one of the finest prehistoric "art galleries" in Britain, thanks to a stewardship deal organised by the local farmer. Duncan Ord, whose dairy herd roams hilly country on the edge of Alnwick in Northumberland (United Kingodm), was astonished when the winter shelter used by his cattle turned out to house an exceptionally rare collection of rock carvings. Nosed out by the animals as a refuge, the gash in Ketley Crag was used for the same reason by unknown Northumbrians 4,000 years ago. The natural half-cave is one of only a handful of prehistoric rock shelters which have escaped destruction by erosion or quarrying.
"These are superb examples of rock art - I would say some of the best in the world," said Stan Beckensall, the leading expert on the mysterious cups, rings and delicate lines traced on Northumberland's crags. "The Ketley Crag rock shelter has an extraordinary decorated floor. Northumberland is the only part of Britain where this occurs, so it is particularly significant."
The extent of the carvings at Ketley, and on a scattering of smaller sites on Mr Ord's Chatton Park farm, has been catalogued for the first time by Mr Beckensall, whose discoveries alerted the farmer. "Chatton Park is a marginal farm and our cows were traditionally wintered on the hill because it offered a sheltered spot," Mr Ord said. "But when Stan told me how important these markings on the rocks were I was happy to change our husbandry practices." Through a stewardship agreement with the Depart ment for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr Ord will be compensated for moving the cattle to a different part of the farm and protecting the rock art site from grazing by his flock of sheep. Funds will also help to pay for an access trail for the public.
Source: The Guardian (11 December 2002 http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
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