|15 January 2005
Ancient rock carvings go online
Archaeologists have discovered more than 250 new examples of prehistoric rock carvings, it has been revealed. The panels were unearthed during a two-and-a-half year search of the moorlands of Northumberland (England) by Newcastle University archaeologists. They will feature on a new website featuring 6,000 images, which is thought to be the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.
The carvings are thought to have been made between 3,500 and 6,000 years ago. Among the new discoveries is a collection at Goatstones, near Wark, where 14 carved stones were recorded for the first time. Others to feature on the website will be the country's largest collection of rock art in one place, at Roughting Linn.
The project was inspired by Northumberland rock art specialist Dr Stan Beckensall, who donated his archive of books, photographs, drawings and rubbings to Newcastle University. Funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board meant Dr Beckensall and university archaeologist Dr Aron Mazel could move the project on.
Dr Mazel said: "Our team has spent the last few years on a prehistoric 'adventure' and now we're at the stage where we can share our finds with others." Experts are still working on the origins and meaning of the abstract carvings, which are believed to be the work of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people, although there are several theories. Dr Beckensall said: "One of the key aims was to promote widespread enjoyment of this fascinating part of our history and the web was the obvious medium to reach out to the 21st century historian, amateur and professional alike."
Features of the new website, which can be viewed at http://rockart.ncl.ac.uk include a browse facility where users can view all panels or browse by parish, map, panel type, location, access (including suitability for wheelchairs), image type, and art motifs; an extensive bibliography of Northumberland rock art for academic and specialist users; an 'interactive zone', mainly aimed at younger and non-specialist users. Features include video and audio clips, games with a rock art theme, photo galleries presenting some of the project's finest images of Northumberland rock art.
Sources: BBC News, EurekAlert! This is North East (14 January 2005), The Independent, Yorkshire Post Today (15 January 2005)
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