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31 March 2011
Welsh Rock Art - a unique find in Anglesey

New excavations have recently been carried out by the Welsh Rock Art Association, on a piece of megalithic rock art, known locally as the 'Llwydiarth Esgob Farm Stone'. The farm in question is located on the Isle of Anglesey, off the north coast of Wales. It is believed to have been moved to its current location at the beginning of the 20th Century, by the renowned antiquary Thomas Pritchard.
     Whilst Wales is considered less important - in terms of rock art regions - compared to the rest of Europe, this piece has significant and unique decoration. The stone is made from a distinctive localised hornblende picrite and, from the way the designs extend to the bottom edge means that this is a fragment of a much larger stone.
     The farm is set in an area with several standing stones and a possible Neolithic chambered tomb, all of which are on a Northwest Southeast alignment, including the chambered tomb. Several Neolithic axes and axe hammers have also been found in the area, originating from as far afield as Cumbria in Northern England, as well as local and near-local origin. All this evidence leads the team to believe that this is an Early Bronze Age site of some significance.
     The artwork takes the form of three concentric circles, cup-and-ring, cupules and intersecting grooves. Differing techniques were used to record the markings, using several tracings and photography (using artificial light sources at different angles). A final image was produced using computer graphics. Analysis of the concentric circles and the depth & width of the grooves lead the team to believe that two, not one, artist had produced the circles, using different tools and at different times.
     At the conclusion of their investigations, the team was left with several unanswered questions: principally, what designs does the missing section have and what was the orientation of the fragment that they have. The final unanswered question is, what was its function? The experts can only speculate that it may have formed part of the entrance to the nearby chambered tomb. One thing that is certain is that, although resembling other patterns found on both sides of the Irish Sea, the design sequence on the Lywdiarth Esgob stone is totally unique.

Edited from Past Horizons (21 March 2011)

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