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10 July 2011
Northumberland rock art mobile project

Researchers at Newcastle University have developed a web site designed to help people discover the rich variety of prehistoric rock art in Northumberland (England).
     Archaeologists have worked side-by-side with digital media experts to share information about the famous carved stones, which can be tricky to locate even with a GPS. "Some of the stones are quite weathered and it's not obvious unless you know where to look. You could be standing right next to it and not see it," said rock art expert and project leader Dr Aron Mazel.
     The new website features clear and simple navigation to enable anyone to find the rock art panels. Annotated drawings, recorded commentary and photographs can also be downloaded to a mobile phone to enable visitors to see the patterns more easily.
     The carvings are thought to have been made by Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people between 3,500 and 6,000 years ago, but the meaning of the symbols remains unknown. "If you look at rock art in many other parts of the world you can identify animals and humans and obtain a sense of what was going on," Dr Mazel said. "But this is entirely geometric. It's been here for about 6,000 years and we're still no nearer to working out exactly what it's all about. That's what's so exciting."
     The project breathes new life into Stan Beckensall's extensive archive, which was digitised by Newcastle University as part of the Northumberland Rock Art Project six years ago.

Edited from Culture24 (6 July 2011)

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