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17 May 2015
Schoolboy spots bird carved on ancient stone

The phrases 'hidden in plain sight' and 'cannot see the wood for the trees' have been applied to many situations over time but never, it is thought, with respect to Neolithic stones before.
     The Calderstones are thought to be the oldest monument in Liverpool and can be found in the Harthill Greenhouse at Calderstones Park in Allerton, Liverpool (England). The stones, originally situated at the junction of Druids Cross Lane and Menlove Avenue are said to be remnants of a burial chamber used for a local Neolithic community approximately 5,000 years ago.
     A school party from Calderstones School in Liverpool were on a field trip to view the six ancient Calderstones, after which their school was named. A budding archaeologist, 13 year old Connor Hannaway, was taking some note when he dropped his pencil. As he picked it up he spotted the outline of what he thought was a bird, engraved into the stone. Connor mentioned this to their guide for the day, Richard MacDonald, Heritage Stories Maker at The Reader Organisation, but his question was dismissed out of hand. But Connor persisted in  his questioning and eventually Richard MacDonald had to admit that he was right.
     Richard said "I'd read all the academic papers and what the historians had said about the stones and no one mentioned a bird carving. When Connor asked me what the bird meant I just thought, it doesn't matter because we haven't got one! It just goes to show how the untrained eye can spot things experts miss" He went on to say "After Connor made the discovery I wanted to make sure the carvings hadn't been mentioned anywhere. I spoke to an expert in Bristol who was totally unaware of it and said it was remarkable. It just goes to show there are things out there still to be discovered".
     Although the stones themselves date to approximately 2,800 BCE it is thought that the carvings were not added until 5th - 15th Centuries CE.

Edited from Liverpool echo (17 April 2015)

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