pattersdale rock engravings


the complex includes five closely-spaced examples of prehistoric rock art in patterdale. they are all located on a low, tree-covered rock and gravel outcrop of close-grained igneous rock on low-lying ground a short distance east of goldrill beck 270m north west of crookabeck. at the south end of the outcrop, at approximately ny40031576, there is an outcrop sheet of rock lying roughly east-west which contains two clusters of ‘cups’, ie small circular hollows in the rock, together with numerous oval hollows and linear grooves with rounded ends. close by another outcrop sheet of rock displays cups and parallel grooves which run to the western edge of the rock, and additionally there is a curved crack which appears to have been the focus for six cups. on the top of the ridge, at approximately ny40031578, a panel of exposed rock slopes gently to the east. this is liberally covered with parallel natural cracks, cups, ovals, linear grooves with rounded ends, and at least two cup and ring motifs. on the same rock, but a short distance to the north, there is a cup with an incomplete angular ring around which are peck marks suggesting that more rings were intended. other adjacent features include a linear groove with rounded ends, some cups and a cup and ring.

a few metres to the north is a small exposed panel of rock on top of the ridge which displays a large shallow basin with a groove running from it downslope. flanking this groove are two small cups. other carvings include a curved groove and an arrangement of four cups linked by another curved groove. at the northern end of the outcrop, at approximately ny40031580, an exposure of rock contains a dense cluster of cups, ovals, and linear grooves, together with a long, slightly curving linear groove which runs down the rock and a small number of isolated cups. recent limited removal of surface vegetation has revealed that the extent of the prehistoric rock art here covers a greater area than initially suspected when these sites were first discovered in 1999. further examples are considered to lie below the thin vegetation covering. these are one of many groups of cupped and grooved rocks that are situated in the valley.

the one illustrated is located at a level higher than the ones described above and further towards ullswater. although now surrounded by trees it would have commanded a clear view of the valley entrance and the seasonal hunting and fishing routes to and from the mountains, ullswater and lake windermere at the other end of the valley. this group might well have formed a gathering location for feasting and planning expeditions. the multitude of marks gathering over time and possibly marking the comings and goings of various tribes or family groups.