LONDON, UK.- Volunteers braved the biting chill of Barningham Moor in County Durham recently to carry out a survey that forms part of English Heritage’s two-year pilot project to record the region’s prehistoric rock art and create a national index that will be available worldwide on the Internet.
No-one knows for sure the true purpose of the amazing cups and rings carved on rocks all over the region by Neolithic people up to six thousand years ago. But when appeals went out for volunteers and enthusiasts in Northumberland and Durham to be trained to take part in the £170,000 project, jointly managed by Northumberland and Durham County Councils, more than 80 people fascinated by ancient rock art and its mysterious origins came forward.
Since then the five groups have been learning from teams of specialists including English Heritage experts how to carry out a detailed survey the rock art, assessing its condition and the risks to its future in the exposed and windswept landscape where it occurs.
English Heritage’s rock art advisory group visited the volunteers on Barningham Moor and also on Weetwood Moor, Northumberland and Chatton Park , Northumberland. The group has some of Britain ’s leading experts in rock art and includes surveyors, archaeologists and scientists from Scotland , the National Parks, and even Gotaland in Sweden where a similar project is running. The advisory group have been helping English Heritage develop this and other rock art projects for many years.
Kate Wilson, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage said: “The advisors are very pleased with the way the project is progressing, and are absolutely delighted at the numbers of people who came forward as volunteers.
“The main aim of the project is to pilot the creation of the first national rock art index and in doing that we want to involve as many local people as possible, raise awareness and increase understanding about these beautiful pieces of ancient art in our landscapes, and share this learning with as many people as possible. We’ve certainly found that there is a lot of interest and enthusiasm with this project, and we can only encourage more people to come forward and get involved.”
Once the Northumberland and Durham pilot project is complete, English Heritage hopes to roll out a programme of similar schemes right across the country, with the survey findings being turned into a fully accessible online database.