Neolithic rock art found in English quarry

Published on July 16th, 2010 | by Admin


A piece of Neolithic rock art, from 4,500 years ago, has been found in the Cambridgeshire village of Over in England.

The hand-sized artefact, which could date back to 2,500 BC, was found by a participant in a geological weekend course which was being run by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Continuing Education.

It consists of a hand-sized slab of weathered sandstone with two pairs of concentric circles etched into the surface – a motif which, according to archaeologists, is typical of “Grooved Ware” art from the later Neolithic era.

While examples of similar Grooved Ware art have been discovered at sites elsewhere in the UK, this is the first time that any such find has been encountered in Eastern England, which may provide more information about the connections of the communities who inhabited the area 4,500 years ago.

The motives of whoever created the design are unclear. Researchers say that it could represent the ornamental efforts of a Prehistoric Picasso, but may just as easily have been an aimless inscription.

“It really is a fantastic find; certainly we have had nothing like it from any of our sites before,” Dr. Chris Evans, Director of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which operates out of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, said.

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2 Responses to Neolithic rock art found in English quarry

  1. Susan Campbell says:

    Dr Chris Evans could take a look at information on the rock art of Argyll, Scotland where there are many sites with similar cup and ring marks. The patterning is very familiar.

    Maybe it doesn’t need to be a wholly ‘English’ take on the find; it’s a discovery possibly dating from the Neolithic or Bronze ages, long before there was an England, which is under discussion. Who was passing through, and left his or her mark on the stone?

  2. Graham Hill says:

    The 2 pairs of concentric rings look like Neolithic owl eyes as seen on Iberian bone idols. After spotting the smaller set the viewer looks at the sandstone for more patterns and tends to imagine further human work in the natural swirls and voids in the fossiliferous rock. Try it yourself if you can find a good image.
    There is more to this than a ‘doodle’ and more to the work even than ‘art’.
    If you are still not impressed then try doodling something similar at smaller than a matchbox scale into hard silicified sandstone.

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