Cup and ring marked rocks on Chirnells Moor, 800m east of Red Chirnells


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011294

Date first listed: 23-Apr-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Nov-1993


Ordnance survey map of Cup and ring marked rocks on Chirnells Moor, 800m east of Red Chirnells
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Thropton

National Grid Reference: NU 04142 02752


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Prehistoric rock art is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland, Durham and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is the `cup and ring' marking where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the `rings' may also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also occur, but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one of our most important insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. Frequently they are found close to contemporary burial monuments and the symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or incorporated in burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will normally be identified as nationally important.

The cup and ring marked rocks on Chirnells Moor display many of the characteristic symbols typical of Prehistoric rock art in upland Britain and in addition some particularly local features. Typically in Coquetdale, few of the cups are surrounded by rings but are associated with meandering linear grooves; the combination of the usual and the unusual is especially interesting.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an area of bedrock which outcrops in at least seven places with many groups of cupmarks and several cup and ring marks visible on its surface. The outcrops form a low ridge which extends for 101m north-east to south-west along the crest of Chirnells Moor and for 28m north-west to south-east. The rocks bear a wide variety of combinations of cupmarks distributed in lines, in large clusters and occurring in isolation, measuring in general 6cm in diameter. One of the rocks at the south-eastern end of the ridge bears at least 38 single cupmarks. A few of the cupmarks are surrounded by rings; one of the rocks contains six such features. Other features typical of cup and ring marked rocks in the area are faint linear features and large shallow basins, one of the latter measuring 22cm across.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20886

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Newbigin, E R, 'Proc. Soc. Antic. Newcastle 4 ser 6 1933-1934' in Cup Marked Rocks On Chirnells Moor, Rothbury, (1934), 345-8
Newbigin, E R, 'Proc. Soc. Antic. Newcastle 4 ser 8 1937-1938' in A Cup Marked Stone From Cartington, (1938), 114
No. 2259,

End of official listing