Cup and ring marked rock 740m east of Park Head House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Cup and ring marked rock 740m east of Park Head House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 32632 83141

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'. Pecked lines or grooves can also exist in isolation from cup and ring decoration. 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 well preserved cup and ring carved rock 740m east of Park Head House is the first prehistoric carving to be discovered in the eastern foothills of the South Pennines. It is therefore a very rare, in situ, example of prehistoric rock art in this area. The carving itself is also unusual, with the raised oval boss being unique in its composition.


The monument includes a carved, earthfast, coarse sandstone rock near the north eastern edge of Ecclesall Wood. The rock is situated approximately 70m north east of a junction of two footpaths which run through the wood from north to south. The carving on the slightly domed upper surface of the rock consists of three sub-oval, deeply cut rings, each surrounding one to four shallower cups connected by gutters. The central ring with its internal cups has been emphasised by cutting away the sandstone on three sides to form a raised oval boss. This feature is possibly unique and illustrates that the carving was designed with visual prominence in mind rather than being executed purely as a ceremonial act. Other unusual features of the carving are the gutters near the edge of the slab which surround much of the carving. Internal gutters subdivide the slab into several irregular, enclosure-like, zones. The various elements of the carving are not cut to a consistent depth, frequently shallow features being intersected by deeper ones. This feature indicates that the carving was not executed as a unitary design but was been modified over time. There are several irregular patches of shallow carving on the slab which may represent attempts to cut away obtrusive features of earlier designs. Elsewhere on the slab they serve to emphasise particular features.

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.

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Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Frith, P, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Newly Discovered Cup And Ring Carving in Ecclesall Wood, Sheff, , Vol. 103, (1983), 41-42


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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