Prehistoric rock art in Patterdale 270m north west of Crookabeck


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019436

Date first listed: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric rock art in Patterdale 270m north west of Crookabeck
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Patterdale

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 40027 15784


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'. 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 (c.2800-500 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 prehistoric rock art sites in Patterdale 270m north west of Crookabeck survive well and display a wide assortment of differing motifs. Limited removal of surface vegetation has revealed that the extent of these carvings are greater than originally thought and further examples are considered to lie beneath the surface vegetation. The monument is one of four recently discovered prehistoric rock art sites in Patterdale which together will contribute greatly to further study and understanding of prehistoric rock art sites in the region.


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


The monument 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.

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: 32873

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Art at Crookabeck, (1999)

End of official listing