Prehistoric carved rocks within and south of West Agra Plantation
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021208
Date first listed: 22-Dec-2003
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Harrogate (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SE 14111 81669, SE 14193 81737, SE 14239 81679, SE 14251 81753, SE 14533 81731, SE 14823 81482, SE 15173 81476
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
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 will normally be identified as nationally important.
The prehistoric carved rocks within and south of West Agra plantation form a remarkable group. The design with the cup mark surrounded by concentric circles is especially notable. However the monument's overall national importance comes from having a distribution of a number of different carved rocks within an area. Any further rocks identified in the future will add additional importance to the monument.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument is formed from seven separate areas of protection to include
a dispersed group of at least nine prehistoric carved rocks on the south
side of West Agra Plantation. It is likely that there are further carved
rocks of national importance in the area that have not been identified,
especially further within the plantation. Six of the protected areas are
centred on individual carved rocks, the seventh and most westerly area,
includes a more closely spaced group of rocks.
The eastern-most carved rock lies in the field on the north side of Low Agra, 7m east of a field wall. The carving is a pecked line forming a rough oval 60cm by 45cm. The next rock lies approximately 350m to the west, 4m west of another field wall and 20m north of a gateway. It has five, possibly six cup marks regularly spaced around a steep-sided depression about 0.4m across. Although the depression is thought to be natural, it appears to have been artificially modified. On the line of the field wall 130m north of West Agra farm there is a large rock outcrop measuring around 4m by 7m. This has at least four sets of carvings on it. The largest covers most of the upper east facing part of the rock, and is over 1.5m across. It is a complex of intersecting pecked lines both straight and curving as well as at least two cup marks. When viewed from the east it appears to show a stylised human figure, however this may be accidental. On the north west facing, upper surface there are two much smaller designs, both less than 0.5m across. The first is a grid pattern of pecked lines attached to a circle. The second design is also of pecked lines, but more deeply incised. This has a rough circle overlapping one corner of a square, with the circle enclosing a cup mark and a curved line. The fourth set of carvings is on a higher part of the rock just to the north. This includes two distinct cup marks, a straight groove, a pecked line forming an irregular polygon and a curving line of less distinct cup marks. About 340m to the west, just within the plantation 10m NNE of a wall junction and on the north side of a trackway, there is a nearly horizontal slab of rock outcrop approximately 3m by 5m. On its upper surface there is a very fine carved design. This has a central cup mark 4cm in diameter with a pair of grooves forming a very slight wedge approaching it from the south east. These grooves interrupt six concentric circles that are centred on the cup mark, with the diameter of the outermost circle being 44cm. About 0.7m to the north east there are further much less distinct carved lines. More carving may also lie further to the north where the surface of the rock is now obscured by a thin build up of soil. The next rock lies nearly 60m to the west, just north of the field wall within the plantation, but south of the track. It is about 3m by 3m and has at least ten cup marks and two grooves. About 80m to the south east, south of the plantation, is another large flat slab of bedrock. This is approximately 5m by 6m and is overlain by a north-south drystone field wall. It has in excess of 40 cup marks and a number of grooved lines spread across the whole upper surface of the rock. Some of the cup marks lie within clusters and a number of the grooves intersect with each other. Some of the grooves are also quite long and appear to divide up the surface of the rock into areas. In the next field to the west there is a group of rock outcrops that are partly depicted on the 1:10,000 map. The rock central to the group is the largest and measures about 6m by 7m. It has a number of heavily weathered cup marks and possible grooves on its upper surface. This includes two distinct clusters of carvings with eight cup marks and two grooves close to the south eastern edge, and a further six cup marks in a ring on the western side. The southern-most rock outcrop has a further five cup marks, with a further group of heavily weathered cup marks on the most north eastern rock. All the rock outcrops in the field have areas covered by turf that may conceal further carvings, for instance the most westerly outcrop of the group is almost completely turf covered. The monument also includes most of the rest of the field in which these outcrops lie. Buried prehistoric remains including human burials have been found close to carved rocks elsewhere, and the surrounding field provides a sample of the prehistoric land surface which is expected to survive beneath the modern turf. However the monument excludes a 2m strip around the edge of the field adjacent to the field walls. Thus the drystone walls and any tumbled stone within this 2m strip are not included in the scheduling.
The drystone walls that run over or within the 2m protective margin around the carved rocks further to the east are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.
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: 34732
Legacy System: RSM
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