|from This Is Bradford
Famous markings may be forged?
Internationally renowned prehistoric rock markings may have been forged, it is being claimed. Ilkley's Panorama Stone is known around the world for its distinctive "ladder" motif.
But far from being the work of our prehistoric ancestors the designs are more likely to have been added by a Victorian workman, according to a local expert. Gavin Edwards, Museums Officer, Archaeology, at the Manor House in Ilkley, stumbled across evidence of possible fraud and skulduggery whilst carrying out research into the Panorama Stones.
And now his findings are set to send shock waves around the archaeological community. But even more surprising, in his view, is the fact that the evidence has been in the public domain for almost a century. Mr Edwards believes Victor-ian illustrations and a report in the Ilkley Gazette in 1913 point to the fact that the ladder design considered to be extremely rare prehistoric artwork -- was added to the original, authentic cup and ring markings.
As evidence he produces two Victorian illustrations, one made by an unknown artist probably in the 1860s, and another which appeared in a publication in 1896. Whist the first shows no evidence of the distinctive, rare design, the latter includes the disputed markings.
He says: "Evidence that the marking on the rock might have been altered in Victorian times is provided by a number of contemporary illustrations. These show significant differences, which might be argued to result from artistic licence or oversight, but a report that appeared in the Ilkley Gazette, March 22, 1913, suggests something much more deliberate.
The report describes a lecture by Mr T C Gill, Bailiff of Ilkley Moor, in which he suggests that some of the markings may have been added. The Bailiff even named the person he believed may have been responsible. One Ambrose Collins, a workman employed at the Semon's Convalescent Home from 1872-73 was reported to "spend most of his leisure time carving and ornamenting the rocks near the home, evidently hoping that at some future time they would be discovered and become famous."
Mr Edwards believes his argument is likely to prove controversial as the ladder markings on the Panorama stone are internationally renowned. But he believes the evidence is too powerful simply to ignore.
He said: "The Panorama stones are known internationally be-cause of this unexplained ladder pattern. They are very famous and considered to be very special but I suspect the reason they are special is because they are slightly fraudulent. Once you see the drawings and see the difference, and then read the article you cannot help but come to the conclusion that there is probably something very dodgy about this. Because they are such famous rocks I am deeply surprised that no-one has raised this possibility before. It just seems incredible when the evidence has been there for 90 years. The implication, unfortunately is that if one stone can be altered then how many others have been altered."
Mr Edwards will be looking at the issue as part of an exhibition at the Manor House later this year. Not Set In Stone looks at rock art today, and will run from September 25 to November 21.
Posted by Rhiannon
20th July 2004ce
Edited 13th October 2006ce