The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Whitley Pike



This site is included in the Beckensall archive although hadn't been visited. I had just read the description of a bleak, boulder strewn hillside and five panels with basins. It was discovered by R Charlton and described and illustrated in the magazine of the Redesdale Society in 1983. I was expecting to find a few basins like those common as natural erosion features on fell sandstone outcrops and boulders. To my surprise the motifs are amazing, thought provoking and very unusual.

The site is close to the Pennine Way, between Bellingham and Kielder, just W of Whitley Pike. The ridge has the extensive views common to other rock-art sites and is a remote and wild place. More traditional cup-marked rocks can be found about 1km NW on Padon Hill.

Five boulders or outcrops have markings which are nearly all recessed circular dishes or basins. One of the largest curves over the bend of a outcrop on both vertical and horizontal faces like the Dali watch in his painting: The Persistence of Memory.
The excellent Charlton drawing is given in:

There is some confusion over the Beckensall Archive decsription, grid references and illustrations, and I haven't been able to match all 5 panels. There are about 10 basins, some very faint and possibly others that are either highly eroded or possible natural features. Two of the circular features also run to the rock edges and may continue on another face like the Dali watch motif. One groove shows what may be pick marks but some of the basins look too clean to be prehistoric.

It's all very interesting, but is it rock art? I've not seen anything else similar in Northumberland. If it's not rock art, what is it? The rock has many inclusions and nearby shake holes may indicate the presence of limestone. Some of the basins appear much too finely made to be natural inclusions.

If they are man-made who made them, when and why? As usual, more questions than answers. Just another typical day out among the rock art of Northumberland.
Posted by rockandy
25th June 2005ce
Edited 26th June 2005ce

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