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

Davy's Lee

Cup Marked Stone


Notes originally posted in 2004, then reposted after site was taken from TMA by he who did originally post it's presence, then edited after a 3rd revisit on Nov 02 2007, this time with a bunch of veteran D&NRAPers. What a faff.

Despite what I've written below, closer inspection showed that this does look like outcrop.

There are also signs of quarrying, though by whom, who knows. it may have even been those pesky romans, who went around snaffling other people's sandstone for their gaudy Mithraic temples etc.

Irregardless of who did the quarrying, it is interesting to wonder why they stopped before they'd broken up the whole bit of outcrop.

Imagination, given a bit of free-rein, suggests that this may have been because the 'significant' nature of the cupmarks was recognised, as is seen on many other marked outcrops in the county.

or, it may have been a deliberate act of desecration, with the remaining few cups being left as a reminder of what had been done. In which case, perhaps the original outcrop was much larger, maybe with more, wonderfully complex motifs (as opposed to a handful of fairly ropey cups...).

This speculation in turn leads to the idea that it may have been a case of prehistoric reverence, that a part of the marked stone was taken to serve as part of one of the many cairns in the area, or maybe even one of the cists, as is also seen with marked rocks elsewhere in Northumberland.

But, when it comes down to it, it's more than likely that the stone was quarried to provide material for the nearby limekilns. Why did the quarrying stop before the whole stone was removed? Well, if I were some 18th/19thC dude repairing what was possibly an old roman limekiln, I'd only quarry as much as I needed, no more. What's the point of going through the effort of breaking and transporting stones you don't need?

Possibly the same cup-marked stone originally added to the county SMR by a keen cup-spotter, but then largely overlooked (like most of the prehistoric remains close to Hadrian's Wall), this erratic boulder is fairly conspicuous, it's the only one in the enclosed field, more or less in the middle of what is marked on the OS map as 'Davy's Lee'. I'm not sure if it's the thing recorded on the Beckensall Archive, as that had a grid ref which placed it in a nearby stream, and was listed as being on outcrop. There's no outcrop in the stream and there's more than the 6 cups related on both the Archive and on the Northumberland county SMR, so ambiguity prevails.

It has natural grooves, which seem to have deermined the placement of the cups to some degree, as they are in groups, each group in an a part of the surface defined by the grooves.

The enclosed field in which the stone sits is interesting in it's own right, as the boundary is a low earthen bank, containing what looks like cord rig. The banks are more pronounced at the NW corner, where a ditch is also in evidence, possibly part of a settlement?

Like most of the pre-roman remains in the vicinity, I'd argue this stone may have some connection with the stupendous stone at Queen's crags.

Ask permission at the gatehouse, or at Sewingshields Farm. Rough, boggy terrain unsuitable for wheelchairs.
Hob Posted by Hob
21st March 2007ce
Edited 25th November 2007ce

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