Getting into the Groove (ed ware)?…

shelteringmemory

Literally. We may have found evidence of crushed human bone being mixed into the clay used to make Early Bronze Age pottery. While I was looking at the Moseley Height Bronze Age pottery last week in Towneley Hall Museum I saw something that I thought was very exciting. Large white specks in the body of the pot had a very bone-like appearance. I kept quiet about this in last week’s post because I hadn’t had chance to check it out properly, however…

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This is the surviving portion of Urn C. It is the bit around the rim and, as you can see, it has been fairly intensively restored since it was excavated in 1950. There are big sections where the shape has been reconstructed (or made up) using plaster of paris and brown paint. The rest of it is original Bronze Age ceramic but, to keep it from crumbling, it…

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Ring cairn looking down Oxendale

Ring cairn overlooking Oxendale

While winter snows lie outside its spring at Whorneyside ring cairn! There are numerous prehistoric monuments found throughout the Cumbrian Fells, some the subject of this blog, can be classified as embanked ring cairns with some confidence whilst others are more difficult to fit into existing typologies. Many of these are smaller more ephemeral structures that often occur in close proximity with the more definable ring cairns.

Whornyside ring cairn

Whornyside ring cairn

These tend to be sited high up in the coombes of the fells generally from 400-500m AOD

Whornyside ring cairn, plan and reconstruction

Whornyside ring cairn, plan and reconstruction

With an eye of faith we can see how this cairn may have looked when constructed.

Ring cairn, Great Castle How

Ring cairn, Great Castle How

Here at Castle How above Grasmere we can see a structure of the same diameter and construction with a more “traditional” stone banked ring cairn in the distance across the valley.

Greenburn Bottom ring cairn

Greenburn Bottom ring cairn

The neighboring valley of Greenburn also contains similar structures, this time orthostats are still extant with what may be a cairn central to the circle.

Brenig ring cairn

Brenig ring cairn

At Llyn Brenig in North Wales, an area with numerous excavated Bronze Age monuments  this ring cairn is on a much greater scale, perhaps reflecting the population of that locale.

Broken Spectre, Skiddaw

Broken Spectre, Skiddaw

Whilst out on Skiddaw the other day I was followed for half a mile by the Broken Spectre, it got me wondering what prehistoric people made of this phenomenon that we can now explain through physics.

Whympers vision on descending the Matterhorn

Whymper’s vision on descending the Matterhorn

Even as recently as 1865 Edward Whymper descending the Matterhorn with his remaining companions, in his heightened state of anxiety following the death of three of his team,  interpreted the Broken Spectre as a vision.

Modern ring cairn Scoat Fell

Modern ring cairn Scoat Fell summit

People still build in the round on mountain tops.

Whorneyside ring cairn and PikeO'Blisco

Whorneyside ring cairn and Pike O’Blisco

Perhaps it’s the place we find ourselves in.

Notes

There is a fine trail to be followed round various Bronze Age monuments at LLyn Brenig: http://www.cpat.org.uk/walks/brenig.pdf

These were excavated by Frances Lynch in the 1970’s and are published in a monograph, the typologies are based on this work and many other sites are discussed here: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/20567822?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21105668461373

Greetings to all readers for a fine 2015! – “Now is the time for fire and wine…” – its elemental…

Darkness; landscape fades, eyes are drawn to the fire cups, intimate in their rocky relief.

More Fire cups 036

Altitude; changed world – domed profile glimpsed through the notch, upturned axe blade thrust into the earth marking the spot

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Through the vaporous air – Isle of Man – connecting the Neolithic Irish Sea-farers

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Mountains mirrored in mercury water, a place for reflection and offering

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Light; solstice morning, winds blow, the sun hides

Windy Crummock Solstice 016

Pete

Notes and references

A  session  themed on “Fire” at the Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference at Manchester University this year reminded me of some “experiential archaeology” from a few years back;“Fire Cups” ,the consequence of some discussions with Dave Chapman around simple stone lamps from Late Upper Palaeolithic cave sites in France  which was followed by an impressive demonstration using a home pecked stone-cup-lamp, cooking oil and a plaited moss wick.

http://www.ancient-arts.org/index.html

To the best of my knowledge there is no archaeological evidence of burning within pecked cups on outcrops but this was simulated with enclosed candles. The main problem on a still evening was to get the candles to stay alight; the rock’s  elevated position meant that there were small eddies encircling the outcrop repeatedly puffing the flames out. With perseverance the effect was intriguing, like stars, an eerie sight late in the evening had anyone cast their gaze lake-wards. No cups were harmed in the making!

More on experimental “Burning The Circle” on Arran can be found on Gavin MacGregor’s blog and Northlight Heritage’s website

https://heritagelandscapecreativity.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/burning-circle/

http://northlight-heritage.co.uk/conc5/index.php/sub1/burning-circle/

Pike O’Stickle – site of Neolithic Axe-Factories – although a diminutive peak in the Cumbrian Mountains has distinctive profile which is curiously conspicuous from a broad area.

The quote is from Steve Ashley’s song “Fire and Wine”.

Thus the chant went out early in the morning at Woodstock as the somnolent – LSD weary –  space cadets arose, drawn from their slumbers by the mantra; it was Sly and the Family Stone getting funky. This was recently recalled in a BBC documentary and although never a great funkster myself the pounding rhythm that drives the music many find irresistible and the suggestion was that this was because of its rhythm that mimics the human heartbeat. So of course rock art in high places came to mind…

sly_live

Well, despite the apparent nonexistent relationship between “Funkadelia” and rock art, it’s all about making human connections and this one concerns the auditory element in the creation of rock art. It can’t be avoided, anyone who has bashed two rocks together knows it makes quite a noise, outdoors with an amphitheatre of mountains the sound is amplified and  echoes too, adding to the effect. In a world free of sound pollution this would make a strong impact on people.

Lakes, castlerigg, stanbury, g rock g 050

So the remote Weather Stones on top of Boulsworth Hill came to mind, where I had found an eroded cup-and-ring, cups and grooves on a slab and at an altitude of over 500m this must surely be a candidate for the highest rock art in England!

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Here on the wild East Lancs moors the wind and water eroded gritstone blocks endow an otherworldly feeling to the place, it is transformative, liminal, between earth and sky;

Saucer Stones

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the sun begins to set – a crack between the worlds

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Cold water glows gold

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The pointing finger

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The basin

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This is also a place of myth, also known as Lad Law with  Hill of Slaughter conveniently carved into the rocks below a solution hollow said to be where druids sacrificed…well people?

Pike o Stickle 047    Pike o Stickle 048

Runnels and grooves are also a feature of other rock art sites, most dramatically at Lordenshaw,Northumberland, another elevated site, arguably, set in a ceremonial landscape on the slopes of Simonside Fell, where a friend referred to them as blood gutters, mmm… a touch of hyperbole I hope!

Northumbrian rock art 107

Now unlike the neighbouring Rombalds Moor, across the Aire Valley, this is a locale with rather a dearth of rock art although some cup-marks can be found on the easterly parapet of the pack-horse bridge at Wycoller which appear to be the sections of a broken monolith.

rock art ilkley moor 085

This is the setting for  Anne Brontes Wildfell Hall, she and her sisters conveyed the elemental nature of these moors well.

A sheepdog – wolf, the queen of hearts

Pike o Stickle 067

The auditory force of the rhythmic tapping would have only added to the dramatic effect of the place on any throng that might have assembled. Pounding rhythms using percussion have been used for millennia by shamanic types to create a trance-like out-of-body experience or to be technical Altered States of Consciousness. So we can see that the creative act of producing these rock-marks may have actually had more impact and was the more significant element in that process than the finished impression.

There has been debate over the years as to whether narcotics were used in British prehistory to attain altered states of consciousness, there are suggestions that this was so but on balance I would say the jury is still out. But human nature supported by anthropological examples suggest that  when people find something that intrigues them they use it, and when it means they spend some time out of mind, the thrill seekers do it. Of course there are many cases where this is used as a powerful tool such as in shamanic ritual, these days one difference is that these kind of drugs are available to buy should you so wish.

Lithophone, Peter Crosthwaite

Coming back down to earth in Cumbria and the somewhat more prosaic. The lithophonic quality of the Langdale tuff or clinkstone as it became known has been noted by researchers and we also have a lithophone! The original (pictured) was made in about 1786 by Peter Crosthwaite from Skiddaw slate this, and a more sophisticated version that was played to Queen Victoria in London, is on display in Keswick Museum, I somehow doubt she was amused.

rock , rock, rock 027

So some people still seek their escape from the  hum-drum material world. These days some find refuge in the heart throbbing frenetic drug fueled clubbing scene, others seeking flight can still be seen wandering the moors searching for solace, some of those questers you will notice with  their heads inclined earthward, sometimes looking for the eponymous liberty cap fungus, as perhaps people may always have done.

Pete

Sources and acknowledgements

More about the Keswick lithophones can be found here

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ruskinrocks/relevant-articiles.htm and at Keswick Museum

http://www.allerdale.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/museums-and-galleries/keswick-museum/the-collection.aspx

The picture of the lithophone is from the website of Martin and Jean Norgate and can be found here

http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/topics/lithph01.htm

More on English Rock Art can be found here: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/era/

If you would like an introduction into possible prehistoric narcotic use you could look at Richard Rudgley’s book The Alchemy of Culture

One benefit of enforced inactivity – over zealous mountain biking – is that you can sort through photos and reflect on previous years field work. In this case some prehistoric cup-marked rocks found in Rydal in 2010. These were spotted in January on the way to reconnoitre the upper Rydal Valley for a field survey carried out later that year. I had been targeting various glaciated slabs, mainly roche moutonnée, in the Lake District valleys for man-made cup-marks and spotted this one and took a look; this is as it appeared to me.

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Up to that time there were hardly a handful of cup-marked slabs known in the Lake District, one of these was Barbers Rock in Loweswater across the fields from our home (below). As children we played here and noticed the curious smoothed hollows and thought these were places where people had ground “things”; I thought little of them for several decades until I realised that child’s-eye view was not that far off and these were made by the hand of man.

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So the question everyone asks is invariably “what do they mean?” and the answer is, we don’t exactly know, but we could have a stab at it. Ronald Morris proposed 104 uses for rock art in his book on the rock art of Galloway and this highlights the sometimes speculative nature of the search for meaning in abstract petroglyphs; which were in use for over 1000 years from the Later Neolithic to Bronze Age. But perhaps they give some insight into the cultural references of the time; inspirations revolving around relationships with landscape, the natural environment and their nascent agricultural practices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So to throw a few thoughts out there, we see similar rock markings, caused by erosive processes such as natural cups and here at the entrance to Great Langdale rock ripples.

Caithness 125

Water, fundamental, ubiquitous – ripples – reflections – motion

Rock art at Great Langdale

Rock art at Great Langdale

Quartz  – triboluminescence, glowing when struck together – hammerstones used in cup-making at Kilmartin Glen, Argyll.

Quartz "stone circle" Isle of Man

Giants Fingers the extraordinary remains of a quartz stone circle, Isle of Man

Society probably had vestigial animistic belief structures at the time, so carving on the “living rock” would have had great significance and likely a good deal of ritual associated with it. Was the action of rock-marking perhaps more significant than the end result; a statement of belonging to that spot? A mnemonic for death; the proximity of cairns in some cases could suggest this or were the meanings of marked-places to prehistoric people also multi-facetted?

Rydal High Park CM Plan

But as I start to digitise the most recent finds from the Lake District (above) I am reminded of this picture…

barrow mus-xmas 08 050

…no not Floss!

Pete

Sources

You can read the 104 varieties of rock art in The Prehistoric Rock Art of Galloway and the Isle of Man by Ronald W. B. Morris and they are not all fanciful.

Thanks to Kate Sharpe whose Doctoral Thesis gave some inspiration to look for rock art sites in the Lakes:  Motifs, Monuments and Mountains: Prehistoric Rock Art in the Cumbrian Landscape online at: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do;jsessionid=00502FD1F652A65EEDD012FECB272D99?did=1&uin=uk.bl.ethos.525624

Visualisations and other integrated archaeological artistic endeavours are shown on Aaron Watson and collaborators website: http://www.monumental.uk.com/photography/

Excavations around rock art sites and the associated use of quartz are discussed in: An Animate Landscape: Rock Art and the Prehistory of Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland by Andy Jones et al.

Greenburn cairns, Great Gable 11.11.12 032

It’s a long way from Flanders Fields to Great Gable,  hub of Wordsworth’s Lake District “wheel”. For over 90 years a pilgrimage of remembrance has led to a poignant monument, here on the summit rocks, on Remembrance Sunday. It is to those members of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who were killed in the First World War and would never tread these fells again, people pause and take a moment of silence up here to remember all victims of war; mans folly.

Greenburn cairns, Great Gable 11.11.12 054

Cairns have generally been built to mark summits or as way-markers. They are proliferating, people add to them, marking another “Wainwright” climbed perhaps or someone’s passing, some are appropriated as formal or informal memorials to the dead. There is a continuity with the past here, as just some of these summit Cairns are prehistoric, a memorial place perhaps for a local tribe.

Greenburn cairns, Great Gable 11.11.12 048

Now in a dynamic landscape being altered by man, pounded by the constant tread of boots, it is quite hard to identify which cairns have been here for a hundred years or so and which have been for a few thousand years. There are sometimes a few clues to be seen in their eroded structures but otherwise we are reliant on reports of antiquarians and surveyors from a time before the Lake District became popular for walkers. One of these people was James Clifton Ward a member of the British Geological Survey who worked from Keswick in the 1870’s. Although in poor health he walked the Fells and noted unusually large cairns on some peaks such as Seatallan. This particular fell sits on the western fringes of the mountains; an area rich in prehistoric upland settlement remains.

Wasdale 025

Why people chose particular mountains on which to place cairns in prehistory is perhaps too larger subject to address in this blog. However on the face of it there would be an element of aesthetics creeping in here with some on nicely rounded peaks and others on distinctly  pyramidal, whilst others like Seatallan are perhaps chosen for their relative isolation and proximity to Bronze Age settlements. Establishing unequivocally that these are prehistoric burial cairns might only be possible by excavation, exposing any concealed structural elements; it is unlikely that any artefacts or human remains would survive as the environmental conditions are too aggressive.

Rydal High Park 18. 11. 2014 011

I am reminded of mountain burials as I record a cairn-field, which is surely a cemetery, set in a sheltered hollow high above Rydal; a locale rich in prehistoric rock art. One ponders on the connection between the two, both set in an elevated spot with fine views over Rydal Water to the distant Langdale Pikes; surely as good a final resting place as anyone could wish for.

Greenburn cairns, Great Gable 11.11.12 041

After thought…It is interesting to note that as I stood in the misty silence on Gable’s summit around me and amongst the feet of the gathered throng were scattered people’s ashes. Should archaeologists come to investigate these cairns and summits one wonders what interpretation they may draw from the stratified layer of cremated bone from the 21st Century should it survive; Burial Cairns?

Pete

Sources and notes

Clifton Ward’s surveys are recorded in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society 1876/8

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the old plaque has now been replaced with a shiny new one; these photographs are from 2012

This week I start in distant lands with mountains obscured by clouds. In 1938 mountaineer Heinrich Harrer was part of the team to first ascend the North Face of the Eiger. He was interned in India during the war escaping in 1944 where he made his way into Tibet, a tale told in  “Seven Years in Tibet” where he became an official in the Tibetan Government and personal tutor to the Dalai Lama. On his return from Tibet he resumed his mountaineering activities and in 1962 led an expedition to Papua New Guinea to climb the Carstenesz Pyramid he had heard of before the war. Harrer was fascinated with the tribes he met in Papua New Guinea and wrote a compelling account of his experiences in “I Come From the Stone Age”. Whilst here he met the Dani people of the Baleim Valley in the Western Highlands and was the first westerner to witness the journey to Ya-Li-Me on the Kiembe River, the Andiba rock quarries, used for axe making.

A Dani tribesman sharpening his stone axe

A Dani tribesman sharpening his stone axe

Excitement amongst the Dani men mounts on reaching Ya-Li-Me beside the river; a men only affair as it was taboo for women to visit this place. They then set about building wooden scaffolding up the rock face using twenty-foot poles with great gusto in a haphazard affair and laying slabs of stone on this on which they set a fire abutting the rock face. After some unsuccessful attempts at splitting the rock Harrer was asked to light the fire, as he was now called Ya-Tuan the Stone-Axe Gentleman, and with some ritual, which included a lump of rancid pork fat, he lit the fire. Fortunately this fire had the desired effect and the performance of knapping axes started amid great enthusiasm and injuries which were treated by the expedition doctor, I could go on but you should read the book!

Pike O'Stickle from Glaramara Tarn

Pike O’Stickle from Glaramara Tarn

It is fascinating to think that from the Early Neolithic  around 6000 years ago,even here in Cumbria  people like the Dani, were wandering the high fells prospecting for a specific type of rock from which to make their own axes. One wonders how they did this, were they systematic, following the crags and their scree like their later day explorers Bunch, Fell and Plint; or was it a random affair?

Ruddy Beck: Conchoidal fracturing on Seathwaite Tuff

Ruddy Beck: Conchoidal fracturing on Seathwaite Tuff

Now as I trudged down from my last expedition, subject of my previous blog, I noticed some conchoidal fracturing on blue-green Seathwaite Tuff bedrock here where the glacial deposits had been stripped away. Feeling in need of sustenance I resolved to return another day to take a closer look, to see whether the hand of prehistoric man had been at work here. Conchoidal fracturing means that when struck the rock fractures leaving a scallop shell-like shape on the parent rock; the resultant flake will be the obverse shape with a bulb of percussion on the end nearest the blow. Now this fracturing can happen naturally when rocks tumble over each other but also when struck repeatedly by stone hammers; the challenge is to differentiate the two.

Mineral Level Ruddy Beck/Grains Ghyll

Mineral working level, Ruddy Beck/Grains Ghyll

So, like the latter-day prospectors following mountain streams searching for mineral veins, did the prehistoric people first spot the exposed tuff in the ravine sides or see pebbles of tuff in the streams that had washed down from the mountains and track them upstream to locate the “mother lode”? Indeed as the hard tuff makes for obvious near vertical crags this was almost certainly another landmark the ancient people used for spotting likely outcrops. It was in fact likely that these keen-eyed “first fells-men” used all these methods making trail knaps of rock as they went, some of the early sites identified at Great Langdale were next to Stake Beck.

The Langdale Pikes with the drumlin fields around Stake Beck flowing from centre to left

The Langdale Pikes from the north-west with the drumlin fields around Stake Beck flowing from centre to left

On return to Ruddy Beck it was apparent that where rocky ridges cross the beck there that had been some hammering going that had formed two unnatural notches in the ridge; the rucksack lies in one with the other larger one to its left. There was little water wear apparent and they were well above the water level after a night of heavy rain. This particular site appears to have been overlooked in the surveys undertaken since the stone axe workings were first located in the 1940’s and those in the 1980’s by Reading University and Lancaster University Archaeological Unit; whilst discovering working sites on either side of the Seathwaite Valley on the same strata.

Seathwaite Tuff flaking sites adjacent to Ruddy Beck

Seathwaite Tuff flaking sites adjacent to Ruddy Beck

Using the combination of archaeological evidence and ethnographic analogy Bradley and Edmonds were able to establish that fire had been used to crack the rock prior to extraction at the Neolithic quarry faces on the crags of Pike O’Stickle.This work would have been aided by timber levers and wedges made from wood and cattle bone it is also likely that water was used in this process; these facts are hard to establish from the archaeological record when the acid soils are also taken into account. Now that there would have been a more accessible supply of both timber and water at Great Langdale than the higher, drier and treeless Scafell Pike is perhaps another reason why the quarrying developed on a larger scale here; thus becoming the first Lakeland Industry, it’s a thirsty job being a quarry worker!

Ruddy Beck: vertical faces

Ruddy Beck: vertical faces

Here at Ruddy Beck we can see how the rock fractures off neatly along the bedding planes that have been tilted vertically here, this would make working down the rock into manageable blanks relatively easy. Now whether many of these slabs have been removed by man or nature is hard to say; any spoil that fell into the stream would now be at the valley bottom. However it is quite possible that several may have as we can see flaking scars on the upper surfaces of an in-situ vertical slab adjacent to the right – perhaps like the Dani tribes-men they lit fires against it on stone platforms set in the beck bottom. Were they flaking the rock to divert the water whilst they quarried the rock or just altering the land, are there flaking sites under the turf or is it a trail extraction site? Many questions, further investigations are required!

Pete

Ruddy Beck: conchoidal fracturing on vertical Seathwaite Tuff bedding

Ruddy Beck: vertical shot of conchoidal fracturing on vertical Seathwaite Tuff bedding

Acknowledgements

Heinrich Harrer’s book “I Come From the Stone Age” is a grand read and fantastic photographs of the Dani by Diego Verges can be seen here: http://www.diegoverges.com/blog/?p=103

More about Great Langdale can be read in the excellent volume by Richard  Bradley & Mark Edmonds, “Interpreting the Axe Trade” and Mark Edmonds’ book ” Langdale”. The most recent survey of the area was by Phillip Claris & Jamie Quartermaine, published in 1989 in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 

P.S. As I compose this a collie has been reunited with his keeper, Adam, after four nights lost on Scafell Pike. This has touched a lot of people…and returned from the misty spirit world …the dog god? Welcome back Jasper!

Jasper, Adam and Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team

Jasper, Adam and Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team

Here in Cumbria late September was glorious for the annual C-art fortnight, an event where artists and crafts people open their studios and workshops to the public. This year one art installation was set on top of Scafell Pike, the highest art installation in England. The title was intriguing so this seemed like a good chance to take advantage of the Indian summer and get out on the fells to take a look; it appeared rather roughed up by the elements.

Scafell Pike 24 Sept 14 002

On my walk up here from Sty Head along the Corridor Route I had been thinking about the connections that this installation had to other activities that have taken place here. Over  the millennia this place has seen a variety of “performances” taking place, from the musical “clink-clink” as stone was knapped into stone axes over  5600 years ago to Alice Fancis’  “The Hilltop Rest Hotel …a boutique hotel which provides a welcome break for nature-loving and travel weary birds alike” which I am told was carried up here in procession.  So too the roughly shaped stone axes knapped up here might well have been carried down the mountain in procession, secure in their leather bags or baskets.

Scafell Pike 24 Sept 14 006 a

Like the characters drawn on the hotel wall the hunt for the source of the rock from which stone axes were made  had something of a “Boys Own” adventure about it as archaeologists and climbers scoured the screes for evidence of the prehistoric prospectors.  These axes, found across Britain, were known to be made from volcanic tuff which had its origins in the Cumbrian Fells and can be worked like flint; however they were originally thought to have been made from boulders that were glacially transported further afield.

Scafell Pike Axe factories 105

The first clue of a production site in the Fells was in 1918 when palaeontologist Professor DMS Watson, who was working on fossil plants in the North East’s coal measures, observed the hand of man had been at work on some stone eroding from the peat on Mart Crag, Great Langdale; a small excavation established that it was indeed a small stone axe working site. They were getting warmer, but it was another thirty years before Ulverston couple Brian Bunch and his wife discovered the iconic Stone Axe Factories on Pike O’Stickle whilst on holiday in Langdale. It took several more years for climber and Secretary of the Wasdale Climbing Club, Dick Plint and friends to identify where the first “Fell and Rockers” working sites were on the summit plateau of Scafell Pike, finding roughed-out axes as seen  in the foreground of this picture.

Scafell Pike Axe factories 076

In the period in Britain known as the Neolithic, axe making was likely a right of passage for young people to prove themselves on this wild and barren plateau. Perhaps they slept up here for a night or two but even in summer with the climate a little warmer back then, this would have been a hazardous place to work. Strewn with weathered and fractured rock with hardly any green to be seen, exposed to the elements, heightening the sense of drama with only the elders knowledge of the safe paths avoiding the precipices to guide people back to the security of the valley and their coastal settlements where the axes were finished. Many of the axes found are beautifully polished and unused, ethnographic research in New Guinea has shown that there is a strong element of ritual in the way that stone axes are handled. Thus with Cumbrian axes we find them deposited in bogs and rocky crevices sometimes unused at the end of their or their keepers lives.

Frontispiece

As I linger on the summit around me small performances take place; a man asks me to take his photo as he strikes up a suitable heroic pose, a group takes the inevitable selfie. On just about every day of the year people perform small ceremonies here on the summit cairn of Scafell Pike; from cracking open of a can of beer to the scattering of human ashes that percolate down into the frost shattered rock.

Walking back across Broad Crag I see a newly split block where some 21st century rock prospector had been at work. A fine-grained tuff – people don’t change that much do they?

Pete

Scafell Pike Axe factories 092

Acknowledgements

The C-Art project is run by Eden Arts http://www.c-art.org.uk

Alice Francis can be found at http://www.peoplespalace.net/home.html 

The polished stone axe appears courtesy of Keswick Museum

Further information on the Stone Axe Factory discoveries can be found in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society http://cumbriapast.com/cgi-bin/ms/main.pl?action=transactions

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