The beautiful cup and ring marks left scattered around Northumberland’s countryside are a mysterious remnant from life in the North of Britain more than 4,000 years ago. They are associated with the “Beaker People”. This name was taken from their distinctive cinerary urns which they used to keep the ashes of their dead. The sites where the cup and rings are found tend to be sandstone outcrops surrounding the Cheviot hills.
There are really two main sources of information about about the cup and ring marks. The first is the work of Stan Beckensall and in particular his book Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings. (He has also written and published many other books on Northumberland’s hidden history).
The second main source is the website which was created by Newcastle University to bring together as much of the current records as possible - http://rockart.ncl.ac.uk/.
An article on ThisisNorthumberland introduces the rock art at Lordenshaws near Rothbury and, inspired by this, I set off to find a site at Roughting Linn, near Wooler.
When you read reports from people who have visited the site they all mention the tranquillity and peace which can be found here. To us it was indeed a special place. We were surprised by the sheer size of the rock. The rock carvings were also larger than we had anticipated.
At the moment the rock is surrounded by young trees and this brings a sheltered feeling, as if it is being protected from the outside world. Judging from the pathway there are still people coming to see it but as long as there are no signposts this will remain an isolated and rather unique part of Northumberland.
I will end my descriptions here and perhaps one day you will discover this place for yourself. However, this quote from Newcastle University illustrates how precious and how unappreciated these magical places are.
“The rock at Roughting Linn has another tale to tell, for it reflects the inexplicable reluctance of the archaeological establishment to look after it. Here we have one of the most important pieces of rock art in the world, and it has a crumbling, ancient, irrelevant notice board of remarkable ugliness. To my (Stan Beckensall) knowledge, in over 20 years there has been only one visit to ascertain the problems of erosion on the site, and no report or action followed.”
How to get to Roughting Linn
Leave Wooler on the B6525 towards Berwick. Pass through Doddington and just before you come to Lowick look for a white bungalow on the right. The bungalow is actually called the “Blue House”. Turn left down a single track road and continue for about a mile or so. You will eventually come to a small forest on your right. Park next to the entrance ( see photo below) and the sandstone rock is just a short walk into the woods. If you go too far you will come to a sign on your right for Roughting Linn farm. You can park here and walk back up the road.
Read more about Northumberland, including photos, places, history and details, here: http://northumberland-tales.com.