Sunday, 4 April 2010

The High Places VII: Washbeck Green and BAR 19a, 19c

Washbeck Green was where my first trip to Barningham Moor hit the skids. Visiting in high summer when both bracken and heather where at their thickest it was difficult to spot the boulders amongst the vegetation. I walked and walked for hours, criss-crossing the small section of moor, reading and re-reading my compass, taking bearings from drainage ditches and grouse butts and discovering that there was at least one small quarry pond at the foot of the moor that was not on the OS map but the rock art was nowhere to be seen. I was in the right place, I just couldn’t see for looking.
This time there were no such problems, the bracken was still dormant and the heather was low. I crossed the marshy ground and followed the drainage leat eastwards across the moor until I found the large flat slab with over 44 cup marks that had been my one and only find on my previous visit. This slab, listed as BAR 19c, looks like a storm is peppering the surface of a pond, cup after cup is dotted around the surface. Luckily this slab proved a fixed point for my micro navigations and armed with an eight-figure grid reference for BAR 19a I found it within seconds, some 20 meters off in a north north east direction.
BAR 19a is a small pyramidal shaped glacial erratic with its sloping upper surface decorated with four cup and ring motifs with attached grooves, surrounded by penannular rings. There are also several isolated cups on the panel which is situated close to a prehistoric enclosure wall. This was an exciting find with an intricate design but I was still looking for BAR 19b, a very complex panel comprised of cups, grooves and rings that was discovered under vegetation by Richard Stroud in 2006. This was the panel that had first interested me in Barningham Moor and I had seen several pictures of it on the web, glistening with the water that had been poured over it to bring the incisions into brighter relief. It is a truly spectacular and wonderful piece of art, the meaning of which we will never know and the location of which I seemed destined never to find.

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