Vivien Deacon
Archaeopress, £45
ISBN 978-1789694581
Review Richard Bradley

What are we to make of the strange abstract patterns – cup marks and cups and rings – pecked into boulders and outcrops in upland areas? Can they be compared with similar designs on specialised monuments like stone circles, cists, and megalithic tombs? In that case, their wider significance can be investigated. Or is a clue provided by the choice of rock for these strange designs? If so, they can be treated as parts of the landscape.

Vivien Deacon’s study considers their locations in one of the main concentrations, above Ilkley. Influenced by ethnographic evidence, she suggests that they marked special places and could have been used in special ways. This is why her title refers to ‘holy ground’. Her fieldwork investigated their setting on the moor and suggested that their locations were selected in relation to a series of visually arresting outcrops, which she interprets as ‘natural monuments’. The argument is persuasive and carefully presented. It is worth asking whether the same approach can be taken to other concentrations of rock art.


This review appeared in CA 365. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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