A Mystery Explained…

Northumberland's Prehistoric Rock Art

Synopsis: (from  book preface by The Duke of Northumberland 1983)

It is approximately 4000 years ago that our remote ancestors, who are sometimes known as the ‘Beaker People’ because of the distinctively decorated cinerary urns they fashioned to contain ashes of the dead, incised markings on the sandstone rocks of Northumberland, which are generally but not always associated with burial sites.

It is these markings so similar yet varied in form, and the identification of the places where they may be found with which this interesting book details.

The book brings together not only the results of a long tradition of research in which my predecessors took great interest but also in the personal observations of the author who has devoted many years to the discovery of new examples and the careful assessment of sites and individual stones already recorded.

It is therefore a definitive work and has a great deal to contribute to the international study of rock carvings.

The title refers to ‘a mystery explained’, The mystery is certainly well explained but as the author states it is not solved and there in part lies the fascination of the subject. Clearly the form of the markings is symbolic rather than decorative but the question remains – symbolic of what?


The book is a comprehensive study of the rock art in Northumberland. The types of carvings on the rock and types of locations are explained followed by detailed descriptions of the rocks and where they can be found. The text is accompanied by black and white photographs of the stones and diagrams of the carvings. I found the book a fascinating read especially as, despite trying, I failed miserably to locate any of the stones on my most recent visit to Northumberland.

2 Comments CherryPie on Aug 9th 2017

2 Responses to “Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings by Stan Beckensall”

  1. That looks a super book. Have been doing some research recently in case we ever manage to go to Northumberland and have been reading about the ancient carvings – they look so interesting and would love to see some of them. Hope you find some too one day.

    • CherryPie says:

      I hope you get to visit Northumberland, there is so much to see and do. It has always been one of my favourite holiday destinations and we have visited many times over the years.