Local examples of prehistoric rock art have been recognised as Ancient Monuments by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Groups of patterned panels at Doddington Moor and Weetwood Moor, and examples at Whitsunbank and Ketley Crag near Chatton, are among 17 examples of prehistoric rock art to be scheduled as ancient monuments in the north east following advice from English Heritage and drawing on the work of volunteer researchers.
All display a variety of carvings ranging from cups and rings to the more unusual circular grooves and rosette forms.
Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK’s unique and varied heritage comes in many forms and these prehistoric rock carvings are absolutely worthy of protection, giving an insight into prehistoric society of the time.”
The term ‘prehistoric rock art’ describes a specific style of carvings created in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, around 3800 BC to 1500 BC. These intriguing, abstract carvings share some motifs, with variations around main themes, and are found throughout northern Europe. The example at Ketley Crag is particularly arresting, where the stone base of a rock shelter has been extensively carved with a complex and fluid range of motifs, complete with well preserved pick marks made by the instrument used to make the carvings.
The meaning of the designs remains a mystery but they seem to be abstract and held some unknown, possibly sacred meaning.
The 17 newly designated sites are considered to be particularly well preserved examples, displaying a wide range of motifs and enhancing our knowledge of Prehistoric society.