Wednesday, September 9, 2009

rock altar

What a day! We spent all day in the mountains with fantastic weather where we were but thick fog down below us. Nah nah na-na nah! The reason for the trip was to find some new rock carvings and to check out the existence of some we already knew about.

The first lot we looked at had me bricking it just a tad. They were right on the top of an 8 meter high boulder. I don’t like heights. Going up wasn’t a problem, coming down was interesting. The rock is impressive, vertical, isolated, flat on top. An ideal altar. There were supposed to be 6 cup markings up there but comparing those with others in the immediate area we concluded that they were not cup markings at all.

Photo: The rock from the top
Well put it this way, if the ones on the top were cup markings the ones on the nearby rock were too which they weren’t if you see what I mean. This might not be a popular interpretation.

I think the information we have locally about the various carvings in the valleys needs radical re-examination. The onus seemed to be on finding new ones in the past, obviously, not on accurate recording.

I volunteer for the job. Hello! HELLO! Anyone listening, I said I would volunteer! Ach weel.

I spent several hours at a known site the other day and discovered another 2 carvings in addition to the 8 already documented. It took me over an hour feeling over the rock to find the ones already documented and a good while too to find the other two.

The rock

I’ve been researching methods of highlighting the carvings without damaging them and found a Swedish (God I love the Swedes) website which had tested natural chalk in suspension. It is a far better method than stick chalk. I’ve been testing the idea myself and liquid chalk though initially very runny and not very white turns brilliant white when it dries. Stick chalk is extremely persistent and you need a hard brushing with water to get it off which is not good for the carvings. I have been painting the liquid chalk on the carvings, photographing and measuirng and then, with one of these pump pressure spray bottles I spray the chalk off as soon as I have measured and photographed. No brushing, no damage and you don’t even need much pressure and certainly not enough to blow the lichen off. The alkaline of the chalk is not in contact with the lichens long enough to do any damage and everything returns to how it was.

Mind you for all the interest shown by the archeological world in these carvings if they disappeared nobody would probably even notice.

Anyway we went back to take some other photos and hunt around for other sites in the area and lo and behold we found a new site above the first one. Only two carvings so far but a very useful find imo. The Lower carvings are very particular consisting or rings surrounding small cup marks or dashes. All of the rings are closed except 2 that are penannular. Each ring and penannular has a satellite cup marking. Only the two penannulars are not aligned east. In fact the notable thing is that only this rock in the area gets such a good view of the eastern sky. There is also a small south-facing rock shelter below. The thing I found interesting was that though the symbols on the lower rock were aligned perfectly east, the ones on the higher rock weren’t. I take it therefore that the symbols mean something regardless of their alignment. Pretty obvious you might say but it’s something that would not have been obvious if we hadn’t found the higher carvings. I mean as they are aligned on the sun and are similar to solar symbols one might immediately presume that this was part of a sun worship culture, which they still might be, but as the other carvings were not aligned either on the sunrise of sunset the certainty is not there. It’s beginning to look more and more like the symbols are related to families or small groups of people confined to small areas rather than a universal culture as every grouping of carvings, apart from cup markings and crosses, is particular to its own area.

Anyway, I thought I might start a rock carving blog as it’s a subject that fascinates me. I’m slowly re-examining known panels taking measurements and above all alignments (very interesting results so far) and plotting them on the GPS. It seems a pity not to share them as some are very particular.

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