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Ketley Crag © Ian Hobson


Under a safe and ancient overhang
stony raindrops
spreading their unfathomable pattern
across the world
across the ages.

Dropped and patiently chipped away
in an unmoving pool of stone.
In an unresolved pond of another reality.

Image and words by Heritage Action members

Dr Stan Beckensall’s account of this remarkable place  (reproduced with his kind permission) is here:

On Chatton Park Hill there is an enormous panel of rock art with a dominant view across the river Till right through to the Cheviot Hills. This site has been known since the 19th century, so it isn’t my discovery, but the complexity of it, the sheer volume of concentric circles, that the largest figure having concentric circles up to about a metre in diameter, is quite breathtaking. But the most important thing about Chatton Park Hill is its position in the landscape, because it is totally dominant as a viewpoint. Now, on the side of that hill is a site that we call Ketley Crag. It’s actually a natural rock overhang, and it was discovered quite recently that the floor was covered with cup and ring marks. And again like the best of the rock art, the people who made these have taken into account the natural formation of the rock itself, the indentations, and they have produced, what is by any standards, a work of art. Now what is interesting thing is that we have several rock shelters in Northumberland which have produced burials of the Early Bronze Age. We can’t actually date rock art itself, and here at Ketley Crag we have something of a mystery because the floor of the rock shelter doesn’t seem to have contained any burials. The site was excavated, incidentally, by badgers who live in the rock behind the rock shelter. In fact when I was recording this site by making a rubbing, I could hear them all busily at work at the back there. There was snow all around me but the floor of the rock shelter was dry, so this site has another important context for me, namely the time when I actually recorded it. Again it’s got a superb view, right down a stream valley running into the River Till and across to the hills.

An audio version can also be accessed here, courtesy Newcastle University:


September 2009

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