Researchers at Newcastle University have developed a new mobile website designed to help people discover the rich variety of rock art in Northumberland.
© Newcastle University
Archaeologists have worked side-by-side with digital media experts to share information about the famous stones, which can be tricky to locate even with a GPS due to their flat markings, which are hard to spot among thick vegetation and overcast conditions.
“Some of the stones are quite weathered and it’s not obvious unless you know where to look. You could be standing right next to it and not see it,” said Rock Art expert and project leader Dr Aron Mazel.
The mobile website, http://rockartmob.ncl.ac.uk/ features clear and simple navigation to enable anyone to find the rock art panels. Annotated drawings, recorded commentary and photographs can also be downloaded to a mobile phone to enable visitors to see the patterns more easily.
Covering three significant locations in Northumberland: Dod Law and Weetwood Moor, near Wooler, and Lordenshaw, near Rothbury, the mobile site makes use of mobile phone barcodes, known as QR codes, which link into an interactive mobile website.
Rock art ramblers can also type in the website address, which can be found on signs at each location, or scan the QR barcode to be taken to the site automatically.
The carvings are thought to have been made by Neolithic and Early Bronze Age people between 3,500 and 6,000 years ago, but the original meaning of the symbols remains unknown. Dr Mazel added that the fact the geometric patterns were still such a mystery was perfect for engaging people in the project.
“If you look at rock art in many other parts of the world you can identify animals and humans and obtain a sense of what was going on,” he said. “But this is entirely geometric. It’s been here for about 6,000 years and we’re still no nearer to working out exactly what it’s all about. That’s what’s so exciting.”
The new mobile project breathes new life into Stan Beckensall’s extensive archive, which was digitized by Newcastle University as part of the AHRC funded Northumberland Rock Art Project six years ago.
- Visit Rock Art on Mobile Phones at http://rockartmob.ncl.ac.uk
- Visit Rock Art Online at http://rockart.ncl.ac.uk
- Visit England’s Rock Art Online at http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/era