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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 02:09 GMT
'Invaluable' rock art donation
Roughting Linn, photo by Stan Beckensall.
Rock art at Roughting Linn, near Milfield on the Scottish border.
An archive featuring some of England's finest prehistoric rock art has been handed over to a university in north-east England.

The record of stone carvings aged thousands of years old has been donated by expert Stan Beckensall to the University of Newcastle.

It includes photographs, rubbings, and drawings of the ancient stones, which are to be found in Northumberland.

The archive has taken over 30 years to compile, and has been presented to the university's Museum of Antiquities, which will create a new website to make the work widely accessible.

Northumberland is regarded as having the country's richest collection of rock art, with up to 500 examples still existing in the field and written records of up to 750 panels.

Examples include England's largest such site at Roughting Linn near the Scottish border.

'Invaluable resource'

Project leader Dr Aron Mazel, an archaeologist and research associate with the School of Historical Studies at Newcastle University, said the website will be the most detailed archive of a rock art area in the world.

Dr Mazel said: "Stan's collection is one of the finest and most extensive archives of rock art that exists, and is a invaluable resource.

Rock art drawing, drawing by Stan Beckensall.
Drawing of rock art at Gled Law in Northumberland

"The university feels extremely privileged to have benefited from his many years of hard work spent collecting and analysing this information.

"We are delighted to be able to make it available to a wider audience on the internet."

Like all UK rock art, the Northumberland specimens are in the 'cup and ring' style and nobody knows exactly why they exist.

A typical work of art would feature cups and circles of various sizes carved into a slab of rock.

Stan Beckensall, a retired headteacher who is based in Hexham, Northumberland, is currently revisiting the panels with Dr Mazel to update the archive information.

He said: "Having worked for so long recording prehistoric rock art, it is deeply satisfying to know that my work will be available to everyone in the future."

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