Written in stone.
Although not specific to henges and standing stones, there are rock engravings throughout Scotland and places like Newfoundland, New Hampshire, and other areas which could provide a link to our past.
These can be found in and around henges and stone circles. They can also be found in a lonely outcropping of rock in seemingly random locations. Random, because we don’t always know what they are for. Their creators did not create these simply as graffiti, although there are plenty of prehistoric graffiti artists as well. There is meaning written in the stones. Scientists seek the meaning of the carvings as an insight into the origins of our modern culture and how it was shaped by the past.
Many of these carvings date to prehistoric times. Other markings, such as in Newfoundland and New Hampshire are suspected to be Viking carvings. (More on these in future blogs.)
A new project has been launched to understand the older carvings from the early Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages. This would make them up to 5000 years old. While the stones have been dated, the authors of these carvings are not clearly known. Nor are the messages.
Using 3D scanning, specialists are creating a digital database of about 2000 carvings. These carvings have been found in and around stone circles and they’ve been found in outcroppings and boulders that overlook travel and trade routes. These are likely very similar to road signs. Messages in stone circles could be more of a religious nature for ceremonial and burial locations. Places like Newgrange, in Ireland, are sacred burial sites. (Again, more later.)
The Art and Humanities Research Council has awarded £807,000 to the Historic Environment Scotland to run the project that is called Scotland’s Rock Art. This will be a 5 year project which began in January of this year.
Even though these carvings are written in stone, stone weathers with time. Many of these are in remote locations. Having 3D scans will enable an accessible database by scientists globally.
This project that is set to be launched will help unveil some of the mysteries of the ring and cup symbols. Perhaps it can also help to explain some of the links, like trade routes, between ancient communities across the countries of Europe.
Who knows what a scientist across the globe who has never had access to these carvings might unlock about our history and these mysterious stones.