Photos: Richard Stroud

Rock Art at Risk

The CSI: Rombalds Moor team successfully recorded nearly 500 examples of rock art across Rombalds Moor. As part of the recording process, they have made an assessment of the current condition of each stone, looking at weathering, biological growth and animal/human impact, and making an assessment of any threats posed. This provides an invaluable benchmark for monitoring change and help to inform on future management.

Exposed stone is susceptible to damage and many different agents can adversely affect the stone bearing the carving. Some of these are natural processes e.g. weathering and lichen, and others the result of human activity. The upland locations of the carved stones are used in a variety of ways, i.e. grazing, shooting, and for leisure. Each of these activities poses a risk to the stone. Where stones are close to, or on paths, their surface can be worn from walkers and cyclists and chipped by horse hooves. Off-road vehicles are becoming an increasing problem in certain areas, and whilst damaging to the stones, they are also a hazard to other users of the moor.

One particular problem is graffiti. This can be in the form of an applied medium, or carving into the stone’s surface. It can be argued that the prehistoric carvings are themselves a form of graffiti, and the graffiti around the Cow and Calf quarry in Ilkley provides fascinating insights into the more recent past. However, it is when older carvings/marks, often scheduled monuments protected by law, are encroached or covered by recent graffiti that there is a problem.

... so what can be done?

Team members are continuing to monitor the condition of the stones as a way of preserving the rock art of Rombalds Moor for future generations to enjoy, and perhaps to puzzle over as we do now (see here for details). In addition, you can report any damage to the Moorwatch website by clicking here.

Movie of the damage to Hangingstones: click here