Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mysterious carved stone at Whitby Abbey

~yesterday, Carolina Cannonball of The Crescat mentioned the Synod of Whitby. We've not had an archeology post in awhile, so this is in honor of CC.
Experts are studying a carved stone recently uncovered on Whitby Abbey Headland in North Yorkshire to see if it represents the first Bronze Age artefact from the site.

St Hild founded an abbey on Whitby Headland in 657AD, which is now an important historical site. However, little was known about the site in the Anglo Saxon period in which it was founded until archaeologists carried out clifftop excavations in 2001 and 2002.

They found signs of industrial activities like glass and lead-making from the Anglian period (7th-9th century), and the first evidence of an Iron Age domestic dwelling on the site, dating from 500BC-100AD.

An archaeological team returned this autumn for a six-week dig, and found an even more intriguing object – a mysterious stone carved with linear markings. Measuring about 40cm by 50cm, it appears to be of the type of Bronze Age carved stones found on the North York Moors in 2003, dating from 2000BC-700BC.

“It’s potentially a very significant find as we have hardly any material from this period in the headland’s past,” said archaeologist Sarah Jennings.

“But we need to wait for detailed analysis before we draw firm conclusions. If it is Bronze Age, then it underlines that the headland has a long history of settlement, well before St Hild founded the Abbey in 657AD.”

The purpose of the stones is not known. It has been suggested that they could have denoted tribal boundaries or have a ritual use. A much more ornate stone found at Fylingdales Moor in 2003 has been likened to Irish grave passage art.
Here's that mysterious stone:

Hmmmmm....looks like someone practiced their chiseling technique on this rock, kind of like the cursive exercises we all did in handwriting, no?

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