Although this important group of carvings was the first to be found in the Lake District, it was not the last. The discovery inspired further surveys and, together with a few more chance finds, these have resulted in the identification of around 30 new rock art sites. These include the unusual vertical panel at Copt Howe in Great Langdale with its complex multi-ring motifs, but most have simple scatters of cups ranging in number from half a dozen to more than a hundred. None quite match the extensive, distinctive arrangement of natural and carved marks at Green Rigg, with its rows of cups enclosed by grooves and fissures.
As more examples have been recorded, patterns have emerged regarding their setting in the landscape. As at Patterdale, many are located at the end of one of the long, finger lakes that radiate from the Central Fells. Most are at low elevations, often close to the valley floor, and many are located at the foot of a route leading through the mountains – just as the Patterdale group lies at the base of Kirkstone Pass, Boredale Hause, and several other upland routes. This suggests that the rock art may have had a role in the movement of prehistoric people around the landscape, perhaps marking a transition from travelling on the water to more mountainous environments, and vice versa.
by Kate Sharpe
Beckensall, S. 2007. Prehistoric Rock Art in Cumbria. Landscapes and Monuments. Stroud: Tempus.
Cook, T. 1999. Rock carvings in Patterdale: a Neolithic puzzle. Matterdale Historical and Archaeological Society Transactions 6: 38-42.
Sharpe, K. 2007. Motifs, monuments and mountains: prehistoric rock art in the Cumbrian landscape. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Durham University.
Sharpe, K. 2015. Connecting the dots. Cupules and communication in the English Lake District. Expression 9: 109-16.