Country diary: these rocks are all trying to tell us something


Ilkey Moor, West Yorkshire: The message in the neolithic cup-and-ring marks is harder to read than Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones

Air races over Ilkley Moor. New rivers leave it as fast as they can, and its trees die young. What endures is rock, and the rocks, it seems, are trying to tell us something. Hundreds of them bear prehistoric “cup-and-ring” marks: circular hollows pecked with tools of harder stone and concentric halos, like Van Gogh stars. The motif recurs so widely in ancient rock art, it’s hard not to conclude that it must represent some universal experience.

Related: Ancient wonders: five little-known archaeological sites in the UK

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