Rock art at Ashover primary school

A story of finding or losing?

I've made two visits, in 2001, to the recently 'discovered' rock-art at Ashover primary school in Derbyshire. Why recently-discovered? Well, the story as I've heard it is apparently that in 2000 the school was having part of its playing-field levelled, and considerable quantities of previously-turf-covered rock were removed by a JCB. The contractor left the school a few bits of rock, to be boulders for sitting on in the little garden that the school was creating at the time, in another part of the school grounds. Somebody, weeks later, thought that one of the boulders could do to be moved, and in the course of moving it got turned over.

A teacher realised that the markings on the now-revealed side were not random scratchings. Examination revealed that one other boulder, out of the few they'd been left, had rock-art on too. Images here show how they looked in Autumn 2001.


cup and ring boulder other rock art boulder My second visit, in December 2001, was in the company of a friend who teaches rock art research, and it was a joy to have somebody around who knew what he was talking about... But I left shuddering over how close this came to removal of a previously-unknown link to the past - and pondering what else, potentially, may have been lost to this JCB and is now, presumably, in small bits in some road somewhere, unwittingly forever destroyed, as is the context and specific location of the two boulders that were preserved.

And the rock-art - the two bits left on these rock chunks - is unique. Not only are the two designs very different from each other, they're not -to my untutored eye - like other stuff either. Even the one that looks like simple cups and rings, isn't...

Click on left or right boulder for closeup, or use list below



Please note that if you visit the school today, the boulders have been moved somewhat - but they are still easy to find. Please introduce yourself to the people in the school office, so they know who is wandering around!

The school is very proud of their rock-art, and there are building a 'bronze-age' roundhouse in the grounds nearby the small garden area where the boulders are. This is how in looked in the autumn.

So, what do we do when a school wants to landscape another playing field? What do we do about stuff that is invisible, under turf, and with no evident 'signature' for geophysical or other tests?

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All photographs and text copyright © J Blain, 2002

Pages updated 5th January 2002