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During the surveying of prehistoric rock art at Carr Edge in Northumberland, on 30th October 2005, a previously unrecorded rock art panel was discovered by Yvonne Black, Ian Craig and Derek Gunby, members of Team 4 of the Rock Art Project of Northumberland and Durham.

The panel is an exposure of sandstone rock, 2 m x 1.2 m, upon which is carved a figure of a warrior. The figure holds a sword or spear in his right hand and a shield in his left. There is a sword or knife scabbard at his waist on his right side.

A second figure is located below and to the right of the first. This figure has an almost triangular body and has facial features of eyes and nose. There are several cup and groove marks on the rock and many peck marks.

A carving in the bottom left of the panel may suggest a third, hooded, figure but this requires further investigation. The panel is located on top of a natural mound. It was found close to another new sandstone panel which is carved with cup and groove marks. The mound is in an area of rough pasture with a small wood to the north. It is in an elevated position with a view towards Warden Hill.

Such is the complexity of the panel that it is difficult to ascertain if any of the carvings are contemporary. It is thought that the carvings could range in date from early Iron Age to Romano-British. However, the cup and groove marks may well be earlier than the figure carvings since these are of a more traditional indigenous form.....

Since Carr Edge is just as close in proximity to Warden Hill (Iron Age hill fort) as it is to Hadrian's Wall the geographical location of the warrior figure does not necessarily suggest a Roman date of origin. However, the Stanegate (Roman road) runs between Warden Hill and Carr Edge, so there is an undeniable Roman presence in the area.

The second figure is probably female as it is comparable in form to carvings of the Romano-British triple goddess, examples of which may be seen at Housesteads and Bath. The carving at Bath has not been dated, but is assumed to be Roman. The Deae Matres or the Matronae (the three mother goddesses) together form a unity representing strength, power and fertility.

The origin of the 'power of three' dates to the Iron Age as triplism was prevalent in Celtic religion and the triskele was a recurring motif in Celtic art. Only one female figure is present on the Carr Edge panel but it may be that the carving was not completed. It could, of course, depict only one Celtic mother goddess - The Morrigan. The Morrigan is the unification of a triad of goddesses, Morrigan, Badb and Nemain. She is both fertile and destructive.

The potential hooded figure could represent a genii cucullati (guardian spirits with hooded cloaks). These are also known to represent the male triple god of fertility and frequently appear alongside the triple goddess in Celtic iconography. Both the genii cucullati and the Matronae are known to be protectors of springs and rivers. There is evidence to suggest that a spring once existed close to the figure panel at Carr Edge.

Souce: archaeologydataservice.ac.uk
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