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Farmers' prehistoric rock art 'a waymarker'.

Byline: Sally Williams Farming Editor/Powys Reporter sally.williams@walesonline.co.uk

PREHISTORIC rock art discovered in the Brecon Beacons was probably a primitive waymarker used by early farming communities to help travellers find their way around the ritualised landscape of ancient Britain, experts revealed today.

Geologist Alan Bowring noticed the series of prehistoric engravings which are now thought to have be en made by prehistoric farming communities thousands of years ago.

Mr Bowring said: "I often find myself working and walking in remote locations and encountering hidden features in the landscape of Western Mail 17x26.5cm South and Mid Wales that few others will have seen. But this chance discovery, made whilst looking for clues to the site's exciting geological history, appears to be significant in our understanding of human cultural history in the region."

Dr George Nash, archaeologist and specialist in prehistoric and contemporary art from Bristol University, has confirmed that the stone is the first prehistoric rock-engraved panel recorded in the Brecon Beacons.

The stone is approximately 1.45m long and 0.5m wide and the face contains 12 cupmarks of various shapes and sizes. It is currently lying flat on the ground, but it is possible that the stone was once standing.

Based on the shape of the stone and its engravings, Dr Nash said it probably comes from the early-tomiddle Bronze Age period (circa 2500-1500BC) and served as a waymarker in the form of a standing stone for prehistoric communities navigating around the ritualised landscape more than 2,000 years ago.

Dr Nash said: "We might have been able to predict a discovery of this kind considering the large amount of prehistoric ritual sites in the Brecon Beacons.

"But this is the first evidence of prehistoric rock art to be ever recorded.

There are no other later prehistoric standing stones within this part of Wales that are cupmarked (with small hollows), making this one rather unique."

Dr Nash explained that although cupmarks are the most common later prehistoric rock art form in the British Isles and Europe, their occurrence in Mid Wales is rare. Joe Daggett, countryside manager for the National Trust in Brecon, said: "This is a very exciting and special find. The confidence in its origins is now clear and it fits with the Bronze Age archaeology we have previously recorded in this area.

"We are really keen to get the right protection for this artefact and with National Park Authority support have been liaising with Cadw to start the process."

Volunteers are now being invited |to join a geophysical survey in the area surrounding the stone over the coming weeks, to see if any evidence of past human activity below the surface can be found.

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Prehistoric rock art discovered in the Brecon Beacons

National Trust and Brecon Beacons National Park
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 6, 2014
Words:470
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