Rock Outcrop and Bronze Age Carvings
Birchover, Derbyshire OS Map Ref SK235621
OS Maps - Landranger 119 (Buxton & Matlock), Explorer OL24 (The Peak District - White Peak Area)
Rowtor Rocks is a weird and wonderful place. Perched on the western edge of the village of Birchover just above the pub known as the 'Druid Inn' is a bizarre collection of natural and man-made rock features, many believed to have been carved in the 17th century that include a stone armchair, caves, rooms and steps.
Evidence that the rocks here have long been an inspiration comes from a small number of Bronze Age carvings towards the western end of the outcrop. These include a motif that consists of a circle divided into quarters each with a small cup and surrounded by a rosette with a handful of other cups close by. However, the carving is rather worn and it is can be difficult to make out the exact details (photograph above with inset plan of the carvings). A short distance away to the south is an even more badly eroded carving, this time a wavy line and associated cups that has been suggested forms a serpent figure (image below). This motif proved so difficult to see that I wasn't sure I had found it until I compared my photos to others that had previously been published - I could only confirm I was looking at the same rock due to a number of small cups of unknown age that appear close to the serpent itself. There is also a further carving just to the east where a large boulder bears three cup and ring markings - I completely failed to find this although it appears to be the best preserved of the carvings at Rowtor.
Due to the amount of alterations to the rocks here it can be difficult to figure out just what is natural, what is ancient and what is more modern and because of the nearby village and winding road system it is easy to forget that the Bronze Age carvings exist close to several other sites, notably Nine Stone Close (1100 metres northwest), Doll Tor (750 metres northnortheast) and Stanton Moor and the Nine Ladies circle (1900 metres northeast) and must surely be seen as part of this same prehistoric landscape.
The serpent is carved along the top of this boulder...somewhere.
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