Standing Stone In Matfen, Northumberland
A prehistoric standing stone with cup markings.
While Wiltshire can boast the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, Northumberland has its fair share of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments. One of these can be found standing by the side of a road, by the golf course in Matfen.
Sometimes known as the Stob Stone, the standing stone itself is thought to date from the Bronze Age (approximately 3300BC to 1200BC) and stands 2m high (6ft 6in in old money) and 0.5m square (1ft 6in) at the base and 1m wide (3ft 3 in) at the top. It was created from a single piece of stone and why it was placed there is a bit of a mystery, although it does sit relatively close to the River Pont on a spur that juts out into the valley. Could this have been a place of significance 2000 years ago?
While the stone has many deep grooves on its surface caused by centuries of water erosion, if you look closely enough you will notice a number of circular depressions in the rock. These are actually pieces of prehistoric art! They are known as “cup markings” and were pecked into the surface of the rock, they are especially found in the north of England in upland areas and there are a number of examples in Northumberland. Counts on the Matfen Standing Stone have 29 cup markings on the eastern face, 23 on the western face and 5 or 6 on the northern face. They are usually accompanied by one or more rings around the cup although here there appear to be only cups.
Standing stones are rare and while no formal survey has been carried out on numbers, it is estimated that there are up to 250 in the UK, so the Matfen Standing Stone is one of very few in the country. Their rarity gives them great importance in learning more about the prehistoric period and as a result the Matfen Standing Stone is listed as a Scheduled Monument, so NO CLIMBING! If you fancy doing a bit of that, you can pop to Go Ape nearby after marvelling at the stone.
Place contributed by Andrew Gardner
I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.
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A blue stone that has links to the Saxons, the black death, vaccinations and strongman feats!
Quite simply the biggest free standing boulder in Northumberland!