Rock Carvings on the North York Moors

Pickering's prehistoric rock carving
(or the tale of the 'lost' Kendall stone)

The library of the Yorkshire archaeological society has numerous volumes of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland which date back to the mid 1800's. Volume VI (for the years 1864-1865) contains a lengthy article entitled "On Ancient Sculpturings of Cups and Concentric Rings" by sir James Simpson. In this article he mainly considered examples from among the many carved rocks in Scotland, but in a later chapter he discussed rock carvings from other regions, and in particular one paragraph details a cup and ring marked slab which he had seen in the garden of a Mr Kendall of Pickering, Yorkshire. The slab having been split off from a rock outcrop on the moors above Robin Hoods Bay.
(1860's drawing of the stone shown on right)

Nearly 150 years have passed since that article was published, but what became of this large carved slab? It is not listed in the local sites and monuments register or in the local museums, so perhaps it has been lost or destroyed, having been broken up for the foundations of a patio or some such fate?
Frank Elgee's book "Early man in N.E. Yorkshire" (published in 1930) gives details of the early antiquarians in the region and one of these, - Thomas Kendall of Pickering was apparently a "pot hunter of the worst kind", through his barrow digging activities in the 1850's he a massed a large collection of urns, grave goods and other objects, yet he kept few records of where these items came from or the barrows that he dug. Elgee adds that Kendall's collection eventually passed to the Yorkshire museum in York, so perhaps the carved rock went with the rest of the collection? However enquires to the museum proved unproductive although they did have records of two other carved stones from the Robin Hoods Bay area.

On learning of this "lost stone", Pickering resident Pat O'Halloran speedily made enquiries to trace the property owned by Mr Kendall during the 1850's and found it is now the Park Vale hotel in Pickering, where an inspection of the hotel gardens did locate a large stone slab, but unfortunately this had no carvings on it.

The trail seemed to have gone cold but the search continued and in September 1998 Mr Chris Evans from Brompton near Scarborough, had the oppourtunity to photograph a large cup and ring marked slab which had been shown to him in a private garden in Pickering. Comparing his photograph to the original drawing confirmed this to be the lost "Kendall stone", now located in the detached part of the garden of another residence formally owned by Mr Kendall.
The stones present location and other details have now been passed to the local SMR.




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