The Magnificent Art of our Ancestors

Prehistoric built or adapted structures, rock carvings or paintings often required enormous physical effort, skill and thought to produce. Remarkably similar forms can be found throughout the world, suggesting common or overlapping societies. They have served and connected cultures over huge periods of time, and still offer themselves up to us today and shaping many landscapes; they have certainly helped shape mine.

During lockdown, I thought a great deal about these prehistoric structures, especially those used for burials as the number of Covid casualties kept on increasing.

Themes and Variations on Megaliths

Megaliths, menhirs, standing stones and cromlech are all terms for large to giant prehistoric or ancient stone monuments. They are found individually or collectively within a landscape in often significant locations that might be related to the astronomical calendar.

Themes and Variations on Cup and Ring carvings

Cup and Ring carvings have been found globally on every continent except Antarctica. How could that be? How to crack their code? Is this a shared & subtle vocabulary?

Carved shapes also include lozenges, chevrons, spirals and grooves. Were they maps for astronomical time keeping, religious or magical ceremonies or to help guide the dead on their final journey? We just don’t know. But what is clear is that they weren’t easy to physically produce, yet similarities exist across the globe. They were made roughly from approximately 4000 to 1500BC, with some far older than that.

Megaliths witness new 3-Tier Lockdown restrictions introduced in England. Everyone confused, my head hurts. These ancient stones – are they laughing, weary, seen it all before... or what?

Cairns, dolmen, quoits and cists are also man-made, megalithic structures with a ‘capstone’ over the top that protected the chambered area below it. These structures were used for burials and might well have originally been entirely covered in earth, creating a large mound, so what we see now through erosion might simply be the stripped back tomb framework.

Dolmen. Formed with several upright megaliths that create a single tomb chamber with the covering cap stone.

A Cist is a prehistoric stone box to house the bones of the dead.

The moment of human conception?

Have I produced a 1960s textile design borrowed from our creative Neolithic ancestors?

Memories of long ago that I so vividly remember - walking across the low, grey, poxed, ancient stone bridge or ‘steps’ in Devon. I was a child and the bridge about 3,000 years. It was as if negotiating the spine of a multi legged prehistoric reptile and I, so small and fearful that it would wake.