About Rock Art

What is Rock Art?

Rock Art are images engraved, drawn or painted on rocks and are found in almost every continent across the globe.  The art all comes from different periods of time around the world, the oldest known cave painting is in Spain and dates to older than 64,000 years – it is a red hand stencil in the Maltravieso cave, Cáceres, Spain and was done by Neanderthals.

In Ireland, there is Megalithic art that dates to between 6400 and 4600 BC and also the open-air North Atlantic rock art dating from 4000 BC to 1200 BC. The Megalithic art at some of the more widely known Irish sites, such as Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Fournocks are in and surround Megalithic Passage Tombs in County Meath and built around 3,200BC which makes them older than the Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in the UK.

The passage tombs have clear astronomical alignments such as the Winter Solstice Sunrise at Newgrange and the Equinox Sunrise at Loughcrew. It is likely these were places of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance.

Megalithic Rock art in Ireland is thought to have been used to track the movements of the sun, planets or stars through the year (Finlay and Harris 2017, 172) The art at each of these sites varies as we will see on the following pages.

This website will explore some pieces of art at some of the different sites and Jacqui will use the art of Batik to put some of these designs on textiles for wall hangings.

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