Welcome to the Wicklow Rock Art Project
Open-air rock art is a prehistoric art, carved into living rock surfaces, such as outcrops and boulders, within the landscape. The art is abstract and geometric, consisting of cupmarks, radial lines, and cup-and-ring motifs. This makes it difficult to date, but it is thought that it could date back to the Middle Neolithic, more than 5000 years ago. It is found along the Atlantic coastline of Europe, in northwest Iberia, northern Britain, and in various parts of Ireland, including the Garden of Ireland – County Wicklow. Though the symbolism of this art may elude us, it can provide us with glimpses of how prehistoric peoples interacted with their natural and cultural landscapes.
Open-air rock art has received relatively little academic and public attention in Ireland, compared to the more well-known tradition of megalithic art. In many ways it is a hidden art — there is a lack of awareness of its existence and a lack of knowledge of how it should be dealt with when encountered. Many sites are overgrown, some have been damaged due to agricultural and quarrying activity, and others have been moved from their original location.
It seems that the greatest threat that the rock art of Wicklow faces today is for it to remain hidden and unknown. To attempt to address this, the Wicklow Rock Art Project was set up by the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, to explore the potential of photogrammetry and 3D computer models in rock art recording, and to examine ways to protect and promote prehistoric open-air rock art in a sustainable manner. It is hoped that by facilitating virtual access to these sites, the W.R.A.P. website can help to raise the profile of the rock art of Wicklow and ensure its survival for future generations.