ARCHEOLOGISTS have discovered that an artefact found during last year’s dig at Eddisbury Hill is a decorated sandstone boulder dated between the late Neolithic and late Bronze Age.

The old red sandstone boulder, which has multiple engravings on one of its surfaces, was found in the entrance area of Eddisbury Hillfort.

The series of motifs are usually associated with Neolithic or Bronze Age burial ritual found in or close to cairns and barrows.

Experts say its size and shape suggest it could be moved around the immediate landscape.

The rock has cupmarks and a larger mark, which may have been used as a mortar for grinding ingredients.

Dr George Nash, from the University of Bristol, said: “In my view, the date of the Eddisbury Hill boulder is probably middle to late Bronze Age – although one cannot discount an earlier date.

“This assumption is based on many decorated boulders with cupmarks found elsewhere, in particular from northern Britain.

“In comparison to other decorated boulders and stones, the Eddisbury Hill boulder can be considered one of a group of portable stones that contains simple multiple motifs of varying size, a rare occurrence in the northern marches.

“These earlier sites appear to have commanded respect by Iron Age fort builders and users.

“If this is the case, it is conceivable that further decorated stones from Eddisbury Hillfort await future discovery.”