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Rock etchings and the written stone

Rock etchings
The symbolic significance of the Beigua massif (in analogy with the area of Monte Bego, with which it shares the origin of its nameplace) is demonstrated by the presence of frequent graffiti. This graffiti is predominantly etched into the tenacious and not easily alterable ophiolite rocks, whose origin is lost in history, from the early Middle Ages, to the Iron Age and finally to the Paleolith. Numerous etchings were found in the upper Orba Valley, near Piampaludo and in the areas of Alpicella and Monte Faie. As a confirmation of the primitive presence of different cultures, an iconographically different panorama was recorded along both sides of the watershed.
On the Tyrrhenian side, spindle-shaped notches called polissoir and cupels and chanels prevail, while symbology that is more articulate and stratified in time can be seen on the Padano side, where crosses, phi anthropomorphics, rayed discs and geometric figures are diffuse. The rock that is most decorated by markings is the “written Stone”, which surfaces, hidden, next to a stream in the woods, near the top of Monte Beigua.

The Written stone
(Iron Age – modern era)
The markings left by the shepherds on the “Pietra scritta” are thought to belong to a type common to many other Italian rock art sites. They could have had, in the most ancient phase, a votive or memorial function for the Beigua shepherds, who gathered around this rock to agree on the management of the grassland, marking their decisions on the stone in this way. In recent times the rock was carved in a form of imitation by travellers and visitors.

The “Rock of the dolmen”
(Neolithic Age – modern era)
The type of scalariform markings present on the rock appears similarly on the decorations of the Square-Mouthed Vase Culture, present in Alpicella, on the sea-facing slope. Successive carving phases allow us to highlight the progression of the cult in this place (probably produced by the lightning strikes on this particular rock) down to the Christian age and recent times.

The “Great Rock”
(Bronze Age – modern era)
This rock contains a series of sharpening steels arranged around a large cup mark, which therefore take the shape of a rayed cup mark. Around these markings there are Christian symbols (crosses) and cup marks which match the type already known in the Beigua area. The carved markings indicate the presence of a place of worship dedicated to a water divinity, continuing into the Christian age, an era in which the shepherds of the Orba valley continued to consider this place as sacred.

The rock of the Clock
(Cannot be dated)
This rock fixed in the earth would presumably have functioned as a “sundial”. According to this hypothesis, the presumed notches made by Man on the sloping face of the boulder located so as to permit the reading of the shadow projected by a large gnomon fixed in the ground, which would then have calculated a solar calendar event, such as the summer solstice.

The rocks carved by polissoirs or sharpening steels
( Neolithic Age)
The finishing of a greenstone axe was achieved with the rubbing of the blade of the axe in the groove of the sharpening steel. This sharpening steel consists substantially of a V-shaped linear marking cut into the rock, deep and clean, wider in the central part and ending with a thin and more superficial marking at the edges where a cup mark was positioned. The sharpening work was entrusted to men who were experts in the work itself. The sharpening of a blade on this rock probably also had a sacred element.

Location: Piampaludo Municipality: Sassello (SV) | View on Map
The great rock
The great rock
(photo by PR Beigua)
Rock etchings
Rock etchings
(photo by PR Beigua)
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