Balbirnie Carving (02), Markinch, Fife

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – NO 2850 0304

Also Known as:

  1. Balfarg
  2. Fif 1b (Morris 1981)

Getting Here

Old photo of the Balbirnie 2 carving

This carved stone is now held in one of the museums. To get a better idea of its original locale, take the directions to reach the Balfarg Stone Circle (from the A92 going north from Glenrothes, turn E onto the country lane to Star and Kennoway. 100 yards on there’s a sign for Balbirnie; turn right here and about 200 yards on, where the road bends right, the circle’s just below you) and look at the small stone-lined tombs (cists), within which this carving was first found.

Archaeology & History

This carving (and its adjacent compatriot) was first found within the Balfarg stone circle that originally stood more than 100 yards northwest of the site it now occupies (at NO 2850 0304). Found inside the edge of another prehistoric stone-lined tomb (cist) within the stone circle, the small elongated stone possessed at least 16 singular cup-marks along one flat face of the rock. Two adjacent cup-marks may be linked by a small line running between them. As you can see in the old photograph here, most of the cups run in two parallel lines, similar to the primary feature found on the more famous Idol Stone on Ilkley Moor.

Described in association with the Balbirnie 1 carving by Ronald Morris (1981) as simply, “a slab in another cist (with) cup-marks,” like its partner just a few yards away this carving was again representative of some important mythic element in the Land of the Dead to the person whose body was laid here.


  1. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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