Balgair Muir Woods, Balfron, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 58763 90113  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

The stone in question
The stone in question

Take the B822 Fintry to Kippen road and just over 2 miles (3.3km) north of Kippen, take the small country lane on your left. Parking is truly troublesome along here, so: nearly half-a-mile along, a road/track on your right takes you into the huge forestry plantation (or ‘tree farm’ as Nina Harris calls them).  Go up here and, when you reach the tree-line, walk along the outer perimeter fence to your left.  Keep walking – and walking – through bog and over fence – keeping all along to the outside of the forest for more than a mile. You eventually reach a rise on the Balfron side with huge views to the west – and just here is an opening into the trees on your right where a long ridge of rock is obvious.  You’re here!

Archaeology & History

Main feature of the carving
Main feature of the carving

Not far from the recently rediscovered Footsteps Stone (coming soon…), this large cup-and-ring carving was found by Paul Hornby on a TNA rock art venture in November 2016 on a journey to the petroglyphs on Balgair Muir, between Balfron and Fintry.  Twas a damn good day indeed!  We’d been up here the previous week, but the grey daylight gave little away.  Upon revisiting the place, Paul eventually called us over and, beneath a mass of fallen tree foliage, the long raised rock gave up its ancient symbols once again.

Very faint partial rings?
Very faint partial cup&rings?
Main feature, looking ENE (photo by Nina Harris)
Main feature, looking ENE (photo by Nina Harris)

Along the main face of the stone are a variety of geophysical undulations and small natural hollows—lots of them!—some of which give the impression of being primitive cup-markings, but they’re more the result of erosion.  However, amidst these are several very possible cup-markings, and some photo-images show that at least one of them has portions of a distinct faint ring around it, possibly two of them.  On the whole however, we’d need a geological specialist to tell us with certainty about the other doubtful ‘cups’ here (TNA neeeeds an in-house crazy geologist into petroglyphs and things!).

The Balguir Moor Woods design
Balgair Muir Woods design
Main feature, looking west
Main feature, looking west

As the rock face slopes down on its northern edges, away from the many natural pits and nodules, Paul uncovered two large incomplete ‘rings’, each with short outer ‘lines’, distinctly carved.  The ‘rings’ are somewhat larger than the average cup-and-ring motifs — but it also appears that at least one of the ‘rings’ is lacking an internal cup-mark.

Large semi-carved 'bowl' (photo by Nina Harris)
Large semi-carved ‘bowl’ (photo by Nina Harris)

On the same piece of rock, several feet to the east and almost covered by an adjacent tree, we also found a large half-natural half-carved ‘bowl’ more than 12 inches (30cm) across with a possible cup-marking near its centre.  Whoever carved this section of the petroglyph has definitely utilised the natural features in the rock and, it seems, may never have finished the work.

We need more visits to this area to find what more lies beneath the fallen forest debris.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to Paul Hornby for uncovering this carving.  Huge thanks also to Nina Harris for her help and some of the photos; and also to Ann Rankin and Mick for all their relative help too.  Until next time…

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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