Ringstone Carving, Torrisdale Bay, Farr, Sutherland

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NC 691 616 

Getting Here

Ringstone Carving, looking NW

Take the A836 road between Tongue and Bettyhill, turning down at Borgie Bridge for 1.8 miles (2.87km) until you reach the little information sign at the roadside. Walk downhill and cross the little bridge and wander onto the west side of the beach.  You’re likely to end up daydreaming… so once you’ve re-focussed, head into the middle of the beach and walk up the steep-ish sand-banks to your right (south).  Once at the top, you’ll see a gigantic rock—the Ringstone—bigger than a house.  Walk up the hill above this until your reach the rocky plateau where things roughly level out.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

This previously unrecognised carving on the edge of the rocky promontory that drops down to the stunning Torrisdale Bay—above the gigantic and legendary Ringstone boulder—is very much like the curious ‘C’-shaped motif on the Fyfield Down petroglyph, a couple of miles east of Avebury, literally 499 miles (803km) to the south.  Indeed, that’s all I kept thinking about when I found it!

Ringstone carving, looking S

The carving’s nowt special—apart from the fact that it’s seemingly isolated and has no apparent companions nearby.  It’s an incomplete circle, perhaps more like a bell-shape than a circle, about six inches across and seems to have no inner cup-mark.  Its general appearance on the rock surface seems to indicate it was carved by a metal tool, instead of being ‘pecked’—but it’s still very old.  Initially, I wondered whether it was an ichnological fossil or stromatolite—but it isn’t.

(Note that the OS-grid-ref is just a 6-figure one. I was ambling about and didn’t make an exact note of the place, but it won’t take much finding on the rocky levels above the giant Ringstone if you zigzag about. Apologies for the poor photos too, but She was cloudy most of the day.)

Acknowledgments:  Huge thanks to Donna Murray, for putting me up in this part of Paradise.  Cheers Donna.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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