Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid-Reference – NS 85725 88008
Archaeology & History
Amidst the cluster of at least twenty petroglyphs found at Castleton, this example close to the fence 60 yards southeast of the farmhouse, wasn’t included in the earlier surveys by Morris (1981) and van Hoek. (1996) At this spot there a large smooth sloping rock broken into separate parts with natural cracks running over it at different angles, partially covered in soil. The stone faces north. On the easternmost side there exists a number of carved symbols, most notable of which is a large double cup-and-ring. You can’t really miss it! The other elements however, can be a little more troublesome to see…
A curious motif is the quite notable ‘cross’ that’s been pecked onto the stone, above the primary cup-and-ring. This cross is probably a later addition to the petroglyph, perhaps added to christianize the original mythic function. From the cross, it looks as if a curved line has been carved down towards the double-ring, nearly linking them together, which could also be viewed as a movement from the pre-christian to the new christian meaning conferred upon the stone. …Just an idea…
It should be noted that a faint cross was also cut into natural cracks in the Castleton 2 carving, 380 yards northwest of here.
There are two more cup-and-rings on the stone, both on the right-hand side of the cross. These were carved quite separately over large periods of time, as evidenced by their degrees of erosion. One cup-and-ring (if you can call it that) is a somewhat erratically executed series of peck-marks that strives to join up with each other, almost failing miserably, creating a somewhat disjointed cup-and-ring. Next to this, but much much fainter, is a cup-and-half-ring that was obviously carved decades, if not centuries earlier. You can just make them out in the two photos here, to the right of the cross.
Another very faint cup-and-half-ring also exists to the left of the primary motif that was only visible from one or two angles when we visited the place the other day, but barely shows up on any of the photos we took. There are a number of single cup-marks, mainly between the double-ring and the smaller cup-and-rings, some of which are probably natural, but several seem to have been worked upon by human hands.
A now-hidden petroglyph—known as “Castleton-3” in the Morris and van Hoek surveys—consisting of multiple cup-and-rings, exists beneath the mass or gorse bushes about forty years to the southwest. We could do with cutting this back so we can see the carving again.
- Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
- van Hoek, M.A.M.,”Prehistoric Rock Art around Castleton Farm, Airth,” in Forth Naturalist & Historian, volume 19, 1996.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian