Peace Stone, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 56413 99540

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 44622
  2. Gartrenich
  3. Malling
  4. Menteith 1

Getting Here

Peace Stone cup-and-ring

The quickest way here is bedevilled with troublesome parking (and an unhelpful local at Malling Cottage).  That aside, roughly halfway along the A81 between the Braeval roundabout (near Aberfolye) and Port of Meneith, turn down the track at Malling, following it round for 300 yards through the farm, then another 500 yards or so until you reach a junction with a gate on your left. Walk down the track to your right, roughly alongside the Lake of Menteith, for nearly 700 yards until you reach the gate into the forestry commission land. Go thru the gate and turn immediate right, following the fence for about 200 yards where a clump of stones lives. You’re there!

Archaeology & History

The Peace Stone in 1899

This seemingly isolated petroglyph, known about by local people in the middle of the 19th century and earlier, was said to have been “held in great reverence.”  It was first mentioned in literary accounts in 1866, when the oral traditions about it were more important than any archaeocentricism.  But things change with the times: local people were kicked off their lands, old stories and knowledge of sites were lost, and the ‘discipline’ of archaeology was beginning to look at these curious carved rocks with puzzled minds.

The Peace Stone was described at some length and with considerable accuracy in Mr A.F. Hutchison’s (1893) gazetteer on the ancient stones of Stirlingshire.  It was one of the regions only known petroglyphs at that time and thankfully he gave us a good account of it, saying:

“On the west ride of the Lake of Menteith, about half a mile south from the farm-house of Malling, this stone is to be found, lying at the boundary of the arable land. The ground at the place rises into a slight eminence, on the top of which the stone lay till some seven or eight years ago, when a labourer took it into his head that a stone on which so much labour had evidently been spent must have been intended to cover something valuable. He proceeded to excavate the earth at the side with the intention of getting at the buried treasure, with the result that the stone slipped down into the hole which he had made, where it now lies.  It is quite possible, however, that an interment, if no treasure, might be found beside it on further research. The stone is roughly circular on the surface, measuring about 4 feet in diameter. It is entirely covered with cup and ring marks—22 cups in all—varying in size from an inch to two inches in diameter.  The cups and rings are very symmetrically formed. Nearly in the centre is a fine one surrounded by four circular grooves.  Others have incomplete triple and quadruple circles, with radial duct dividing them. There are other curious curves that sometimes interlace, and near the lower side of the stone are five or six cups with straight channels running out from them over the edge. This is an extremely interesting stone. It is unique in our neighbourhood, so far as I know, in showing these symmetrical carvings. They are now, however, much weather-worn.”

Ron Morris’ sketch & photo

When Alison Young (1938) came to write about the carving, she echoed Hutchison’s thought that the stone might have originally have covered a tomb—but we simply don’t know and it should be treated as guesswork, as there are no known prehistoric tombs anywhere hereby.

Close-up of faded cups

Years passed before the next archaeological visit – by which time the stone had been uprooted and moved, apparently “ploughed up by the Forestry Commission”, and when Ron Morris (1981) last sought it out found that “the stone was un-traceable”.  On a previous visit, before being moved, he found it to be,

“a cup-and-three-rings, 3 cups surrounded by two rings…and 6 cup-and-one-ring.  One of these and 2 cups form part of the design of the cup-and-three-rings.  There were also at least 7 other cups, and a number of grooves, some forming lines from a central cup, or a cup-mark, downhill.  Greatest diameter visible in 1977 30cm (12in) and depth of carving 3cm (1 in)… Many of the carvings are so weathered as to be visible only when wet in early morning or late evening.”

And when we visited the site a few days ago, the stunning sunlight that had followed us all day, sadly faded and disallowed us better photographs of the site.  Huge apologies…. But it’s worth visiting when the daylight’s good, perhaps when you’re exploring the huge number of brilliant petroglyphs at Ballochraggan and Nether Glenny on the hillside 1½ miles immediately north of this “outlier”, as Brouwer & van Veen (2009) called it.

Folklore

In a landscape bedevilled with stunning petroglyphs, traditions and folklore of them is all but gone; but the story of the Peace Stone was thankfully captured in words by Mr Dun (1866), who told us:

There is a curious prophecy connected with a stone situated near the ruins of the chapel of Arnchly, and which is worth recording.  From time immemorial this stone went under the name of the Peace Stone, and it was held in great reverence by the natives.  One Pharic McPharic, a noted Gaelic prophet, foretold that, in the course of time, this stone would be buried underground by two brothers, who, for their indiscretion, were to die childless. By-and-by the stone would rise to the surface, and by the time it was fairly above ground, a battle was to be fought on “Auchveity,” that is, “Betty’s Field.”  The battle was to be long and fierce, until “Gramoch-Cam” of Glenny, that is, “Graham of the one eye,” would sweep from the “Bay-wood” with his clan and decide the contest. After the battle, a large raven was to alight on the stone and drink the blood of the fallen. So much for the prophecy then; now for the fulfilment. About fifty years ago, two brothers (tenants of the farm of Arnchly), finding that the stone interfered with their agricultural labours, made a large trench, and had it put several feet below the surface. Very singular, indeed, both these men, although married, died without leaving any issue. With the labouring of the field for a number of years, the stone has actually made its appearance above ground, and there is at present living a descendant of the Grahams of Glenny who is blind of one eye, and the ravens are daily hovering over the devoted field. Tremble ye natives! and rivals of the “Hero Grahams,” keep an eye on Gramoch-Cam!

The name of Betty’s Field came from an earlier piece of folklore: where a prince out hunting a stag was caught in one of the deep bogs hereby, only to be rescued by a local lass.  In return for her help, she was given a large piece of land which was to bear her name.

References:

  1. Armit, Ian, “The Peace Stone (Port of Menteith parish),” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1998.
  2. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  3. Dun, P., Summer at the Lake of Monteith, James Hedderwick: Glasgow 1866.
  4. Hutchison, A.F., “The Standing Stones and other Rude Monuments of Stirling District,” in Transactions Stirling Natural History & Antiquarian Society, volume 15, 1893.
  5. Hutchison, A.F., The Lake of Menteith: Its Islands and Vicinity with Historical Accounts of the Priory of Inchmahome and the Earldom of Menteith, Stirling 1899.
  6. Mallery, Garrick, “Pictographs of the North American Indians,” in Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, volume 4, 1886.
  7. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  8. van Hoek, Maarten, “Menteith (Port of Menteith parish) Rock Art Sites,” in Discovery Excavation Scotland, 1989.
  9. Young, Alison, “Cup-and ring Markings on Craig Ruenshin, with some Comparative Notes”, in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, vol. 72, 1938.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Peace Stone CR

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Peace Stone CR 56.166808, -4.313964 Peace Stone CR

Nether Glenny (42), Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5643 0229

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 87397

Getting Here

Archaeology & History

The stone in situ

The easiest way to see this is to reach the Nether Glenny 2 Cairn, looking north to the slope a coupla hundred yards away, where you can see a long rock halfway up.  If you can’t see it from here, walk to the impressive Nether Glenny 35 Carving, where the large long slab is much more obvious on the hillside. Walk through the gates to the Nether Glenny 37 carving and then diagonally up to the rock itself.  You can’t really miss it.

This 15-foot long stone halfway up the slope was said by the Royal Commission lads to have “four possible cup-marks” on it, whereas there are at least nine of them and maybe as many as eleven!  Most of them are dead certs as prehistoric etchings, not just ‘possibles’.

Small faint cluster of cups
Some of the faint cups

The more visible cup-marks here are found on the more western end of the stone, just below the grass-line.  The cups here are quite distinct, measuring some two-inches across and nearly half-an-inch deep in two of them.  The others in this section are a little smaller and further down the slope of the rock.  Seemingly not noticed for a long long time however is a small cluster of very faded cups, gathered like a very faint 4-star Pleiades cluster more than halfway along out in the photo here (I hope!).

The biggest of the cups

This entire area is covered with cup-and-ring stones, possessing one of the greatest densities of carvings anywhere in Scotland.When we visited the place last week, Nature was pouring with rain, so we weren’t able to sketch the design.  Something that we’ll hopefully amend in the near future!

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.191525, -4.315283 Netherglenny CR-42

Nether Glenny (37), Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 56322 02162

Getting Here

Another Netherglenny carving

About 1 mile west of where the B8034 meets the A81, between the Port of Menteith and Aberfoyle, a small road on the right (north) at Portend takes you up the single-track road to Upper Glenny.  Go 2-300 yards up past Mondowie Farm and take the next track, left.  Walk up through the gate for nearly 300 yards, going through the gate on your left and onto the fields.  Follow the fence for 300 yards then go through the gate into the next field—past one of the Nether Glenny cairns—and walk across it until you reach an open gate at the far side, just where the hillside goes up.  It’s nearly under your feet!

Archaeology & History

Close-up of the cup&ring

This single cup-and-ring carving, found amidst the massive cluster of both simple and highly complex petroglyphs between Ballochraggan and Upper Glenny, doesn’t seem to have been included in any previous surveys.  It was located during the incredible rains yesterday on Sunday 7 February, wetting this and other rocks, enabling better visibility of otherwise invisible symbols faintly remaining here and on other stones.  The carving appears to have been etched into naturally occurring notches and fissures.  Certainly worth looking at when exploring the other incredible carvings on this hillside.

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.190330, -4.316842 Netherglenny CR-37

Nether Glenny (35), Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 56425 02099

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24041
  2. Menteith 26
  3. Nether Glenny 19

Getting Here

Archaeology & History

Netherglenny 35 stone

Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the nearby Nether Glenny 2 cairn. Once here, walk less than 100 yards further down into the same field, north, roughly parallel with the fencing.  You’ll reach several large rocks, and the elongated one on the slight rise closer to the fence is the one you’re after.  You’ll find it!

This is one in a number of impressive cup-and-ring stones scattered along this grassy ridge overlooking the Lake of Menteith and the Gargunnock Hills to the south.  Petroglyph lovers amongst you will love it!  And it seems that with each and every analysis, the carvings gives up more and more of its ancient symbolism.  When it was first described (in a literary sense) by Maarten van Hoek (1989) he told it to be:

“Irregular outcrop with at least 72 single cups; 3 cups with 2 rings; 6 cups with 1 ring and 2 possible horse-shoe rings only.”

But when Kaledon Naddair (1992) visited the site a few years later he amended this initial description, telling us how,

“Further temporary turf removal extended the total to 124 solo cups, and 9 cups with 1 ring, and 5 cups with 2 rings.”

Cups & rings & cups….
Western side of carving

Naddair’s description is closer to our own inspection, although I think that a small number of the ‘cups’ are natural.  Other features that we’ve found occur on the more western side of the rock.  A faint partial-double-ringed cup is accompanied a few inches away by a carved element that seems to have been unfinished.  An initially indistinct circle, faintly pecked, has internal lines at the quadrants, akin to an early cross form.  A line emerges from this symbol which also seems to have been slightly worked.

Subsequent investigations of this carving has uncovered much more which, to be honest, requires almost an entire re-write of this profile……

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  2. Naddair, Kaledon, “Menteith (Port of Menteith parish): rock carvings”, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1992.
  3. van Hoek, Maarten, “Menteith (Port of Menteith parish) rock art sites”, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1989.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.189796, -4.315185 Netherglenny CR-35

Nether Glenny (28), Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5619 0197

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 78348
  2. Menteith 20 (van Hoek)

Getting Here

Netherglenny 28 carving

Take the same directions to reach the Nether Glenny cairn (about 1 mile west of where the B8034 meets the A81, between the Port of Menteith and Aberfoyle, up a small road on the right [north] at Portend) and walk to its companion cairn 100 yards north. From here, walk west across the field towards the nearby forest.  Nearly 20 yards from the wall and about 35 yards from the corner of the field where it meets the forest, this elongated stone lies amidst the grasses and reeds. You’ll find it.

Archaeology & History

…and from another angle

Looking somewhat like a small fallen standing stone (the Royal Commission list just such a stone nearly 200 yards east), this slim elongated rock was first described in Maarten van Hoek’s Menteith (1989) survey where he told it to be a “loose slab north of the…burn, bears at least thirteen cups.”  But of the “thirteen cups”, only five of these (seven at the most) appear to be man-made.  The others are, quite distinctly, geophysical in origin (and in all probability, the other cups were forged from the geological nicks and dimples).  One of them may have the faint remains of a ring around it, but this is uncertain.  When we visited the site yesterday, the light was poor and although this ‘ring’ seems to show up on a couple of photos, I’m erring on the side of caution.

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  2. van Hoek, Maarten, Menteith (Port of Menteith parish) Rock Art Sites,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1989.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Paul Hornby and Nina Harris for their help and endurance at this site, amidst healthy inclement Scottish February weather!  Another damn good day!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.188589, -4.318910 Netherglenny CR-28

Over Glenny (04), Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference — NN 56991 02834

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 352014

Getting Here

Over Glenny (4) C&R

Along the A81 road from Port of Menteith to Aberfoyle, watch out for the small road in the trees running at an angle sharply uphill, nearly opposite Portend, up to Coldon and higher. Keep going, bearing right past Mondowie and stopping at the dirt-track 100 yards or so further up on the left. Walk up this dirt-track for ⅔ mile, and just before reaching the planted forestry, turn right along another dirt-track. Less than 200 yards along there’s a large sycamore tree, and about 20 yards below it (south) are several open flat rock surfaces.  This is the most westerly of them.

Archaeology & History

…and again

On this small smooth rock surface we find an almost archetypal cup-and-ring stone, whose design consists of a double cup-and-ring and a faint cup-and-ring. The double-ring has several seemingly natural small fissures in the rock running at various angles into the central cup from the outside; and there are two faint ones running from the double-rings outwards to the cup-mark in the single-ring, framing the central cupmark in the middle. It may have been that these scratches on the rock gave rise to the position of the cupmark in this petroglyph.  It’s difficult to see whether or not the single cup-and-ring was ever completed.

Canmore’s description of this petroglyph tells simply: “The larger of the two is 180mm in diameter and has two rings around a cup that is 70mm in diameter and 15mm deep. The smaller has one ring around a cup.”

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  2. Sorowka, P., Davenport, C., & Fairclough, J., “Stirling, Over Glenny,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, vol. 15, 2014.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to Paul Hornby, Lisa Samson & Fraser Harrick for all their help on the day of this visit.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.196563, -4.306437 Over Glenny (4)

Over Glenny (05), Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid — NN 56993 02835

Getting Here

‘Over Glenny 5’ Carving

Along the A81 road from Port of Menteith to Aberfoyle, watch out for the small road in the trees running at an angle sharply uphill, nearly opposite Portend, up to Coldon and higher. Keep going, bearing right past Mondowie and stopping at the dirt-track 100 yards or so further up on the left.  Walk up this dirt-track for ⅔ mile, and just before reaching the planted forestry, turn right along another dirt-track.  Less than 200 yards along there’s a large sycamore tree, and about 20 yards below it (south) is the carving you’re looking for.

Archaeology & History

It’s difficult keeping up with the carvings in this region to the north of the Lake of Menteith, as we find new unrecorded ones on every visit, maintaining the tradition of fellow rock art students Maarten van Hoek, Kaledon Naddair, George Currie, Jan Broewer and the rest—and we know that there’s more of them hidden away.  This one doesn’t seem to be in the Canmore listings, but I put that down to the fact that they’ve got a grid-references wrong somewhere, as it’s pretty plain to see.  Although, to be honest, in the rather vague descriptions of the adjacent carvings (Over Glenny 4 and 6), this carving is in-between them, so you’d expect it to be listed.  Anyway, that aside…

Looking down at the rings
Close-up of faint rings

This long flat exposed rock surface has two primary cup-and-rings upon it: one cup with a double-ring, and the other standard cup-and-ring; there are also two single cup-markings on the stone: one near the middle of the rock and the other on its lower-right side.  The main element is the double-cup-and-ring, which appears to be incomplete—not only in terms of its design, but also, as you can see in the photos, seems unfinished. From the central double-ring, a faint carved line runs out from the centre and into the other faint, incomplete, single cup-and-ring.

Series of metal-sharpening grooves
Arty-farty sketch of the design

At the bottom of the stone (as with several others hereby) a curious set of deep scars have been cut into the edge of the rock.  They’re unmistakable when you see them.  They have probably been created by metal artifacts being sharpened along the bottom of the rock—many many times by the look of it.  These deep cuts reminded me of the more famous Polisher Stone, down Avebury-way.  They may be explained by the fact that, several centuries ago, a battle occurred here and some of the men gathered in the area before the attack.  It would seem as if this and the other cup-and-ring stones were used to sharpen their blades before going into battle.  Whether this was done because of some local lore which imbued these stones with some sort of magick, we do not know.  Folklore here seems curiously scarce (english incomers destroyed local traditions, as writers were telling us in the 19th century), apart from the well-known one of the area being rife with fairies: Robert Kirk’s famous The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries (1691) was written three miles west of here, at Aberfoyle.

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to the rest of the crew: Paul Hornby, Lisa Samson & Fraser Harrick.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.196565, -4.306399 Over Glenny (5)

Mask Stone, Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 56107 01712  –  NEW FIND

Also Known as:

  1. Ballochraggan 12a

Getting Here

Mask Stone, Port of Menteith
Mask Stone, Port of Menteith

Take the same directions to locate the cup-and-ring stone of Ballochraggan 12.  There are several rocks adjacent.  The one immediately next to it, to the northeast, is the one you’re looking for.  Be gentle and careful if you’re gonna look at it — deadly serious, be very careful indeed!

Archaeology & History

One of the most intriguing and most fascinating of all the prehistoric carvings I’ve yet to discover.  Not that this was all my own work. If it hadn’t been for Paul Hornby, we might have simply walked past it as being little more than a single cup-marked stone—and in this area, single cup-marks tend to be little more than geological in nature.

After we’d looked over several of the registered carvings close by, I did my usual meandering back and forth, stroking stones and seeing if there were any carvings that had been missed by previous surveyors.  And in walking past a small piece of smooth rock, a singular cupmark seemed to stand out.  I walked past it, shouting across to my colleague.

“It looks like we’ve got a single cup-mark here Paul,” I said, “with possible half-ring.”  Thankfully Mr Hornby gave it his better attention.

Mask Stone, with faint 'urn'
Mask Stone, with faint ‘urn’
Close-up of features
Close-up of features

The sun was still out and shining across the smooth rock surface, which tends to mean that you’re not seeing any carving on the stone quite as good as it actually is.  Thankfully however, the sun was beginning to get lower and, when this happens, if we wet the rock, any carvings that might be there stand out much better.  And this little fella just seemed to get better and more curious the more attention Paul gave it!

The first thing that became obvious were a series of faint carved lines above the single cup-mark.  Initially these didn’t seem to merit much attention (straight lines on rock are usually more the product of geophysical action than that of humans), but as the rock got wetter, Paul saw something very distinct indeed.

“There’s a face on it!” he exclaimed.  And indeed there was.  A Rorschach response no doubt, but it was still very much like a face.  This looked for all the world akin to the stylised olde English gentry sort of countenance, as in old cartoons.  It was quite ‘distinct’, as such characters themselves insist on being!  Yet around this initial face, more lines seemed to be emerging as the stone gave up more and more of its hidden story.

Standing back from an initial investigation, the carving was seen to consist of a triple-ring, but without the traditional ‘cup’ in its centre.  Instead, the centre was marked simply by a small ‘dot’—perhaps, originally, being a small conglomerate hole formed as a result of another tiny harder fragment of stone falling away from its larger mass.  But a ‘dot’ it was.  The other carved ‘lines’ however, immediately below and attached to the triple-ring, gave us something almost unique—and another strong Rorschach response.  As the photos clearly show, we have a distinct second ‘face’ made up of the same lines but in a quite different form.  This ‘face’ has all the attributes we usually associate with pictures of mythical spirits, demons, or a mask—hence the name!

Paul took a series of fine photos, hoping that he could catch the image that our eyes could clearly see.  And thankfully, his digital camera brought the image to life even better than our eyes did!  The ‘mask’ is comprised of carved lozenge forms, akin to the more decorative ones we find at Kilmartin, and more especially around Newgrange, Ireland.  We sat and talked about this: wondering and working out routes that we’d take over mountains and moors, from Ireland, to Kilmartin, then onto Ballochraggan, etching the same designs onto the rocks hereby and attaching similar mythic notions to them: of shamanism and kingship; underworlds and journeys—paradigms lost and certainly misunderstood in the non-polysemia of many modern academics.

Lozenges and rings
Lozenges and rings

…The stone here was still slightly covered over and, beneath the loose grasses, another feature emerged of another petroglyphic rarity.  At the topmost western side of the  rock a straight line ran across the surface, seemingly marked by the hand of man, with a curious little line almost doubling back on itself for just an inch or so, and then feeling to run down the stone, towards the concentric rings and the face below.  When we stood back and took the photos, this line and its tracer took on a form that I’ve only seen echoed in one of the Netherlargie tombs at Kilmartin, Argyll, 44.4 miles (73km) to the west.  It is very distinct.

Mask Stone04
The beaker, rings & ‘face’

Spuriously ascribed as being ‘axe’ carvings (oh how archaeologists love this Rorschach projection), the Netherlargie North tomb cover-stone in Kilmartin has a series of burial ‘urns’ or beakers carved onto the rock, amidst a scattered collection of cup markings. (Beckensall 2005:73-4; Bradley 1983:92-3; Royal Commission 1971:68-70; Twohig 1972, etc)  Here too at Ballochraggan we find another such symbol, but just a singular example, much larger and more clearly a beaker or urn, as are traditionally found within many old neolithic and Bronze Age tombs; although no tomb is immediately apparent at this Ballochraggan carving.

The entire carving is very faint indeed (you can’t even see it when you’re looking directly at it unless conditions are good) showing that it remained open to the elements for thousands of years.  Other adjacent carvings lack the erosion that we find on this one, even on those which, as archaeologist Lisa Samson said, is “softer sandstone rock than this one”—implying that it’s one of the older carvings in this incredible cluster.

The carving was covered over when we finished examining it, to ensure that Nature’s erosion keeps it alive for just a few more centuries at least, hopefully…..

References:

  1. Beckensall, Stan, The Prehistoric Rock Art of Kilmartin, Kilmartin Trust: Kilmartin 2005.
  2. Bradley, Richard, Altering the Earth, Society of Antiquaries Scotland: Edinburgh 1993.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, HMSO: Edinburgh 1971.
  4. Twohig, Elizabeth Shee, The Megalithic Art of Western Europe, Clarendon: Oxford 1981.

AcknowledgmentsHuge thanks again to Mr Paul Hornby for his considerable help with this site, and for use of his photos.

 © Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Mask Stone

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Mask Stone 56.186226, -4.320063 Mask Stone

Ballochraggan 05, Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 56044 01549

The Ballochraggan 5 stone
The Ballochraggan 5 stone

Also Known as:

  1. Ballochraggan 42 (Brouwer)
  2. Canmore ID 78355
  3. Menteith 5 (van Hoek)

Getting Here

Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the Ballochraggan 12 carving, or nearby standing stone.  Literally 10 yards above the leaning monolith, you’ll see what looks like a glacial rock drop ahead of you (though it’s actually volcanic).  That’s the stone you want!

Archaeology & History

A site that was first described in Maarten von Hoek’s (1989) survey of the area, where he told this carving to be “a loose boulder (that) bears 14 cups, some possibly natural.”  There is very little doubt about it—many of the ‘cups’ on this stone are indeed natural, caused directly by the erosion and subsequent falling of conglomerate rock nodules coming away from the larger rock mass, leaving holes in it that look like cup-marks, but are blatantly natural in origin.

Close-up of the cups - natural or man-made?
Close-up of the cups – natural or man-made?

When Paul Hornby and I visited the site on August 28, 2014, we looked briefly at the stone and then walked on by—but we took some photos, “just in case the archaeo’s have this listed as a monument, ” I said.  And they do!  Several of the ‘cups’ shown in the images here might be man-made.  Might….  It’s difficult to say for sure (are there any geologists in the house?)  Of course, if the faint half-ring below one of these large ‘cups’ turns out to be legitimate, we’ve got a definite here.  But even that looks a bit dodgy!

Despite these marks possibly being geophysical, we must not forget, nor rule out, that this rock had some importance to the neolithic or Bronze Age people who frequented this region.  Natural marks on rock would be emulated by humans sometimes, or seen as elements of spirit in the stone itself—as found all over the world.  A standing stone is only yards away, and we have highly impressive multiple cup-and-ring stones very close by.  The natural ‘cups’ on this and other adjacent rocks may have catalysed the petroglyphs themselves.

Check it out when you visit the other, much more impressive multiple-ringed carvings hereby; but also watch out for the many conglomerate rocks still scattering this hill—some with the softer rounded nodules of rock fallen, leaving cups, and others still in place in quite a few of the stones, awaiting their own geological timing to leave more cup-marks ready for some folk to misread. (I did it misself in younger years!)

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  2. van Hoek, M.A.M.,”Prehistoric Rock Art of Menteith, Central Scotland,” in Forth Naturalist & Historian, volume 15, 1992.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.184675, -4.320880 Ballochraggan (05)

Nether Glenny 02, Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5644 0202

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 87382

Getting Here

Nether Glenny 2 tomb, looking east
Nether Glenny 2 tomb, looking east

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the nearby Nether Glenny 1 cairn; but look into the field immediately north (through the gate on the other side of the fence) about 100 yards away and you’ll see the telling bump rising out of the grasses.

Archaeology & History

Another burial mound of roughly the same size and form as its companion 100 yards to the south, but this one appears to be more intact than its close neighbour.  The top centre of the overgrown cairn seems to have been robbed sometime in the past—perhaps for use in the nearby walling; perhaps by treasure-seekers. We will probably never really know.

Nether Glenny 2 & its close neighbour
Nether Glenny 2 & its close neighbour

Although much overgrown in grasses (with species of shamanic fungi surrounding), the roughly circular tomb is between 3-4 feet high, roughly flat-topped, and measures 12 yards north-south, by 15 yards east-west.  There is no immediate evidence of the internal tomb and it has yet to be satisfactorily excavated.  A small outcrop of stones about 30 yards to the north possesses a highly impressive detailed multi-ringed neolithic petroglyph.

References:

  1. Bailey, G.B., ‘Nether Glenny (Port of Menteith parish)’, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1987.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.189180, -4.315121 Netherglenny cairn (2)