Croft Moraig Carving (02), Kenmore, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 79744 47263

Also Known as:

  1. Croft Moraig – Stone D

Getting Here

Follow the same directions for the Croft Moraig stone Circle.  Then check out the largest of the fallen or elongated stones on the northwest side of the ring, with a smoothed sloping surface, just at the side of the overgrown stone platform on which it rests.  Y’ can’t really miss it.

Archaeology & History

When William Gillies (1938) wrote about the carvings at the Croft Moraig stone circle, he told how, previously, Fred Coles,

“noticed that several of the upright stones…show cup-markings on their perpendicular surfaces. Some of these are quite distinct, but others are so worn through weathering that they can only be traced with the fingers.”

Stone D, with cupmarks
Stone D, with faint cups
Close-up of the cupmarks
Close-up of the cupmarks

This is one of them. Barely visible at the best of times, the cup-markings are faded and very hard to see unless daylight conditions are just right. As you can see in the photos, several distinct cup-like impressions are visible, but it only appears that two of them are cup-marks.  The others seem to be more geophysical in nature – but I’d love to be wrong!

At the SSW edge of the circle, 13 yards (11.75m) away, is the Croft Moraig cup-and-ring stone.

Folklore

Stone D on Fred Coles' plan
Stone D on Coles’ plan

The great northern Antiquarian Fred Coles (1910) noted that this particular stone (stone D in his ground-plan of the circle) had “been polished by the sliding of generations of children”.  This playful action on stones elsewhere in the UK and around the world sometimes relates to fertility rites (i.e., the spirit of the stone could imbue increased fertility upon the practitioner), but Mr Coles made no mention of such rituals here.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 44, 1910.
  2. Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.
  3. Yellowlees, Sonia, Cupmarked Stones in Strathtay, Scotland Magazine: Edinburgh 2004.

Acknowledgements:  Many thanks to hardcore crew for our various visits here: to Paul Hornby, Lisa Samson, Fraser Harrick, James Elkington, Penny & Thea Sinclair.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.601843, -3.960361 Croft Moraig Carving (2)

Croft Moraig Carving (01), Kenmore, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 79746 47251

Getting Here

The long cup-marked rock

Follow the same directions for the Croft Moraig stone Circle.  Then check out the elongated stone lying in the grass on the southern edge of the circle.  It’s not that hard to find!

Archaeology & History

Nearly 13 yards (11.75m) south of the faded Croft Moraig 2 carving, this cup-and-ring stone on the SSW edge of Croft Moraig is one of at least four that have been found in this megalithic ring.  It has been suggested that the stone on which the carving is found once stood upright. The earliest account I’ve found of it comes from Alex Hutcheson’s (1889) essay in which he wrote:

“At the south-west side and in the line of the outer circle lies the cupmarked stone. It is a recumbent stone, and like the others in that circle lies with its larger axis in the direction of the encircling line. It measures 6 feet 6 inches long by 2 feet broad, and bears on its surface 23 cups. Two of these are connected by straight channels. The largest cup is 2 inches in ‘diameter and f inch deep. Two of the cups are encircled, each with a concentric ring.  None of the other stones exhibit any cups or other artificial markings.”

Cup-marks pointed out
Fred Coles 1910 drawing

…Although other cup-marks have subsequently been found on other stones within the circle.  Consistent with the location of cup-and-ring marks elsewhere in the country, Hutcheson found the carved rock to be just in front of “a longish low mound of small stones, like an elongated cairn, which might yield something if it were to be searched.”  Very little of this cairn remains today.

When Fred Coles (1910) came to explore Croft Moraig about 20 years later, he could only discern 19 cups on the stone, most of them the same size, “only two of which differ much in diameter and depth from the rest.”  The cup-and-ring that Hutcheson described and the other missing cups had been overgrown by the grasses, Coles said.  When Sonia Yellowlees described the carving in 2004, she said that 21 cups were visible, “one of which is surrounded by a single ring”—which you can clearly see in the photos below.

Carving 1 with cup-and-ring
Close-up of design

When archaeologist Evan Hadingham (1974) looked at this site, he found deposits of quartz here and thought that their presence may have been relevant to the placement of the carving, noting how such a relationship is found at other circles in Scotland.  In more recent years, rock art students Richard Bradley and others have found similar quartz deposits in or around some petroglyphs a few miles from here; as have fellow students Jones, Freedman and o’ Connor (2011) at some of the rock art around Kilmartin.  In my own explorations of the carvings near Stag Cottage, hundreds of quartz chippings were found that had been pecked into the cups and rings.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, Rings of Stone, Frances Lincoln: London 1979.
  2. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 44, 1910.
  3. Hadingham Evan, Ancient Carvings in Britain: A Mystery, Garnstone: London 1974.
  4. Hutcheson, Alexander, “Notes on the Stone Circle near Kenmore,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 23, 1889.
  5. Piggott, Stuart & Simpson, D., “Excavation of a Stone Circle at Croft Moraig, Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 37, 1971.
  6. Yellowlees, Walter, Cupmarked Stones in Strathtay, Scotland Magazine: Edinburgh 2004.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.601737, -3.960305 Croft Moraig Carving (1)