High Banks (03), Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NX 709 489

Archaeology & History

One of the lost High Banks carvings

One of the lost High Banks carvings

The drawing here is another by the legendary Fred Coles, previously unpublished until Maarten van Hoek (1990) brought it out of the dusty archives of the Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright, and described it in his article on prehistoric rosette motifs.  As with its fellow carving of High Banks 2, the location of the site remains unknown; and van Hoek wondered whether these two lost carvings “could have been located at the spot where now the little quarry at High Banks site is found.”  Let’s hope not!

References:

  1. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Galloway and the Isle of Man, Blandford: Poole 1979.
  2. van Hoek, M.A.M., “The Rosette in British and Irish Rock Art,” in Glasgow Archaeological Journal, volume 16, 1990.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.818808, -4.010494 High Banks (3)

High Banks (02), Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NX 709 489

Archaeology & History

One of the lost High Banks carvings

One of the lost High Banks carvings

This impressive carving was found somewhere in the vicinity of the well-known High Banks (01) cup-and-ring menagerie, with its clustered mass of cups and multiple rings.  And the carving we see here possesses something of a similarity with its complex neighbour—but it remains lost.

The drawing was done by our old Scottish megalithomaniac Fred Coles, who discovered the carving when he visited the area around the beginning of the 20th century.  It remained unpublished until fellow rock art student Maarten van Hoek (1990) explored the region and found it hiding away in the archives at the Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright.  The multiple rings of cups surrounding central cups and cup-and-rings are very rare things indeed and this carving is utterly unique in the British Isles.

In Coles’ drawing, as well as the large carving, we have two other elements below, boxed.  These are taken from a notebook found in the same Stewartry Museum and thought to have been done by a Mr G. Hamilton around 1866.  In the lower-box, the double-ringed cup with its surround of two more rings of cup-marks was suggested at first by van Hoek (1990) to possibly be the same carving as that found by Coles.  But he questioned this, sensibly, as the carved design ‘B’,

“comprises 35 cups (its diameter stated to be 21 inches / 51cm), whereas Coles’ diagram of ‘A’ shows only 24 outer cups.  The unknown artist moreover says that, ‘The above (B) is one of a splendid group on Banks Farm.’  So this rosette (B) might be a completely different specimen altogether.”

I have to agree with him.  In the second smaller box, ‘C’, the drawing of the cluster of cup-marks is taken from the same 19th century notebook in which the author said there was a cluster of

“70 to 100 small cups without any apparent system, except being in a group of 7 with cup in the centre—also 3 or 4 circles.”

No other details were given.  Petroglyph explorers in the area should keep their senses peeled when meandering about here, for this and other missing carvings (High Banks 3).

References:

  1. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Galloway and the Isle of Man, Blandford: Poole 1979.
  2. van Hoek, M.A.M., “The Rosette in British and Irish Rock Art,” in Glasgow Archaeological Journal, volume 16, 1990.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.818708, -4.010574 High Banks (2)

St. Patrick’s Well, Portpatrick, Wigtownshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NX 0010 5412

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 60610

Archaeology & History

St Patricks Well on 1849 map

This long-lost  holy well was located on the southeast side of the town.  It was highlighted on the first OS-map in 1849, but its waters were disrupted shortly after this. Daniel Conway (1882) told that,

“It flowed where there was a quarry used for the harbour works. The writer of this notice heard from two men, John Mulholland and Owen Graham, dwelling at Portpatrick in 1860, that they had seen on the rock beside the well what tradition said was the impression of the knees and left hand of St. Patrick.”

When the holy wells writer E.M.H. M’Kerlie (1916) came to visit this site, it was “no longer to be seen.”  He wrote:

“The water which issued from a rock on the south side of the village is now diverted by means of pipes into another course.”

References:

  1. Agnew, Andrew, The Agnews of Lochnaw: The History of the Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway, A. & C. Black: Edinburgh 1864.
  2. Agnew, Andrew, The Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway – volume 1, David Douglas: Edinburgh 1893.
  3. Conway, Daniel, “Holy wells in Wigtonshire,” in Archaeological & Historical Collections Relating to Ayr & Wigton, volume 3, 1882.
  4. Harper, Malcolm MacLachan, Rambles in Galloway, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1876.
  5. M’Kerlie, E.M.H., Pilgrim Spots in Galloway, Sands: Edinburgh 1916.
  6. MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
  7. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
  8. Royal Commission Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in Galloway – County of Wigtown, HMSO: Edinburgh 1912.
  9. Walker, J. Russel, “‘Holy Wells’ in Scotland,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol.17 (New Series, volume 5), 1883.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  54.841853, -5.114569 St. Patrick’s Well

St. Patrick’s Stone, Portpatrick, Wigtownshire

Cup-Marked Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NX 0010 5411

Archaeology & History

Very little is known about this long-lost carving, whose primary information comes from the folklore records.  Apparently it was found on a rock a short distance south of the destroyed St. Patrick’s Well and the two sites seem to have had a traditional relationship with each other.  The carving had a foot-shaped motif on the rock, and a number of other cup-markings; but I can find no account as to whether the ‘foot’ carving possessed ‘toes’, as seen on the impressive Cochno Stone, north of Glasgow.  It may have been little more that the petroglyphic ‘feet’ seen on the recently discovered and aptly-named Footprint Stone, or those on the newly rediscovered Witches Stone; but we cannot discount it being larger, like the Footprint Stone of Dunadd.  If we could locate an early sketch of the stone, all would be revealed!   Sadly, as E.M.H. M’Kerlie (1916) told us,

“this rock was blasted at the time when the government essayed to make the harbour one of great importance”,

several years after the nearby holy well had been re-routed. Fucking idiots!  Any further info on this site would be most welcome.

Folklore

The local story that was told about St. Patrick creating these carvings seems to have been described first of all by Andrew Agnew (1864), who wrote:

“Once, when about to revisit his native land, he crossed the Channel at a stride, leaving the mark of his foot distinctly impressed on one of the rocks of the harbour; unfortunately, in making a new jetty, this interesting memento was destroyed.”

(The mention of the jetty would seem to imply that the carving was closer to the sea than the grid-reference cited above.) In another tale, St. Patrick rested his hand onto the same rock and the marks of his hand and fingers were left there.  This folklore motif is found across the world.  It relates to cosmological creation myths of indigenous spirits and deities in the tribes and cultures who narrate it.  In this instance, the myth of St Patrick replaced a much earlier mythic tale of another giant or deity, whose name we have lost.  Unless, of course, such petroglyphs were still being carved in Galloway by local people in the 4th-5th centuries.

A further tale of St Patrick, at Portpatrick, replaced a quite obvious shamanistic tale. When he journeyed back from Ireland to Galloway, Agnew again told us:

“Having preached to an assembly on the borders of Ayrshire, the barbarous people seized him, and, amidst shouts of savage glee, struck his head from his body in Glenapp.  The good man submitted meekly to the operation; but no sooner was it over than he picked up his own head, and, passing through the crowd, walked back to Portpatrick, but finding no boat ready to sail he boldly breasted the waves and swam across to the opposite shore, where he safely arrived (according to the unanimous testimony of Irishmen innumerable), holding his head between his teeth!”

Legends such this are found in shamanistic pantheons worldwide.  Shamans primary renown is their ability to travel and recover from the Lands of the Dead, always journeying into impossible and inhospitable arenas, with tales of being dismembered, beheaded, dying, and returning to life to help the tribe with whatever it was that required such a task (usually a healing function).  This story of St Patrick – and many other saints – are mere glosses onto the earlier animistic stories, then abridged as being better, more spiritually mature, more egocentric. But their roots are essentially animistic.

References:

  1. Agnew, Andrew, The Agnews of Lochnaw: The History of the Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway, A. & C. Black: Edinburgh 1864.
  2. Agnew, Andrew, The Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway – volume 1, David Douglas: Edinburgh 1893.
  3. Conway, Daniel, “Holy wells in Wigtonshire,” in Archaeological & Historical Collections Relating to Ayr & Wigton, volume 3, 1882.
  4. Harper, Malcolm MacLachan, Rambles in Galloway, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1876.
  5. M’Kerlie, E.M.H., Pilgrim Spots in Galloway, Sands: Edinburgh 1916.
  6. MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
  7. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
  8. Royal Commission Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in Galloway – County of Wigtown, HMSO: Edinburgh 1912.
  9. Walker, J. Russel, “‘Holy Wells’ in Scotland,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol.17 (New Series, volume 5), 1883.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  54.841824, -5.114664 St. Patrick’s Stone

Skip Knowe, Newton, Dumfriesshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NY 1118 9443

Also Known as:

  1. Site no.66950 (Canmore ID)
  2. Skipknowe

Getting Here

Skip Knowe stone
Skip Knowe stone

From junction 16 on the A74(M) turn off an go up the B7076 road, roughly parallel with the motorway, for about 2 miles, turning right – over the A74(M) – until you hit the T-junction by the lovely hamlet of Newton.  At the T-junction turn right again and along down the road for just 300 yards or so.  You’ll see the small Skip Cottage, almost overgrown by the tiny roadside on your right.  Stop here and look into the field across the road.  It’s right in front of you!

Archaeology & History

Looking SW

Despite the size and almost romantic setting of this large standing stone, I can find little by way of early descriptions or archaeological reports here.  Nearly six feet tall with its long axis aligned east-west and in seeming isolation, I find it hard to believe that we have no other sites or relevant data here. Echoing the work by Alexander Thom (1990:2), Aubrey Burl (1993) makes mention of it as one in a possible “pair” of standing stones, with its companion being “18ft (5.5m) away…in roadside bank,” but this is debatable.  This second stone seems as much a part of the old walling.  On purely subjective grounds, it gave the impression of once playing a part in a stone circle — an opinion also held by the Scottish Royal Commission (1920) lads after their visit here in August, 1912.  Does anyone know anything more about this place?

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Dumfries, HMSO: Edinburgh 1920.
  3. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 2, BAR 560: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  55.236095, -3.398240 Skip Knowe