Going out of Killin towards Kenmore on the A827 road, immediately past the Bridge of Lochay Hotel, turn left. Go down here for just over 2 miles and park-up where a small track turns up to the right (half-mile before the impressive Stag Cottage carvings), close to the riverside and opposite a flat green piece of land. Notice a small cliff-face just over the fence by the road and a small ledge about 3 feet above ground level. That’s yer spot!
Archaeology & History
Deep & shallow cups together
Rediscovered by rock art student George Currie in 2004, this small, little-known and unimpressive cup-marked site was carved onto a rocky ledge just off the roadside down Glen Lochay. Comprising of at least three very distinct cup-marks—two next to each other on the far-right of the ledge and the other on the nose of the rock—at least another three more shallow cups are on the same surface. What looks like an unfinished cup, or deliberately etched crescent-Moon-shaped cup, has been cut into the same ledge a yard to the left of the prime cluster.
In Currie’s (2004) brief description of the site, he told:
“Ledge, 1m above ground level on a rock face; four cups, 50 x 25mm, 45 x 15mm and two at 40 x 10mm.”
Looking down at rock surface
Curious crescent-shape ‘cup’
It’s unusual in that the cups have been carved onto a small ledge that’s too small to stand upright on. Whilst not without parallels, it’s an odd position to find petroglyphs and begs the question, “why here?” when there are other rocks close by that are easier and more accessible.
Currie, George, “Falls of Lochay (Killin parish): Cup-Marked Rocks”, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, volume 5, 2004.
There is no written history of this site; only the quiet murmurings of a few locals whose families go back to when the english came and destroyed the people and their lives in the 18th and 19th century in the ethnic cleansing we known as The Clearances. As with the Darach nan Sith (the Oak of the Fairies) a few miles away, the local traditions were lost, and ancient monuments destroyed. Thankfully, due to the remote location of this site, its status remains….
It is found 2000 feet up, near an old derelict village (english academic romancers term it as ‘sheilings’). An ancient track and stone bridge runs over the burn nearby, place-names evidence tells of a prehistoric tomb a few hundred yards west, and there’s a dispersal of forgotten human evidences scattering the south-side of the mountain all along here. The clach (stone) sits on the very top of a large earthfast rock; is an elongated loaf-sized smooth red-coloured stone, about 14 inches long and 8 inches wide, and of a different type and much heavier than the local rock hereby. It is said to have been a healing stone, used in earlier times to cure warts and other ailments.
My first venture here was, like many in this area, amidst a dreaming. Those who amble the hills properly, know what I mean. I cut across the mountain slopes diagonally, zigzagging as usual, always off-path, resting by mossy stones and drinking the waters here and there. My nose took me to the mass of giant rocks hedging into the higher regions of Allt Ghaordaidh: a pass betwixt the rounded giants of Meall Ghoaordie and Meall Cnap Laraich, where only eagles and Taoist romancers might roam.
The great rock comes upon you pretty easily. Approaching it for the first time I wondered whether there might be petroglyphs on or around it, but the rich depth of lichens and its curious crowning elongated stone stopped any further thought on the matter. The setting, the eagles, the colour of day and the fast waters close by, stole all such thoughts away. In truth I must have walked back and forth and near-slept below the place for an hour or two before I gave way to rational focus! And then my curiosity got even more curious.
“This must be the place,” I mused, several times.
As you can see in the photo, a large natural earthfast boulder, six feet high or more, like a giant Badger Stone covered in centuries of primal lichens, has a large deep red-coloured stone on its very crown. The stone is unlike any of the local rock and is very heavy. I found this out when trying to prize it from its rocky mount, dislodging it slightly from the seeming aeons of vegetation that held it there. But the moment I moved it, just an inch or so above its parent boulder, a quiet voice inside me rose sharply into focus.
“You shouldn’t have done that!”
Quickly I set it back into place, shaking my head at what I’d done. One of those curious feelings you get at these places sometimes wouldn’t leave me, however much I tried to shake it off. …Silly though it may sound, the echoes inside kept saying over and over to me, “you’re gonna get warts now you’ve done that!” Logically, of course, that made no sense whatsoever. I’d only ever had one wart in my life, a couple of decades ago. And yet, a few days later, one of the little blighters emerged on my finger! So there was only one thing for it! If this was a Wart Stone, I should revisit it again and place my afflicted finger back onto the wart and ask it to be taken back into the stone.
A week or so later, I clambered all the way up the mountainside again and asked the place to forgive my stupidity and take back the wart. Apologising to the spirit of the stone, I rubbed my finger on the curious coloured rock and, I have to be honest, didn’t know what to expect.
I spent the next few hours meandering here and there over the hills and cast the thought of the Wart Stone back into my unconscious. But a few days later it had started shrinking – and within a week, had completely gone! This faint relic of an older culture, this Clach na Foinne had performed its old ways again, as in animistic ages past…
Take the same directions as if you’re going to the nearby Moirlanich 2 Carving (about 550 yards down Glen Lochay, on the north side of Killin). In the same field, about 150 yards northwest of Moirlanich 2, you’ll see another large rock close to the wall. That’s the spot!
Archaeology & History
Looking down upon the River Lochay, with views east and west along the glen, here we find a carved rock that’s probably of interest only to the petroglyphic purists amongst you. Two simple cup-markings, about 5 inches apart, can be seen etched into the slightly sloping southern-face of this small rocky outcrop. The sacred mountain of the Creag na Cailleach rises to the immediate north.
From Killin, take the A827 road out of the north side of the village, turning left down Glen Lochay just before the Bridge of Lochay Hotel. 500 yards along the single-track road you’ll reach the electricity station. Just past this, in the field on your right, a large rock stands out just a few yards away. Go through the gate and walk to the spot!
Archaeology & History
This is a simple cup-marked stone, perhaps used in ages gone by as a look-out spot by villagers. Only for the petroglyphic purists amongst you, this carving consists of just five cup-marks on the topmost section of the flat stone, with four of them roughly in a line and a solo one (the most pronounced of the them all) a few inches south of the row. The cup-marked Moirlanich 1 stone can be seen in the same field, 150 yards (137m) to the northwest.
Troublesome to get to unless you’re reasonably fit. Probably the easiest route is to get to the Duncroisk 3 cup-and-ring stone. Keep walking along the riverside, climb over the first tall wooden fence and onwards till you reach the rocky crag reaching into the river Lochay. By whichever means possible, get yourself up and round this crag, but keep by the riverside till you get to the easier walkable rocky outcrop protruding into the river on the other side of the drop. Hereby, on one of the stones, look and you’ll find these faint cup-and-ring symbols.
Archaeology & History
Although this carving was first described in Edward Cormack’s (1952) essay on the prehistoric carvings of the district, they have subsequently proved difficult to locate by the Royal Commission lads and other archaeologists. I’ve been here a few times looking for it and never managed to find it — until last week. When Mr Cormack first told of the design, he said:
“On a smooth rock surface just above the mouth of the small burn running into the Lochay, immediately west of the cup-marked ridge, are two cup-and-ring markings a yard apart. The rings are curiously rough edged, and do not give the same impression of weathering as those on the ridge; possibly they have been silted over shortly after being cut, and exposed again relatively recently.”
A few decades later, Ron Morris (1981) came across the carving, 10 yards “southeast of an elbow of River Lochay”, as he put it. Described as “hard to find”, he went on to give a basic outline of the design as he saw them, telling there to be “2 cups-and-one-ring, both probably complete, up to 16cm (6in) diameters, with radial grooves from cup to ring—up to 1cm deep.” Or more simply, two cup-and-rings, each with a line running from the centre to the surrounding ring.
After trying to find this carving on several occasions, without success (somehow!), it was brought to my attention under the brilliant guidance of a local cat called Flambeau only last week (no lies!). In a venture down to the riverside, the great cat (in tandem with Pip the dog, who also ventures out with me to find ancient sites in this region) got to the riverside on the rock in question and began rolling about in the dust on the stone, mewing and purring away merrily! It was really brilliant to watch. Sincerely heart-warming (soz…but I can’t help it!).
I stepped over and complimented him as he looked superb (hence the photo, above) and he just kept purring. Then, curiously, he stood up and began scratching at the dried earth on the rock, mewing away whilst doing this. Twas very odd indeed. But there, exactly where Flambeau has been scratching and rolling about, it seemed a faint cup-mark was apparent. And such it was! So I got on my knees and began cleaning away the dirt from the rock — and there, right where he’d been purring and playing, was the lost cup-and-ring carving!
Its location would suggest that the carving had some relationship with water: be that the spirit of the place; a good site where fish can be had; a place where someone had drowned, etc. We’ll probably never know… But it’s a beautiful spot, with the impressive Stag Cottage carvings in the adjoining field, and the newly discovered Corrycharmaig East carvings on the other side of the river — plus many others in the area.
The River Lochay where this carving is found is named after a dedication to the Black Goddess, according to Prof. W.J. Watson. (1926) The stream by the side of the carving which runs into the River Lochay has been the place where faerie music has been heard by local people in times past.
Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Corrycharmaig East 3 carving. Walk off the rocky outcrop here, below the tree, and head diagonally across the boggy grasses back towards the River Lochay. After about 50 yards you’ll see a rocky promontory ahead of you that overlooks the very edge of the river, with trees around it. That’s the spot – right on the edge above the river!
Archaeology & History
For me, this was the most intriguing of the newly-found Corrycharmaig East carvings. Intriguing because this is on the same geological ridge as that on which the brilliant Stag Cottage carvings are found, right across on the other side of the river. That singular rise of rock emerging from the field, heading to the river, continues on this side — though is much less conspicuous here, and is much smaller and covered with olde trees and Nature’s marshy greenery. It was this fact which led me to look at these rocks in the first place…wondering if our neolithic ancestors had continued etching their mythographies on the other side of the living waters. And so it turned out.
But don’t expect anything like as impressive as the Stag Cottage carvings. Here instead, as the photos show, are just five distinct cup-markings: three running along one line near the SE side of the stone, with another two on its NW side. The cups are all roughly the same size, being a couple of inches across; one is an inch deep. There may be more beneath the excess of mosses along this and the adjacent rocks, but I didn’t look.
Follow the directions as if you’re visiting the other Corrycharmaig carvings, but as you cross the bridge over the River Lochay, turn immediately left and follow the edge of the river down the field till you reach the fence. Go over here, but then head up the slope away from the river, over another fence up the small grassy hill ahead of you. As you near the very top of the hill, you’ll find the stone in question.
Archaeology & History
Found near to the famous Stag Cottage and Duncroisk carvings, this previously unknown example is found on a small rounded female stone, barely 2 feet by 2 feet across. The most notable feature is the large cup-marking, 2-3 inches wide and half-and-inch deep. When I first found the stone, twas a cloudy grey day and I wasn’t sure whether a small carved arc along one edge of the cup continued into a semi-circle — but as the photo here shows, the cup-mark seems to have a large faint ring going about three-quarters of the way round it. Hopefully I’ll get some better images of the stone when I visit again in the coming weeks.
The stone gave the impression that it belonged in a cairn of sorts, but a brief rummage in the grasses immediately around the rock showed nothing. However, barely 10 yards down the grassy slope there was a small overgrown cairn — though it didn’t seem to have that prehistoric pedigree about it. This carving is one in a group of at least four others—including Corrycharmaig East 3—not previously catalogued. It’s likely that more remain undiscovered on the many other rocks nearby.
Follow the directions from Killin, down Glen Lochay, as if you’re going to the other Corrycharmaig carvings; but as you cross the bridge over the River Lochay, turn immediately left and follow the edge of the river along the field, crossing the first fence, keeping close to the riverside and over and over another fence. Head across the boggy grassland and you’ll see a small green outcrop of rocks just above the tree-line above the river. That’s the spot!
Archaeology & History
Another carving that’s a short distance from the famous Stag Cottage carvings on the opposite side of the river. This lovely moss-covered rocky mass has two sections of cup-markings on it – both of which have proved difficult to photograph because of the vivid green primal cover. It’s found less than 100 yards from the CE04 carving and below the hillock of the CE02 cup-and-ring (as you can see in the photo above).
The rock itself has two carved sections: an upper and lower section, with at least three cup-markings on the lower section and three on the upper portion as well. Some natural geological marks on the lower part of the rock may have been added to, but this is by no means clear. There may well be other elements to this ancient carving, but I wasn’t about to strip all the lovely moss from the stone just to find out. It’s a truly beautiful stone in a gorgeous setting and, despite the day being grey and overcast, I wasn’t about to defile the greenery here. It’s one of a group of at least four carvings east of Corrycharmaig that have not previously been catalogued. Other carvings likely remain to be found close by.
From Killin heading out along the northern Loch Tay road, turn left just past the Bridge of Lochay hotel and go right to the very end of Glen Lochay, just past Kenknock. From here you’ve gotta keep walking along the glen’s dirt-track, and when you go through the third gate along (about a mile), another 100 yards on, keep your eyes peeled for a reasonably large boulder on the left of the track. This is your marker to go up on the right-hand side of the track, where the large stone is about 20 yards up the slope.
Archaeology & History
Not far from a prehistoric hut circle relocated by archaeologist Dugald MacInnes I found this, a previously unrecorded cup-marked stone, when I was ambling about around the top of this beautiful valley last week. It’s only a simple cup-marked stone with two very distinct cups and a probable third in the middle of the well-defined ones. A covering of aged lichen was living on the carved rock and it seemed that there may have been other cups beneath the lichen — but I’ve got a real love of these old plants and wasn’t about to tear them from their homely stone.
There are some other little-known unrecorded human remains all along the slopes above here, which I’ll have a look at when next up this Valley of the Black Goddess…
Dun (lost): OS Grid Reference – NN 539 386 (approximation)
Also Known as:
Archaeology & History
Although this site doesn’t appear in the modern records, the remote situation of the place suggests that some remains of the site could remain and be uncovered by diligent explorers and students. It is one of several lost “circular forts” that were described in William Gillies’ (1938) detailed historical text, that were first highlighted on a map of 1769. His brief description of this old fort told,
“The name ‘Duncroisg’ in Glenlochay, bears witness to the fort that once stood at the southern entrance to Laraig Bhreislich, the pass leading over the mountain to Glenlyon.”
There is is the possibility that some of the remote shielings clustered on the level at Airigh Allt an Eilein and Riabhaich used stones from this ancient site for their construction. On the level to the south of here are the overgrown remains of a prehistoric cairn, not included in archaeological surveys.
Note – Huge sections of prehistoric man-made walling have been located in the area, comprised of gigantic boulders, more reminiscent of enclosure walling. The remains are extensive and huge, but severely overgrown in this remote landscape. Watch This Space!
Although not named specifically, this site would have been another of the Forts of the Fiann, or tribes of the hero-figure, Finn. The valley immediately adjacent to the location of the fort is still known as Fionn Ghleann, with the waters of Allt Fionn Ghleann strongly flowing through.
Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.