Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – NO 18523 54950
Two ways: i) up the A93 road from Blairgowrie, after 5 miles turn right at the Bridge of Cally and up Glen Shee. After another 3½ miles, keep your eyes peeled for the tiny road on the right signposted to the Drumturk Cheese farmshop. Go up this long tiny winding road for a mile up to the cheese place and keep on this road for another 2¼ miles where you can park up near the entrance to the huge wind-farm; or – (ii) from Alyth, go up the long winding tiny Bamff Road and keep to the signposts for Bridge of Cally Glen Shee until, after about 4 miles, you reach the entrance to the windfarm. Walk up the track to the windmills, bearing right at the first junction, then right again at the next one. From here, shortly before the second windmill, walk down into the moor for nearly 200 yards. It’s quite a large stone.
Archaeology & History
This is impressive. Very impressive! Found within a huge mass of other prehistoric sites in the Forest of Alyth, its only known petroglyphic bedfellows—Drumderg (1) nearly 500 yards yards south, and Drumderg (3) 120 yards north—have nothing on this one! Where the others have basic cupmarks, this bears a series of multiple interlocking cup-and-ring designs, some with one ring, others with two, and one with four, albeit incomplete rings.
The design is etched onto the sloping face of a curved triangular ‘female’ stone. An eroded cutting all but separates the two main components of the design, but this cut has within it a distinct singular cup-and-ring almost linking each side together. On one side (which is near the middle of the stone) we have a complex series of multiple cup-and-rings that seem to be sequentially moving and (almost) growing into each other in some form of organic pattern. The bottom of this growth begins from a standard cup-and-ring and runs immediately into a vulva-like slit of a cup-mark surrounded by four incomplete rings. As the photos show, this keeps climbing upwards.
A more simplistic basic design has been etched onto the more western side of the stone, on the other side of the eroded cutting. Two of the cup-marks have rings around them, with one of them seeming to give birth to another upward “growth”, but this time comprising merely of a line of more cups, curving ever-so-gently towards the middle of the stone. Along with this there are also cup-marks on the top ridge of the stone; faint carved lines curve and intersect. Movement seems embedded in this fixed non-linear design. That’s my impression anyhow!
The only literary attention given to the carving seems to have been by the Scottish Royal Commission (1990) lads in one of their Perthshire inventories. It’s simple as always, telling basically,
“this heavily weathered cup-and-ring marked boulder lies 150m south of the hut circles… The carvings are on the southwest face of the boulder and comprise: at least four cups surrounded by single rings; two cups surrounded by triple rings; an oval cup measuring 100mm by 70mm surrounded by four rings; and twenty-two plain cups marks, the largest 60mm in diameter.”
If there’s anything extra that we should puzzle over, it’s this: why do we have such an intricate carving here, living in near isolation in the midst of countless other prehistoric remains? The answer, most likely, is that it’s not alone. I highly suspect that others are waiting to be found up here beneath the endless ocean of heather…
- Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, North-East Perth: An Archaeological Landscape, HMSO: Edinburgh 1990.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian