Cat Nab, Brotton, North Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NZ 6692 2154

Archaeology & History

Location on 1930 OS-map

This long lost burial mound was first located by the local antiquarian William Hornsby in the early 20th century.  It had been constructed close to the summit of the prominent rise  of Cat Nab, immediately east above Saltburn.  Its position was shown on the 1930 OS-map of the area.  Destroyed by quarrying, it was thankfully excavated by Hornsby in 1913; and although his finds were never published, he left notes which told us that,

“there were two cremations and the sherds of at least three vessels: a collared urn, a pygmy cup and a vessel with an everted rim.” (Crawford 1980)

Crawford (1980) told that these finds could been seen in the Middlesborough Collection.

References:

  1. Crawford, G.M., Bronze Age Burial Mounds in Cleveland, Cleveland County Council 1980.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks for use of the Ordnance Survey map in this site profile, reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Wester Glentarken (4), St Fillans, Comrie, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 66412 24837

Getting Here

Wester Glentarken (4) in situ

1½ miles out of St Fillans on the A85 road towards Lochearnhead you reach the boating marina by the lochside.  100 yards or so past this, park up.  Cross the road and walk 50 yards to your right then follow the dirt-track up into the trees.  After ⅓-Mile (0.5km) turn left to the old house on your left and follow the green path around it, then around the right-side of the rocky knoll to the Wester Glentarken (1) and (2) carvings. From here walk straight uphill, direct north, past the pylon and onto the rocky outcrop behind the gorse shrubs. You’re here!

Archaeology & History

Away from the edge of this relatively flat rock surface, hemmed in between three geological scars, this decent petroglyph shows its memory to prying eyes.  It was first described by George Currie (2005) as being just “17 cups (and) one pair of cups are linked”, but there are, as usual, more elements to it than that.

Faint cup-&-rings visible

As we can see quite clearly in the photos here, two of the cups possess rings around them.  One of the cup-and-rings near the middle of the mass of cups is complete, with a short line running out of it and into the longest of the natural cracks that frame the design and that runs all the way across the surface of the stone.  This cup-and-ring plays a part in a rough circle of cup-marks surrounding a central cup, with one of the outer cups possessing a companion just outside the ring.  Two cups in this circle are elongated.  There is a possibility that the cup-and-ring I’ve mentioned has another line running from it into the cupmark at the centre of the circle.

On the same side of the long natural crack, outside the circle of cups, is another cup with a faint ring around it.  Tis difficult to say whether or not this was originally complete, but when we zoom in it’s pretty damn close!

Framed secondary cluster
The carving when dry

On the other side of the long natural crack is a haphazard spread of nine more cup-marks, with at least one of them seeming to possess a very faint incomplete ring around it.  You can just make it out in one of the attached photos.  From some angles it seems that two other cups may possess fragments of carved rings around them, but more visits are needed in better light before we can say this with any certainty.  One of the cups in this cluster is elongated, whilst two other cups in this bunch are conjoined.  Another crack to the side of this secondary cluster has one or two more cups cut into it.  Altogether we have between 19 and 21 cups on this petroglyph, with rings around several of them.  Worth checking out when you visit this neck o’ the woods.  And, of course, if you’re a serious rock art researcher, scan the slopes hereby as other carvings yet remain hidden.  You can almost feel them breathing…..

References:

  1. Currie, George, Wester Glentarken, Perth and Kinross (Comrie parish), Cup-marked Rocks,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, volume 6, 2005.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Gala House Museum (2), Galashiels, Selkirkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NT 49165 35897

Archaeology & History

Gala House (2) carving

One of two petroglyphs housed in the Gala House Museum, whose background is somewhat of a mystery.  When the northern antiquarian Paul Hornby visited the museum, his enquiries regarding its history and place of origin drew a blank.  This small squared block of stone has obviously been broken from a larger piece, but the whereabouts of its adjoining fragments are unknown.  The section that remains that we see here is somewhat more complex than it’s companion petroglyph, comprising as it does (in the photo on the right) a concentric cup-and-two-rings,with another arc above it that has a carved line running vertically into it.  An elongated cup-mark sits to the side of this line.  On the lower-left side we can see where a fragment of the stone has been broken off and here is a cup marking with a double arc above it, that may originally have been another cup-and-two rings.  The curious angular lines at the bottom of the stone look like more recent scratches, perhaps from an industrial machine (tractor?) created when the stone was moved from its place of origin.  If anyone knows anything about this carving, please let us know.

Acknowledgments:  Big thanks to Prof Hornby for use of his photo. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Gala House Museum (1), Galashiels, Selkirkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NT 4917 3590

Archaeology & History

Gala House Museum stone

A curious stone, inasmuch as nothing seems to be known about it!  When the northern antiquarian Paul Hornby visited the Gala House Museum he was pleasantly surprised to find this multiple-ringed petroglyph on display.  Upon enquiring as to its history and original location, he was informed that it had been donated locally but nothing was known about it.  Incredible!  One of two carvings in the museum (the origin of the other carving is equally mysterious), this portable petroglyph has three rings surrounding the central cup, which has a short line running out of it and to the edge of the third ring.  The petroglyph may have come out of a nearby prehistoric tomb.  If anyone knows anything about this carving, please let us know.

Acknowledgments:  Big thanks to Prof Hornby for use of his photo. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Wellford, Fern , Angus

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 483 603 (approximation)

Archaeology & History

In an area once teeming with megaliths, this is but one that lost its life in the 19th century.  It would seem that the only reference of its existence—and demise—comes from the pen of the great regional historian Andrew Jervise (1853) who, in a description of the nearby holy well of St Ninian, in a field near Wellford,

“within the last half century there were two or three large rude boulders nearby, which were called Druidical stones.”

References:

  1. Jervise, Andrew, The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, Sutherland & Knox: Edinburgh 1853.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Atis Cross, Flint, Flintshire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SJ 2534 7208

Archaeology & History

Actual location of the cross

This long-gone site, described in the Domesday Record of 1086 as Atiscros Hund, (or “hundred”, which is the word given to an administrative division of land which, at that time, was on the western edge of Cheshire bordering Wales), gained its title from an old English personal name, Æti.  The fact that it stood on an ancient boundary and was included in Domesday, means it would have been a stone cross.  Its location was shown on the 1871 Ordnance Survey map (and several subsequent ones), based on traditional accounts about its position.  The site is still preserved in local street-names.

Referring to the monument itself, Thomas Pennant (1796) said that it still existed in his day, telling that,

“A cross stood there, the pedestal of which I remember to have seen standing. There is a tradition that, in very old times, there stood a large town at this place; and, it is said, the foundations of buildings have been frequently turned up by the plough.”

References:

  1. Dodgson, J.M., The Place-Names of Cheshire – volume 4, Cambridge University Press 1972.
  2. Pennant, Thomas, The History of the Parishes of Whiteford and Holywell, B. & J. White: London 1796.
  3. Taylor, Henry, Historic Notices, with Topographical and other Gleanings Descriptive of the Borough and County-Town of Flint, Elliot Stock: London 1883.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Allt Thorrisdail (1), Torrisdale, Sutherland

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NC 66574 61814

Getting Here

Petroglyph rocks 1 & 2 – with Sarah for size

Roughly halfway between Bettyhill and Tongue on the A836 road, keep your eyes peeled for the sign to Skerray (4 miles) and travel down that road.  About 1¾ mile on, take the tiny lane on your left up the slope for 0.6 miles (1km), and just before the sharp bend in the road (across a small bridge) there’s a gate on your left.  Go thru here and follow the tiny path alongside the burn (stream) westwards for half-a-mile until where the waters become a bog within a wide oval bowl in the landscape.  At the far-side you’ll see two large boulders sat above this watery bowl.  That’s where you need to be!

Archaeology & History

The big fella of the two

This is carving “number one” of two great incised boulders that are sat upon a natural ridge overlooking a dried-up lochan.  An impressive spot that give a thoroughly distinct impression of altar stones above the sunken waters, from whence rites and proclamations were performed.  It has that look and feel about it—and any animist would tell you the same.  My hardcore dreams aside though…

This profile is for the larger of the two boulders that live here.  It has very curious petroglyphic attributes—much like its compatriot—unlike many of those in these northern lands.  The pair of them seem to have been described for the first time in Hew Morrison’s (1883) fine meanderings through the mythic history of the region.  He told that,

“About a mile distant (from Torrisdale) two large cup marked boulders lie on the slope of a hill.  The marks are disposed in groups of one large and nine smaller cups.  On the larger boulder there are two of these groups and seven separate marks.”

There are slightly more than that, and this was pointed out when the Royal Commission (1911) lads came to see it:

“The largest boulder, that situated furthest west, is about 8 feet high and 14 feet in length.  On its south side, chiefly on the flat and less abrupt face of the stone, are groups of cup-marks of from 2in to 3in in diameter, the deepest being about 1in in depth, while a number are now almost obliterated.  The extent of the markings is not very definite, but there appear to be two groups containing about twelve cup-marks each.”

Another chorus of cups
Lichen-dappled cupmarks

But this only tells of half the stone’s symbolic story.  For on the vertical northern face of the rock, from just above ground-level, we have a distinct almost straight line of many cup-marks, going up diagonally, at an angle of about 35º.  I took a number of photos of this aspect of the stone, but the covering of lichens didn’t highlight them clearly at all.  When you’re stood looking at them they stand out like a sore thumb!

I have to be honest and say that I bloody well love this site!  You have to paint the entire environment in the right light, as it was when the stone was first carved, surrounded by the scattered woodland of birch, pines and rowan all across where now we have stunning barren moorlands.  Tis a ritual place indeed – without any shadow of doubt!

References:

  1. Mercer, R.J., Archaeological Field Survey in Northern Scotland 1976-1979, University of Edinburgh 1980.
  2. Morrison, Hew, A Tourist’s Guide to Sutherland and Caithness, D.H. Edwards: Brechin 1883.
  3. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second Report and Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Sarah MacLean for her company and landscape knowledge in visiting this and other nearby antiquarian remains. And to Aisha Domleo, for getting me into this neck o’ the woods.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Brackendale Mills, Thackley, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone (missing):  OS Grid Reference – SE 1687 3868

Archaeology & History

Sketch of the missing cup-marked stone

This carving was originally located somewhere close to the old disused Brackenhall Mills on the edge of Thackley, just before you drop down to Thackley tunnel.  It was uprooted sometime in the 1950s and taken several miles away to the Cartwright Hall Museum at Manningham, Bradford, where it sat outdoors behind some fencing for many a-year, accompanied by the large fossil of an ancient tree.

I first saw it there when I lived close by in 1981, in the days before I had such a thing as a camera.  Hence I only have this scruffy old sketch of the design, which I did without adding any notes to help remind me which carving it was!  So this sketch has sat, all-but-forgotten, on a scrap of paper since then, until I recently sussed out which carving it was!

The stone itself was akin to a very large portable rock, with a simplistic design consisting of at least nine cup-marks cut into one of the rounded faces.  One account of the stone suggested there may have been a possible incomplete ring around one of the cups.  When I went back to see the stone about 20 years ago, it had gone.  So I called into the adjacent museum to inquire what had become of it.  The curator (or whoever it was) that I spoke with told me that the stone had been put into a box and placed in the cellars, but refused to let me see it.  I asked to make an appointment to see the stone and he refused that too.  It has not been seen since.  Does anyone know what’s become of it?

References:

  1. Keighley, J.J., “The Prehistoric Period,” in Faull & Moorhouse’s, West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to AD 1500 (WYMCC: Wakefield 1981).
  2. Yorkshire Observer, January 17, 1953

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

 

Raven Stones (east), Thruscross, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 12000 57932

Getting Here

Ravenstones (east)

Take the A59 road from Harrogate and Skipton and at the very top of the moors near the Gill Head Enclosures, take the small Kex Ghyll road up past the disused quarry works north for a mile or so. At the junction go left for about 1½ miles where, on your left, is Burnt House farm.  A hundred yards past here is a small spot to park on the right-hand side of the road, opposite the gate to Rocking Hall House (make sure you leave enough room for tractors to pass you!).  Across the road is the track to Rocking Hall and, 2 miles along the track, look out for the copse of trees ½-mile NE.  Head towards it and, as you get close to the wall, walk slowly downhill towards the stream where a single block of stone lives.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

Design from above

Rediscovered on Rocking Moor by Rod Chambers on August 15, 2023, this reasonably large sloping block of stone has between 21 and 24 cups cut quite deeply and scattered erratically into it, very similar to one some 200 yards to the northwest (Raven Stones carving 559).  It seems pretty obvious that some of these cups were Nature’s handiwork, but have been modified by human hands.   There’s nothing complex about it, but there may be a semi-circular arc around one of the cups, centre-left of the natural crack that cuts across the top of the stone, but this is very faint and could be just a trick of the eyes.  Going there at sunrise and wetting the stone might tell us for sure.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks to Rod Chambers for use of his photo in this site profile.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Balgay Hill, Dundee, Angus

Cup-and-Ring Stone (removed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 378 308

Archaeology & History

Cup & ring stone of Balgay Hill

This little-known cup-and ring stone was found at ground level sometime around 2003, near the top of Balgay Hill.  A small portable stone that may have been broken from a larger slab, it has what seems to be two if not three cup-and-rings, accompanied by two or three single cup-marks.  One of the rings seems to have a faint line coming out of it.  Unfortunately none of this is clear in the photos I took (the one attached here is the best), as it lives under glass in Dundee Museum, so it was very difficult to get decent images.  It is now housed in the McManus Museum in Dundee (a damn good place, with very helpful staff) and well worth checking out if you’re in the area.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian