Barry Hill, Alyth, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NO 262 503

Archaeology & History

In an excursion to the Iron Age Hillfort on Barry Hill in the early 1960s by some members of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science, near the very top on its southwestern side they discovered “a small cup marked stone.” (Longworth 1962)  It hasn’t been seen since.  And whether it was in the walling of the fort, or was a carved earthfast rock, they neglected to tell.  When I visited here several years ago I couldn’t find the damn thing and presume that it’s simply been overgrown by the vegetation.  In the event that you manage to rediscover the carving, see if you can catch us a good photo or two and stick ’em on our Facebook group.

References:

  1. Longworth, Ian, “Dundee, Angus,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1962.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Connachan (4), Crieff, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 88028 27394

Getting Here

Connachan (4) looking NW

A couple of miles east of Crieff, take the A822 road from the Gilmerton junction and head up towards the Sma’ Glen.  After literally 1¾ miles (2.8km), on the right-side of the road, you can park-up right opposite the dirt-track that leads up to Connachan Farm a half-mile away.  Keep walking up past the farm to the Connachan (2) petroglyph, and keep to the track uphill for another 600 yards keeping your eyes peeled for a notable singular rock on your left, about 10 yards into the heather.  It’s pretty easy to see.  If the track’s levelled out, you’ve gone too far!

Archaeology & History

Perhaps the most attractive of the Connachan petroglyphs is this curvaceous stone with its archetypal double-ringed motif.  It seems to have been described firstly by Margaret Stewart (1967), whose description (to me at least) doesn’t quite do it justice; but then, they are somewhat troublesome abstract creations most of the time.  She told it to it be,

“a boulder 4’10” x 3’10 x 2′ in height with 6 cups and a grooved circle, which incorporates two more cup marks on its outline.  The grooved circle encloses a gapped circle with another cup mark at its centre.”

Connachan (4), looking N
Main face of the carving

So, nine cups in all: one with the double-ring around it, and two of the cups touching the outer ring.  The cup-marks are ostensibly as Stewart described them, but there are another two or three which I was unable to capture in the photos, as the daylight wasn’t good when we came here.  They’re shallow but very distinct when you see and feel them in the flesh, so to speak, and are closer to the top- and bottom-centre of the stone in the photos here.  Well worth checking out if you’re in the area!

References:

  1. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Connachan, Crieff – Cup Marks and Hut Circle,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1967.

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

Connachan (2), Crieff, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 88421 27057

Getting Here

Connochan (2) carving

A couple of miles east of Crieff, take the A822 road from the Gilmerton junction and head up towards the Sma’ Glen.  After literally 1¾ miles (2.8km), on the right-side of the road, you can park-up right opposite the dirt-track that leads up to Connachan Farm a half-mile away. Keep walking up the track, past the farm and the cottages, and about 300 yards further along, right by the track-side, you’ll see a large stone.  Y’ can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

This carving was seemingly rediscovered by J.H. Maxwell of Crieff in the 1960s, but not in the position it presently occupies by the trackside.  A large body of field clearance rocks lies scattered 60 yards to the west, which is where it was reportedly first seen; which means that, even then, it wasn’t in its original spot.  But at least we can be assured that it came from somewhere very close to its present location, by the trackside.

Close-up of cups & lines
The carving, looking SW

It’s not overly impressive in terms of its design, comprising almost entirely of cup-markings: at least thirty, perhaps as many as thirty-four.  When we visited here recently, Nature wasn’t overly concerned about giving us decent daylight, so we couldn’t see the carving clearly, but it did seem that a carved broken “ring” swerves around at least one of the cups near the middle of the stone.  You can make it out in the photos here (centre-left).  There are what seems to be several other carved lines on different parts of the stone but, again, without decent daylight, we could neither get decent photos, nor do a decent sketch of them.  The Scottish Rock Art Project, who got themselves nigh on a million quid to survey all our carvings up here, neither sketched, photographed or visited this or the others in this Connachan petroglyph cluster, so we’re none the wiser as to its original form.  If you happen to visit this carving when the daylight is being nice, see if you can catch us a good photo or two and stick ’em on our Facebook group.

References:

  1. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Connachan, Crieff – Cup Marks and Hut Circle,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1967.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Glendevon Farm, Aberdalgie, Perth, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 07263 23575

Also Known as:

  1. Hill of Ruthven (Coles 1903)
  2. West Lamberkine (3)

Getting Here

The carving in the walling

Go west out of Perth city centre, along Longcauseway which runs straight into Jeanfield Road, then (keep your eyes peeled) turn left and go along Burghmuir Road to the end where, at the roundabout, go straight across.  100 yards along, a dead straight path starts on the left-side of the road.  Walk 400 yards along here, cross the road, keep straight on the path (called Old Gallows Road) into the trees and a half-mile on you reach a large pylon on your right; but walk to your immediate left here and after 25 yards go through the gate on your left. In this field, 100 yards to the south you’ll see a tree inside a large low stone enclosure.  You need to find the stone that’s the most northerly one in this enclosure walling.

Archaeology & History

It’s debatable as to whether or not this carving is in its original position as it’s located within the outer walling of an enclosure, deemed by Fred Coles (1903) to have been a large garden, yet which has all the hallmarks of being much earlier structure, possibly even Iron Age.  Either way, the cup-and-ring that we see today on the northernmost edge of this old walling, would seem to have been moved into the position it presently occupies.

Close-up of the carving
Position in line of walling

There’s another oddity about it too, as one (or more) of the cup-markings have been incised and worked upon in much more recent centuries, as evidenced by a small thin almost pencil-like cut into the centre of one of them, perhaps with the intention of smashing the stone to pieces.  A geologist or stonemason could perhaps look at this and let us know what they think.  Thankfully the stone and the carved design remains intact!

It was described by the great Fred Coles (1903) in a summary essay of numerous antiquities both here and further afield.  He told us:

Coles (1903) sketch
Close-up of the design

“The cup-and ring-marked stone here was first brought to my notice by Mr David Smith in the summer of 1900.  He then reported that the stone appeared to be one of a large number forming a rough circle in a plantation on the west of this farm.  On reaching the house, I was fortunate in meeting Mr Douglas the tenant, who at once conducted me to the westmost field and showed me the stone.  It is a squarish and not very thick block of ‘bastard whinstone,’ uneven, weathered, and moss-grown. It measures 2 feet 10 inches by 2 feet 8 inches.  As far as examination in the gloom of the clump of trees allowed, I believe I am correct in recording…the seven single cups and the two surrounded by rings as all the definitely artificial marks now visible on this stone.  The  stone at present lies prone upon the curved alignment of many stones which have been set on edge, enclosing an area roughly oval, and measuring in round numbers about 210 feet nearly east and west by 90 or 100 feet north and south.”

There are in fact a few more cups with rings than what Coles described, but they’re difficult to make out.  At least five have rings, possibly six of them.  If you happen to visit this carving when the daylight is being nice, see if you can catch us a good photo or two and stick ’em on our Facebook group.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred,  “Notices of…some Hitherto Undescribed Cup-and-ring-marked Stones,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, volume 37, 1903.

Acknowledgements:  Many 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

Gog and Magog, Loch Ard, Aberfoyle, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NN 4808 0140

Archaeology & History

On the south-side of Loch Ard, just a few yards from the entrance to Rob Roy’s Cave (one of several), right by the water’s edge are the natural upstanding pillars known locally as Gog and Magog.  In Peter Joynson’s (1996) work on Aberfoyle, this site is listed as one in a number of unrecorded cup-and-ring stones in the area.  Discovered by a local lady—”the late Mrs Maitland”—here we have,

“two huge stones about 30ft high known as Gog and Magog situated at the mouth of Blan Ross Bay.  They have numerous cup marks, but sadly have disappeared from view as they have been covered by forestry planting.”

An increasingly annoying problem that many rock art students are having to contend with!  When we visited the site, the tops of these huge stones were, indeed, covered in depths of mosses and pine needles and the carving is hidden from sight. When the trees are felled, let’s hope someone can find it!

Folklore

These natural rocks were said to have been two giants that were turned to stone, the story of which seems to have been forgotten…

References:

  1. Joynson, Peter, Local Past, privately printed: Aberfoyle 1996.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Snake Stone, Hawksworth, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 15078 43546

Getting Here

Snake Stone carving

On the moorland road from Dick Hudson’s pub, head east along the Otley Road for more than 1½ miles, past the T-junction right-turn at Intake Gate (to Hawksworth) and just a quarter-mile further on park-up at the roadside (opposite Reva Reservoir). Walk (north) thru the gate into the field and after 300 yards through another gate into the next field.  From this gate, walk straight north to the Fraggle Rock cup-and-ring stone, then go down the slope NNW for nearly 50 yards and just above the old track you’ll see the edge of this stone peeking out!

Archaeology & History

One of a number of previously unrecorded carvings in these fields, this is a pretty simplistic but unique design. The first thing you’ll notice is at the top-corner of the stone where, like many rocks on these moors, a nicely-worn cup stands out.  Erosion obviously…. or so it first seems. This cup-mark has another two by its side, along the top edge of the stone which, again, initially suggested them to be little more than natural.  But in rolling back the turf this assumption turns out to be wrong; for, along the west-side of the rock you’ll see a notable pecked groove running down to another cup-mark about twelve inches below, kinking slightly just before it reaches that cup. You can see this in the photo. Now, if we return to the prominent cup-mark at the top corner of the stone, in certain light there seems to be a very faint incomplete ring around it – but we can’t say for certain and it needs to be looked at again in better light.

Cups & line clearly visible
Main carved section

The name given to this carving (thanks to Collette Walsh) comes from the wavy lines that go into the middle of the stone from the long pecked line.  These wavy lines are natural, although one portion of them might have been artificially enhanced.  It’s difficult to tell one way or the other and we’ll have to wait for the computer boys to assess this particular ingredient.  Just above these “waves” is a single eroded cup-mark nearly 2-inch across.  And that’s that!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Blarnaboard (3), Gartmore, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 51084 97979

Getting Here

Blarnaboard (3) carving

On the A81 road from Aberfoyle to Strathblane, about a mile south of Aberfoyle take the tiny right turn (keep your eyes peeled!) to Gartmore.  Along the tiny curving road for exactly 1km (0.61 miles), where the road has straightened out there’s a small dirt-track with a parking spot along it. A few hundred yards along there’s a crossroads of dirt-tracks: walk to your left (SW) for nearly a mile (or exactly 1.5km) keeping your eyes peeled for a small distinct footpath leading down-slope on your left. Walk along this undulating path for just over 200 yards till you go through the gate, then walk immediately to your right down the side of the fence in the field for about 20 yards.  Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Blarnaboard (3), NE-SW

Located on the land of the early bards of Gartmore, we could speculate that those early orators told tales of, and from this old stone—but that’s all it would be: dreamy speculation.  Instead, passing that aside, the petroglyph itself brings us a feast to drool over!

Made up of four distinct carved sections of almost interconnecting rock, this flat thin line of stone is covered with an impressive array of cups and multiple rings.  Running downhill in a northeast to southwest line, it would appear to have been rediscovered by Lorna Main (1988) who subsequently described it in the usual archaeological shorthand, simply telling that,

“There are at last 28 cups, 3 cup and one ring, 4 cup and two rings, 2 cup and three rings, 1 cup and five rings and 1 cup and seven rings.”

Multiple ringed element
Section 1 overview

…But, as usual, there’s much more to be said of it than that.  Of the four sections, we’ll start at the uppermost northeastern section and work down the sloping ridge, looking at the respective symbols as we go.  Section 1 has the largest surface area, but isn’t the most decorated of the bunch.  Nonetheless, what we find here is impressive. About a dozen single cup-marks of various ages are scattered over the surface in what initially seems to be no recognizable order; these are accompanied by two single cup-and-rings: one of which could be said to be of standard size and form, whilst the other has a much larger and broken ring, near the middle of the rock, about 12 inches across.  This larger ring has two or three of the cup-marks incorporated into its outer edges.  The most impressive element of Section 1 is the large multiple-ringed design, five in all, radiating outwards or funneling inwards (depending on what was intended) around a central cup.  The outer ring of this is incomplete.

Impressive cup & 7 rings
Scatter of cups & rings

Section 2 is the most visually impressive of all the Blarnaboard (3) carvings: almost an evolutionary development of what we see on the first part.  A 2-dimensional panorama shows off a distinct cup-and-ring close to the edge of the soil, and there’s a somewhat wonky incomplete cup with double-ring below it.  A very clear cup-mark to the right of this has another faint incomplete double-ring round it—but this is hard to see. The same cannot be said of the cup with seven concentric rings surrounding it! (the outer two of these are incomplete)  As I walked round and round this section, drooling somewhat, it became obvious that a number of well-defined cup-marks had been carved around the outer edges of the rings, deliberately creating an eighth ring comprised purely of cup-marks.  It gave me the impression of it representing heavenly bodies revolving around the central Pole Star; but also of it defining the movement of the Moon through the heavens during a calendar year. (the astronomy of my youth still comes through at times!)

Section 3 carving
Faint double cup-and-ring

By comparison, the third and smallest section of Blarnaboard (3) almost pales into insignificance, possessing a mere cup-and-double-ring—and a  very faint one at that.  From a certain angle it looked like it possessed a third ring, but this was probably more to do with me wanting to see more than there is!  Just below this double-ring, a single cup has what might have once been another incomplete ring round it—but we’d need the computer graphic students among you to suss that bit out!  You can’t make it out on the photos here, sadly…

Section 4 carving
Faint double-arc, lower cup

The fourth section is the most visually unimpressive of the entire cluster and was probably carved much later than the rest.  The poor little fella has just five single cup-marks, with a sixth at the top-corner or northeastern part with what seems to be a small carved double-arc, or partial lozenge, that was started and never finished.

A couple of other exposed sections of stone running a few more yards further down the same line have no carvings on them—but there may well be more to this petroglyph hiding beneath the turf, which covers quite a large area.  I have no doubt that other unrecorded carvings exist in close by, but due to excessive forestry plantations all around here, they’ll either be covered over or will have been destroyed.  Don’t let this put you off looking for others though!

Cup-and-five-rings
Cup-and-seven rings

An interesting feature of this long line of stone is its potential alignment.  When we were photographing the site, a local man came over and got chatting with us.  He knew of the carving and had been here many times and told us that his wife had looked at this one and found it aligned with another cup-and-ring on the south-side of Blarnaboard farm and another one (officially unrecorded) even further along.  I checked this when I got home and found that this long line of petroglyphs did indeed line up with the Blarnaboard farm carving, perfectly.  Whether this was intentional and/or possesses an astronomical function, we might never know.  The third carving along the line has yet to be located.  I must emphasize however, that the relationship between earthfast petroglyphs and alignments is very rare and, where found, is little more than fortuitous.  But when we find cup-markings on alignments of standing stones and other prehistoric monuments, the relationship seems to be much more intentional and would have had a specific mythic function.

If y’ follow the fence-line from this carving down to the small burn, on the other side is the much less impressive Blarnaboard (2) cup-marked stone.

References:

  1. Main, L., “Blarnaboard (Aberfoyle parish), Cup and Ring Marked Outcrop,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1988.

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

Blarnaboard (2), Gartmore, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 50977 97972

Getting Here

Blarnaboard (2) site

Anyone who’s going to visit this carving will be doing so as a result of visiting the impressive Blarnaboard (3) cup-and-ring stone, 115 yards (105m) away.  From Blarnaboard (3), walk down the slope on your right (west), cross the tiny burn and go round to the other side of the small rocky hawthorn-topped hillock just a few yards in front of you.  Fumble about and you’ll find what you’re looking for!

Archaeology & History

It’s possible that there’s more to this carving than meets the eye.  On the west-side of this small rocky rise, along a thin elongated raised section in the stone, a gently meandering line of nine deep cups runs roughly northeast to southwest.  You can’t really miss them as they average some 2 inches across and 1 inch deep, strongly suggesting that they were cut and reworked over and over for a long period of time.

Line of cups, from above
Rough NE-SW alignment

It was first described in distinct brevity by L. Main (1988) who told that, “over a length of 60cm on a north-east facing outcrop are 9 cup marks.”  And, whilst all of the cups are clearly visible, one of them at the edge of the stone has been cut or worked into a natural curved hollow.  You’ll see what I mean when you visit the site (it’s pretty clear in the photos).

Beneath the roots and soil there may well be other cup-markings that are still hiding away on this rocky dome.  I have no doubt that other unrecorded carvings exist in this area, but due to the excessive forestry plantations all around here, they will be covered over or have been destroyed.

References:

  1. Main, L., “Blarnaboard (Drymen parish), Cup Marked Rock,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1988.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

West Cowden Farm, Comrie, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 77451 20648

Getting Here

Cowden Farm cup-marks

From Comrie take the B827 road (towards Braco) out of town and where the fields open up on both sides of you, 400 yards along the straight road you’ll see a large bulky stone right by the roadside (it’s the standing stone known as the Roman Stone). Stop here and look on the ground just a couple of yards past the monolith where, amidst the grasses and mosses, you’ll see this small smooth stone (you might have to roll some of the mosses back to see it properly).

Archaeology & History

More than a hundred years ago when John MacPherson (1896) wrote his essay on the history of this area, he described there being “three large stones, supposed to be the remains of a Druidical temple.”  He was talking about the Roman Stone here, with its two companions—although only the Roman Stone remains upright today. He noted that one of them, on the ground was “a round, flat boulder” which “bears upon its surface cup-marks arranged in irregular concentric circles.”

This seems to have been the first mention of the carving.  Fifteen years later when the great Fred Coles (1911) looked at the same standing stones, he found the adjacent petroglyph to still be in situ, stating that,

“The surface is covered with a group of twenty-two neatly made cups … the majority being about 2 inches in diameter, with a few much smaller. Two cups measure only 1 inch in diameter.”

R.M. Pullar’s 1914 photo
Fred Coles’ 1911 sketch

A few years after this, members of the Perthshire Natural History Society on an excursion to Glen Artney in May 1914, stopped here to have a look at the same standing stones and they also pointed out that one of the stones “lying on the ground…is remarkable for the numerous cup-marks on its surface.”  In truth, it’s not that remarkable compared to some of the other carvings, but it’s still worth checking out when visiting the other sites in the area. Many of the cups that were visible a hundred years back are difficult to make out unless the light is good; and it seems as if some of them have been chipped away, perhaps due to farming activity.

References:

  1. Barclay, W., “Winter Session, 1914-1915,” in Transactions & Proceedings Perthshire Society Natural Science, volume 6, 1919.
  2. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Philips: Crieff 1896.
  4. Mac Pherson, John, “At the Head of Strathearn,” in Hunter’s Chronicles of Strathearn (David Philips: Crieff 1896).

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

West Lamberkine (2), Aberdalgie, Perth, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NO 0654 2296

Archaeology & History

All trace of this carving seems to have gone.  It was first recorded by the great Fred Coles (1903) who found it within a small group of stones, but no one has seen it since.  Unless it’s been shifted into one of the nearby walls, it may have been destroyed.  Coles told us it could be found,

Cole’s 1903 sketch of the carving
Stone ‘A’ is the culprit

“at a point 333 yards east of the farm-steadings, where two hedges meet at right angles.  Four stones…lie close together.  They appear to be all of bastard whinstone.  The middle stone, B, has its longer axis ESE and WNW.  It is only 3in inches thick.  The stones D and C are each 6 inches thick.  No marks are to be seen on any of these.  But on A is the very distinct sculpturing shown in the illustration…unfortunately not complete, owing to the flaking off of large strips of the weathered lower portion of the slab.  There is a strong suggestion of a cist-cover in the shape and size of this stone, which the close proximity of the two other squarer and thinner stones helps to enforce. Though these  stones have been known to the tenant for over thirty years, this is, I believe, the first record made of their position and features.”

The records at Canmore have suggested that this lost carving and the missing petroglyph of West Lamberkine (1) nearby are one and the same.  This is unlikely.  West Lamberkine (1) was described simply as a cup-marked stone, whereas this stone possessed clear identifiable cups and rings.  It would be difficult to make such an elementary mistake.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred,  “Notices of…Some Hitherto Undescribed Cup-and-ring-marked Stones…” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, volume 37, 1903.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian