Lochan Hakel (02), Tongue, Sutherland

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NC 56995 52656

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 5375
  2. Lochan Hacoin
  3. Ribigill carving

Getting Here

Carving on the 1878 map

Whether you take the A836 or A838 into Tongue (through truly beautiful wilderness), make sure you go into the village itself—and then keep going, south, along the tiny country road.  Nearly 2½ miles along, note the small loch of Lochan na Cuilce on your right.  A few hundred yards past this, on the other side of the road (barely visible at first) is Lochan Hakel.  Walk around to the south-side of the loch until you find the Lochan Hakel 1 carving.  Then look up at the rock right above you.  That’s the one!

Archaeology & History

In James Simpson’s (1867) primary work on British petroglyphs, he mentions this site as being in the lands of “Ribigill, near Tongue”, although it is a little further to the south.  A certain “Mr Mitchell” had come across it in one of his many rambles in the hills.  Simpson told that he had:

“discovered cups and circles upon a large stone, about nine feet square, apparently lying in its original position, close to the edge of a loch, which contains the remains of an old castle… The surface of the stone shows eighteen or twenty round cup excavations, about an inch deep.  There is a ring of ‘hollow around each cup.'”

Although there aren’t rings around every cup, a great number of clear and impressive rings exist around many of them and are, thankfully, still reasonably visible amidst the mass of lichens.

Around the same time as Mr Simpson’s description, James Horsburgh (1868) wrote about the carving, telling us:

The rock and its island
Some of the cup-and-rings

“On the edge of the precipitous bank of the loch, and exactly opposite the island, there is a large boulder with a flat top, and on this there are a number of cups and rings… This stone is not generally known. Old Ross, the gamekeeper at Tongue, first told me of it, and he and I scraped off the moss and exposed the whole. He thought it was for playing some game. On the left of the stone, on a bit separated by a crack, there is a sort of a figure which appears to have been formed by cutting away the stone around it and leaving it in relief, and also some artificial cutting on the right, a sort of circular groove.”

A better description of the carving came near the beginning of the 20th century, when the Scottish Royal Commission (1911) lads included the site in their inventory.  They told:

From the rock, looking N
The carving from above

“At the S end of Lochan Hacoin, to the SE of the islet on the top of the bank, is a large earth-fast boulder, on the flat upper surface of which are a number of cup and ring marks placed irregularly over it.  The total number of undoubted markings is thirty-four, of which those surrounded by a ring number eleven.  No cup with a double ring round it is observable.  The best defined cup-mark measures 3″ across by 1¼” deep, and the enclosing ring is 7″ in diameter.  Eight of the markings are well defined; the others less noticeable.  At the S end there is a boss or projection, roughly rectangular, measuring 12″ x 6″.  A sketch of this stone, made about the year 1866 by Mr James Horsburgh, is preserved in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.”

Does anyone know if this drawing still exists?

Folklore

In Horsburgh’s essay on the prehistoric remains of the area, he said how local people told that the cup-and-rings “were made by the high heels of a fairy who lived in the castle” on the island of Grianan about 40-50 yards away.

References:

  1. Close-Brooks, Joanna, Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands, HMSO: Edinburgh 1995.
  2. Horsburgh, James, “Notes of Cromlechs, Duns, Hut-circles, Chambered Cairns and other Remains, in the County of Sutherland,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries Scotland, volume 7, 1868.
  3. o’ Reilly, Kevin, What to See Around the Kyle of Tongue, privately printed 1980.
  4. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments & Constructions of Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Sutherland., HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.
  5. Simpson, J.Y., “On Ancient Sculpturings of Cups and Concentric Rings,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 6, 1866.
  6. Simpson, James, Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, etc., Upon Stones and Rocks in Scotland, England and other Countries, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1867.

Acknowledgments:  Huge thanks to Sarah MacLean for guiding me to this carving, and also for the kind use of her photos in this site profile.  Cheers Sarah!  And to Donna Murray again, for putting up with me whilst in the area!  Also – Huge thanks for use of the 1st edition OS-map in this site profile, Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Kinloch Lodge, Tongue, Sutherland

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NC 56201 52713

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 5356
  2. Lochan Hakel A (Gourlay 1996)

Getting Here

Kinloch Lodge carving (photo by Donna Murray)

Whether you take the A836 or A838 into Tongue (through truly beautiful wilderness), make sure you go into the village itself—and then keep going, south, along the tiny country road for 3 miles.  You’ll hopefully have noticed Lochan na Cuilce on your right, then into and past the old trees, Lochan Hakel to your left.  The next small copse on your right is where you stop.  A small pool is yards into the trees, with a single stone between that and the roadside.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Close-up of some cups (photo by Donna Murray)

An apparently isolated cup-marked stone, some 3 feet by 5 feet, that was first described in Morrison’s (1883) meanderings amidst Sutherland’s awesome wilderness.  It’s quite plain compared to Lochan Hakel 2 and many other carvings, simply consisting of 18 cups of various sizes, mainly on the eastern side of the rock.  Sarah MacLean pointed out that a line running along the length of the stone seemed, in parts, to have been artificially enhanced by the hand of man, or woman.  I have to agree with her.

The Royal Commission (1911) lads included this petroglyph in their superb survey of Sutherland, telling:

“On the W. side of the road to Kinloch, about ½ m. N of the bridge over the Kinloch River (Amhainn Ceann Locha), and on the N edge of a gravel pit close to the road, is a large earthfast boulder, 5′ in length as far as exposed, and 3′ 10″ in breadth, showing on its upper surface eighteen cup-marks of various depths, of which the most distinct is towards the N end of the stone, measuring about 3″ in diameter and 1″ in depth.  The whole length of the stone is not visible, but the markings do not seem to extend to the portion covered…”

Stone & mountains together (photo by Donna Murray)
Kevin o’ Reilly’s sketch

Simulacra lovers will love the form of this stone in relation to the background of the mountains, as its shape is echoed in that of the rising hills several miles to the south.  …Of course, the depersonalizing ones amongst you lacking an understanding of animism would reject any such association due to your projection of disbelief.  However—and equally—as we lack any ethnographic data on the carving we must assume caution…  A fascinating site nonetheless – and one which may have hidden neighbours.

References:

  1. Gourlay, Robert, Sutherland: An Archaeological Guide, Birlinn: Edinburgh 1996.
  2. Michell, John, Simulacra, Thames & Hudson: London 1979.
  3. Morrison, Hew, Tourist’s Guide to Sutherland and Caithness, D.H. Edwards: Brechin 1883.
  4. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland, HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

Acknowledgments:  Huge thanks to Donna Murray for use of her photos in this site profile (aswell as for putting up with me whilst in the area); and also to Sarah MacLean for taking us to the carving in the first place. Many many thanks indeed.  See y’ again soon, hopefully!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Lochan Hakel (01), Tongue, Sutherland

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NC 56988 52656 

Getting Here

Lochan Hakel’s cup & ring (photo by Sarah MacLean)

Whether you take the A836 or A838 into Tongue (through truly beautiful wilderness), make sure you go into the village itself—and then keep going, south, along the tiny country road.  Nearly 2½ miles along, note the small loch of Lochan na Cuilce on your right.  A few hundred yards past this, on the other side of the road (barely visible at first) is Lochan Hakel.  Walk around to the south-side of the loch and, across from where the small island of Grianan lives, you’ll see this large rounded boulder by the loch-side.

Archaeology & History

Stuck in a veritably stunning middle-o’-nowhere below the outstretched northern moors beneath Ben Loyal & co, there is no previous literary account of this faded petroglyph, rediscovered in early April 2017 when Sarah MacLean took us on a visit to the more renowned multiple cup-and-ringer of Lochan Hakel 2, just yards away above the moorland rise (which is unmissable from here).  It’s not too special in comparison with its neighbour and many others—but try telling Sarah that!

Cup & ring atop of stone (photo by Sarah MacLean)

This large rounded lichen-covered boulder has, at its height, a carved ring around a natural rise—known as a ‘boss’—at the very top of the rock.  On its southern side, Sarah found a single cup-mark, along with a couple of others on the more northeasterly sloping face.  At the bottom of this face is another seemingly isolated small cup-marking.  There may well be other carved elements beneath the mass of ancient lichens, but we thought it best to leave them for the time being.  It’s also quite likely that other unrecorded carvings exist in the area.

Acknowledgments:  Huge thanks to Sarah MacLean, not only for helping to locate this carving, but for use of her photos in this site profile.  Cheers Sarah!  And to Donna Murray, for putting up with me whilst in the area! …Now, let’s find some more of them!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian