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

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

Priest’s Stone, Lethnot & Navar, Angus

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 5404 6892

Archaeology & History

Priest’s Stone on 1865 map

Despite being shown on the early OS-maps of the area, I can find few references this place.  The Ordnance Survey lads themselves, when visiting here in 1863, merely told that this it was “a standing stone of which nothing is known except the name.  It is 3 feet high, three feet in diameter at base, and a foot and a half at top.”  Even in Cruikshank’s (1899) definitive survey of this township he could add little more, merely telling:

“About a quarter-of-a-mile north of Bellhill is a field known as “the Priest’s Field.” There is a large right stone in the middle of it, called “the Priest’s Stone,” and it is so given on the Ornance Survey map. not simply because such is the local name, but also because the skilled surveyors after examining it concluded that it had been used for sacrifice. It stands just behind the site of the old farm steadying of Upper Argeith, or vulgarly, Townhead.”

Quite what he meant by saying that “it had been used for sacrifice,” god only knows!  But the writer was the local minister and so would have been possessed by the usual delusions.  Anyhow, the stone was uprooted and destroyed by the farmer at Newbigging, sometime prior to 1958.  Idiot!

A half-mile north of this could once be seen a stunner of a site: a double-ringed giant tomb from where hundreds of cartloads of stone were taken.  It too no longer exists!

References:

  1. Cruikshank, F., Navar and Lethnot: The History of a Glen Parish in the North-east of Forfarshire, Black & Johnston: Brechin 1899.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, The Archaeological Sites & Monuments of Central Angus, Angus District, Tayside Region, HMSO: Edinburgh 1983.

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

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

Ballengeich, Uphall, West Lothian

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 074 698

Archaeology & History

A few hundred yards west of the commemorative Wallace Stone monolith could once be seen a standing stone of considerable size.  It was described by James Primrose in his description of the standing stones of the Strathbrock region; but even in his day, remains of it were fragmentary.  He wrote:

“On Drumshoreland Moor, within the grounds of Pumpherston Oil Company, there is a stone, popularly styled Bucksides — its correct designation being Backsides — from its position at the backside of Pumpherston.  This stone, a huge whinstone boulder about 12 feet long and 8 feet broad, was blasted in 1888, to make room for the site of a bench of retorts; a few fragments of the stone, however, yet remain by the roadside.  The ancient name of this stone was Ballengeich — apparently the Gaelic for “the township towards the wind”, — as if a croft once stood here, near Pumpherston Mains, in an exposed and windy situation.”

A visit to the local history department of the local library might prove fruitful in giving us more information about this place—that’s assuming the filthy tory central government’s theft of taxpayer’s money doesn’t close it! (does that sound a bit harsh? 😁 )

Folklore

The same historian told of a “tradition…that round this stone in days gone by the Broxburn folks, along with their neighbours, used to assemble at Fair time, in the month of August, in order to witness their favourite sport of horse-racing; but whether there was any more ancient custom associated with it, we have never learned.”

References:

  1. Primrose, James, Strathbrock; or, the History and Antiquities of the Parish of Uphall, Andrew Elliot: Edinburgh 1898.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Cnoc Brannan, Glen Artney, Comrie, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 7266 1627

Also Known as:

  1. Brannan Stone

Getting Here

Into the eve of western hills

Make a day out of this one, visiting several old places on the way.  From Comrie take the B827 road to Braco, turning right at the tiny Glen Artney road a half-mile along (easy to miss).  3 miles along, pass the derelict Dalness cottage, you can follow the directions to get to the Mailer Fuar (2) cup-and-ring stone; and from here go up the field past the Mailer Fuar (1) carving, through the gate and follow the fence to your right.  Keep going till your reach the Allt na Drochaide cup-and-ring stone.  From here you’re heading (south) towards the rounded crags of Cnoc Brannan.  It’s boggy as fuck in parts so cautiously zigzag through this section up towards the small grassy rise about 350 yards from the cup-and-ring stone.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

From the old stone, gazing S

On one of the gentle rises below the northern slope of Cnoc Brannan we find this sturdy old fella, 3-4 feet tall (I didn’t measure it), looking across the stunning landscapes north, east and west along Glen Artney.  Not previously recorded and seemingly isolated from other prehistoric remains, he looks all alone at first sight, but laid down in the grassy rushes (Juncus conglomeratus) to his side, is a slender seven-foot long stone which may have stood upright in the not-too-distant past, giving us another double stone setting in this area (at least two others existed in this area—the closest being at Craggish, 3.7 miles northeast).  I have little doubt that other undiscovered prehistoric remains are hiding in the area. (there are a number of single cup-marked stones in the locale, although I tend to leave such examples off the catalogues as they can be somewhat dubious [and many are].  I mention this just in case any rock art students want to forage the area.)

Dedication: This one’s for Pete & Sharon

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Allt Geal Chairn, Amulree, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 89079 34041

Getting Here

The old stone, looking W

Take the A822 road to the northeast of Crieff and head 4-5 miles along until you enter the Sma’ Glen.  You go past Ossian’s Stone and after crossing the river past the Newton Bridge enclosure, the road starts to go uphill.  Nearly 2 miles up, the road levels out and at the left-side of the road is a small thin car-parking spot.  Keep your eyes peeled out for it!  From here, walk back down the road for nearly 250 yards until your reach a gate into the fields on your right.  By now you should already be able to see the stone in the field, barely 100 yards away to the southwest.

Archaeology & History

The old stone, looking N

Standing within the impressive landscape of the Perthshire mountains, this 4-foot-tall monolith is a seemingly solitary fella, sliced almost straight down one side—like so many of its regional compatriots—not far from the edge of General Wade’s military road.  Not much more can be said of the old thing.  The petroglyphic cluster of Corrymuckloch begins less than half-a-mile to the north; and, in all likelihood, other prehistoric sites will exist close by that aren’t yet in the archaeological registers…

AcknowledgmentsThanks to my long-suffering daughter Naomi, for taking me up for a quick break to see this old stone…

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Cnoc Dubh, Moulin, Pitlochry, Perthshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NN 9424 5871

Archaeology & History

Missing from the primary surveys of Burl (2000) and Barnatt (1989), a mention of this long lost site was made by local historian Hugh Mitchell (1923) in his survey of the area.  He told that,

“On the east side of the Moulin road beyond the Hydro Hotel a knoll and a clump of trees will be noticed on the right, inside the Hydropathic grounds; this knoll is known as the Cnoc Dubh, or “Black Knoll” and still bears an uncanny reputation as being an old site of Pagan worship.  There was at one time a stone circle on it, but the stones are said to have been broken up, fully 100 years ago, to build the old farmhouse of Balnadrum.”

Something ancient was there, obviously, as it was mentioned in another earlier account—albeit just a tourist guide of Atholl—which said that, on

“the knoll known as Knock-Dhu, within the (Pitlochry Hydro) grounds, are the remains of a pre-historic fort, now overgrown with pine trees.”

References:

  1. Anon., Atholl Illustrated, L. Mackay: Pitlochry c.1910.
  2. Dixon, John H., Pitlochry Past and Present, L. Mackay: Pitlochry 1925.
  3. Mitchell, H., Pitlochry and District: Its Topography, Archaeology and History, L. Mackay: Pitlochry 1923.

Links:

  1. Canmore

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian