White Caterthun Carving, Menmuir, Angus

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 54671 66022

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 35007

Getting Here

White CaterthunCR01

The carving below the walling

Many ways here, but from the nearest town of Brechin, take the minor north road out of town (not the B966) to Little Brechin, heading roughly north to the renowned hillforts of White and Brown Cathertun (ask a local if needs be).  Park up and walk up the slope to White Cathertun, following the immense walling around to the right.  Near where you reach the opposite side of the hillfort, look down the rocky slopes for a large boulder, just on the edge of the walling.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

Although Canmore include this cup-marked stone in the site-profile of the incredible White Caterthun hillfort, it should really have an entry of its own, as it’s age and nature very probably pre-date the construction of the giant fortress.  But, this aside, if you’re visiting the hillfort (an incredible place!), at least give this heavily cup-marked stone your attention too.

Looking across the carving

Looking across the carving

Close-up of the main cups

Close-up of the main cups

Probably neolithic in origin, there was a small portable cup-marked companion found 30 yards away, suggesting perhaps that a cairn might once have stood on this hilltop—but tradition is silent on the matter.  No other petroglyphs of any note have been located nearby, which is unusual.  In all probability other carvings remain undiscovered, particularly in the hills immediately to the north.

Consisting of around 80 cup-marks, several of which appear linked by carved lines, the stone has been bound together with concrete and metal bolts after some idiot damaged it in the 19th century.  It was first described by Miss Christian Maclagan (1875) in her stunning megalithic survey of the period.  She wrote:

“To Sir James Simpson’s list of cup-markings we are able to add the one at the Caterthun, on a large block 6 feet long, which is quite covered with very distinctly cut cup-markings.  It is a block of basalt…and the cups are so very clear and sharp in their lines that their freshness can only be accounted for by the stone having lain with the markings buried in the ground.  This curious stone has been quite recently broken in two.  It is a pity to see it so destroyed, because it is valuable to the antiquary in helping to establish a very remote antiquity for the fortification.  It lies on the north side of the fort, among a chaos of stones, having probably once formed the side of a gateway.”

A few years later the late great J. Romilly Allen (1882) visited the site and gave us his description, telling:

“On the west side (of the hillfort), 10 yards north of the boundary of the fir plantation that covers one-half of the hill is a cup-marked boulder… The stone has been broken in two, and one portion of it lies at the foot of the stone rampart just above the first outer ditch, whilst the other half has been rolled down the hill by some mischievous person with more muscles than brains, and is to be found immediately below, where its further progress was arrested by coming in contact with the outermost wall.  The two fragments when placed together measure 6 feet 9 inches long by 3 feet wide, and 1 foot 9 inches thick.  The stone is greenish quartzose slate, and on its upper surface are carved eighty cups, varying from 1½ to 2½ inches diameter.  In two cases two cups are united into one by a connecting groove.”

J. Sherriff's 1995 drawing

J. Sherriff’s 1995 drawing

J.R. Allen's 1882 drawing

J.R. Allen’s 1882 drawing

The most recent description and illustration of the stone is in John Sherriff’s (1995) survey. When we visited the carving recently we noticed three cup-marks etched onto the side of the stone, with a possible carved line running above one of them—but due to the bright sunlight on of the day of our visit, it was difficult to say whether this was a geological in nature or not (bright daylight can hamper good visibility of many carvings).  Check it out!

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notes on some Undescribed Stones with Cup Markings in Scotland,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, volume 16, 1882.
  2. Kenworthy, J., “White Caterthun: Cup-Marked Stone”, in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1980.
  3. MacLagan, Christian, The Hill Forts, Stone Circles and other Structural Remains of Ancient Scotland, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1875.
  4. Sherriff, John, “Prehistoric Rock-Carvings in Angus,” in Tayside & Fife Archaeological Journal, volume 1, 1995.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.783562, -2.743499 White Catherthun carving

Lady Well, Menmuir, Angus

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NO 5835 6623

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore 34976
  2. The Lady’s Well, Chapelton of Dunlappie
  3. The Ladywell, Chapelton of Dunlappie

Getting Here

Original position of Lady Well, near the gate

Travelling north along the minor Little Brechin to Reidhall road, take the left fork at the Drumchapel Estate Company sign towards Chapelton Farm, take a sharp left then right turn and the site of the well is through the green metal gate on the left of the road behind the cottage.

Archaeology and History

Andrew Jervise, in 1853 describing the ‘Hermitage of the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Forest of Kilgery’ quotes in his The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindseys:

“This old chaplainry stood in a field near the farmhouse of Chapelton of Dunlappie. The stones of the chapel were taken to build the farm-steading, and a fine spring, about a hundred and fifty yards south east of the site of the chapel, still bears the name of Ladywell, in honour of the Virgin.”

William Fraser, writing about the Chapel in 1867 wrote:

“The ruins of the Forest Chapel of the Virgin existed till lately in the vicinity of a fine spring, still known as the Lady’s Well.”

This chapel was subsidiary to the Hermitage Notre Domine Maria de Kilgery, situated almost 1½ miles due west on the southern slope of the Brown Caterthun hill-fort.

Lady Well on 1865 map

Lady Well now runs into a cistern in front of the gap

The Lady Well is shown on the 1868 Ordnance Survey map as being in the field, with the spring issuing at the roadside as a ‘spout’. Where the Lady Well stood, there is now just a lush patch of grass by the metal gates. On my field visit, I met the farmer, who was totally unaware that there had ever been a holy well. He said that a brick cistern with a wooden lid had been built on the site of the ‘spout’, and that the water was pumped from there to supply the adjoining cottage. He said the water flowed into the cistern from a pre-existing pipe, and never dried up, but he had no idea where the supply originated. So perhaps the flow from the spring was diverted from the site shown on the map when the ruins of the chapel were taken down.

There is now nothing to see above ground of the Chapel or the original Holy Well, and while the nineteenth century quotation above refers to the Well being at Chapelton of Dunlappie, it is now known as Chapelton of Menmuir.

References:

  1. Andrew Jervise, The History and Traditions of the Land of The Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, 2nd Edition, Edinburgh, David Douglas, 1882.
  2. William Fraser, History of The Carnegies, Earls of Southesk, and of Their Kindred,Volume One, Edinburgh, Privately Printed, 1867.
  3. Jervise, A, Notices of the Localities of the Sculptured Stone Monuments at St Vigeans, Inchbrayoch, Pitmuies, and Menmuir, in Angus, and of Fordoun in the Mearns. Part IV. (pp 458-66), Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 2, 1855-56.

© Paul T. Hornby 2016, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.785734, -2.683190 Lady Well