Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – c. NT 65 20
Archaeology & History
Apart from the petroglyph found at Jedburgh Abbey in 1903, there’s a distinct lack of known cup-and-ring stones in this area; so when the petroglyph pioneer George Tate was in town in 1860, he was fortunate to find a small “portable” stone with a rather impressive design on it. We don’t (yet) know the exact position of where the stone was located, as Tate simply told how,
“Lying among a heap of stones in Mr. Adam Mathewson’s garden, I detected, on a much weather-worn block, defaced sculpturing of the same family character as those in Northumberland. …There are five concentric circles, central cup, radial grooves, and a string of cups around the outer circle. Forty years ago this stone was built into the wall of a house; but whence it originally came is not known. Doubtless it belongs to the district, and probably had been connected with an interment.”
His final remark would seem most likely and has subsequently been echoed by several other rock art students. A few years after Tate’s initial find, the carving was mentioned in Sir James Simpson’s (1867) classic work, who told us:
“Sometime ago Mr Tate, of Alnwick, discovered in the garden of Mr Matthewson at Jedburgh a stone cut with concentric circles, possibly a sepulchral cist, but peculiar in some respects. The stone is roundish, but broken off at one side, and about eighteen inches broad. Its face is covered by five incised concentric rings, and through the central cup pass at right angles two straight lines, which completely bisect all the circles. The outermost circle is about fourteen inches in diameter. Some inches to the left of the central cup is a second, with one incised circle around it. Arranged circularly outside of the outermost circle is a series or ring of points or stars, each cut out—so Dr Falla writes me—”as with a single stroke of a pick, rather than hewn out.” I am indebted to the same gentleman for the sketch of this stone.”
Subsequently all other written accounts repeat the same basic description—and each account remained (as we still are) perplexed as to its original location, wondering where on Earth the Rev Adam Mathewson’s garden was in Jedburgh (surely someone must be able to find out?!). Thankfully the carving itself has been saved and presently lives in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow. Whether it ever had any relationship with the petroglyph at Jedburgh Abbey, we don’t yet know.
- Laidlaw, Walter, “Sculptured and Inscribed Stones in Jedburgh and Vicinity,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 39, 1895.
- Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring Marks and Similar Sculptures of South-West Scotland,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 14, 1967.
- Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring and Similar Early Sculptures of Scotland; Part 2 – The Rest of Scotland except Kintyre,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 16, 1969.
- Morris, Ronald W.B., “The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties – part 2,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
- Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
- Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Roxburghshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1956.
- Simpson, J.Y., “On Ancient Sculpturings of Cups and Concentric Rings,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 6, 1866.
- Simpson, James, Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, etc., Upon Stones and Rocks in Scotland, England and other Countries, Edmonston & Douglas: Edinburgh 1867.
- Tate, George, “The Ancient British Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders,” in Transactions of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 5, 1864.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian