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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1018894

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The rock sheets offer one of the most extensive displays of such carvings in Britain, with a bewildering profusion of multiple ring-markings, cups and grooves. On the first rock sheet there are over fifty cup-and-ring markings and many plain cup-markings, some of them unusually large; several of the figures are linked by grooves and many have grooves which run from the central cup. But it is the profusion of rings that is so striking. Up to nine rings surrounding the central cup have been counted; not all are circular, flattened sides are not uncommon. An early evening cross-light helps to capture both the decoration and the attractive colour of the rock.

At a distance of 30m to the north-west, the second area of carving has one of the largest cup-and-ring markings so far recorded, which measures almost 1m in overall diameter; seven rings surround a cup from which there are also two grooves.

The carvings on the highest part of the rock are not always easy to see, depending on lighting conditions, but contain some of the most unusual on the rock surface. Here, apart from cup-and-ring markings, there are double and triple-spiral motifs. It is possible that even further expanses of markings exist under the turf and heather, but in all cases where the markings are currently visible, they do not appear to extend under the turf.

The second fenced enclosure contains a denselypacked series of markings, many of the cup-and-rings joined by grooves to create patterns not unlike model railway networks. The rings are less regular than those of the larger rock-sheet, several figures containing more than one cup within the encircling rings.

Probably more has been written about the 'purpose' of such markings than any other archaeological imponderable; one view quoted by Sir James Young Simpson was that 'these circles are similar to those used in astronomical plates for elucidating the revolution of the planets round the sun'. Primitive calendars, maps of villages and acts of penance have all been suggested; whatever the reason, the social or religious pressures to continue what is a rather limited 'art-form' were clearly considerable.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

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