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Archaeology Notes

Date 26 June 1977

Event ID 697191

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NR83SE 10 8844 3092

(NR 8845 3093). The King's Cave is one of several in a sandstone cliff. It is large and irregular, about 120 by 30ft. Towards the E end it is divided by a buttress of rock facing the cave, behind which it contracts to a point. The narrow part of the cave thus consists of two passages of aisles, separated by the buttress of rock. On the side of the buttress, at the entrance of the N "aisle", is a row of small holes cut in the stone in a sloping line, and on both sides, towards the point, is a row of similar holes, suggesting they may have been the sockets of small bars of wood. Similar holes occur in the other "aisle" at the same height, and at the outside of the cave, on the S side, is a row of larger holes, running towards the roof, without corresponding holes on the opposite side. There are figures of horses in the S "aisle" pretty far in; and on the wall of that side of the cave, opposite to the buttress, are deer and concentric circles cup and ring marks (R W B Morris Mss 1968). There are no sculptures in the N aisle. On the face of the buttress or pillar fronting the cave, are figures of a large cross, a smaller one, and of a man with his hands joined above his head. There are also other indistinct lines, much obscured by names. A group of serpents occurs towards the entrance of the cave on the N wall, and on the opposite wall of the cave are two triangles. A seat is cut in the solid rock on the N side of the entrance is a circular hole of built stones like a well, filled up with rubbish.

An Iron Age date is suggested for the animal figures (C Thomas 1961).

Parts of the cave were excavated by Balfour in 1909. Little was found, except a fragment of bronze,ashes, a few shells and pieces of bone.

The name "Kings Cave" derives form the tradition that Robert the Bruce stayed here. The tradition is relatively recent in origin, earlier writers, eg Pennant in 1772, calling it "Fingal's Cave" (Mackenzie 1914).

J Stuart 1867; J A Balfour 1910; C Thomas 1961; W M Mackenzie 1914.

An Ogham inscription was noted in 1971 on the left hand wall, about 9.0m from the entrance gate, and some 2.0m from the floor. The carvings in this cave date from Early Christian to modern times.

K Jackson 1973.

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