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Tiree, Balephetrish

Cup Marked Stone (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name Tiree, Balephetrish

Classification Cup Marked Stone (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Clach Na Choire; Clach A' Choire; Clach-a-coille; Ringing Stone

Canmore ID 21529

Site Number NM04NW 6

NGR NM 02679 48689

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Tiree
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM04NW 6 0268 4869.

(NM 0268 4869) Ringing Stone (NAT) Cup marked Stone (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

This massive granite erratic, known locally as 'The Ringing Stone' because of the metallic ring it produces when struck, is situated on the N coast of Tiree 1.8km NE of Balephetrish. Measuring about 3.4m by 2.4m and 1.8m in height, it lies balanced on the rocks some 15 m inland from high-water mark. On its sides and upper surface it bears at least fifty-three circular or oval depressions, of which twenty are large and, in most cases, oval in shape, measuring up to 230mm by 150mm across and 60mm deep; the remainder are smaller and predominantly circular, averaging 70mm in diameter and 10mm in depth. There can be no doubt that these markings are artificial and, while several of them are unusually large, the presence among them of many small circular cups, indistinguishable from prehistoric cup-markings, suggest that the whole assemblage may be prehistoric in origin (RCAHMS 1980).

Alternative Gaelic names of 'Clach-a-Coille' (L M Mann 1922) or 'Clach na Choire' (R W B Morris 1969) are given.

RCAHMS 1980, visited 1973; L M Mann 1922; R W B Morris 1969; E Beveridge 1903.

This boulder, known locally as the 'Ringing Stone' was located at NM 0268 4869.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (R D) 27 June 1972.


Note (27 May 2018)

Date Fieldwork Started: 27/05/2018

Compiled by: NOSAS

Location Notes: The panel is situated on a slightly raised area of rock outcrop between a small sandy bay and the sea. There is a small natural inlet about 40m to the E. At very high tides, the sea floods the bay, and the area on which the panel sits becomes a peninsula, almost totally surrounded by water. Approximately 10m to the S of the panel, the sandy beach becomes machair which slopes gently upwards to a low rise, with traces of rig visible running N-S. On this rise, about 60m S of the panel, are the footings of a thick-walled stone, turf-covered rectangular structure with rounded ends, orientated E-W, which is thought to be a Norse house. It has a small extension at the W end, and a possible second extension abutting the E end of the S wall. There are possibly two opposing entrances towards the E end of the structure, and a large sub-circular, level field or enclosure extending from the E edge of the N entrance around the E and S sides of the structure. A number of presumably later clearance cairns are grouped near the NW end of the structure, and further traces of rig run N-S to the W. Two small lochs lie to the E and S.

Panel Notes: This large, roughly egg-shaped grey specked granite boulder measures about 3.4x2.4m and 1.8m high. It is balanced on the underlying bedrock, and is thought to be an erratic that was deposited during the last glaciation, although it is not inconceivable that it was deliberately moved to its current location in prehistory or later. The boulder has a flat N end, and slightly rounded E and W faces and upper surface, with a narrow rounded S end. There are some fine fissures and angular hollows, mainly on the E face, but it is otherwise relatively smooth. There are at least 60 circular and oval depressions of varying dimensions on all the exposed surfaces. 38 of these are large and deep, having been ground repeatedly with smaller stones. Some of the larger hollows, especially on the W face, form elongated oval shapes. In addition there are at least 22 smaller, shallow circular depressions on the E, W and upper surfaces, and up to 7 possible very shallow cups. The stone may have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and some of the cupmarks could feasibly be prehistoric in origin.


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