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Cup And Ring Marked Rock (Prehistoric)

Site Name Torbhlaran

Classification Cup And Ring Marked Rock (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Torbhlaren

Canmore ID 39543

Site Number NR89SE 11

NGR NR 8622 9438

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilmichael Glassary
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes ( - 1977)

NR89SE 11 8622 9438.

NR 861 943. A whale-back of rock, c.100' x 30', 12' high is sculptured with four cups-and-three-rings, one cup-and-two-rings, four cup-and-one-ring and two cup marks, all on level top surface. It is situated about 130 yds W of the road, and 230 yds SW of cup and ring marked rock NR89SE 5. The largest mark is 10" in diameter, deepest, 1/2".

R W B Morris and B Thomson 1969

NR 8621 9437: A cup and ring marked rock, generally as described. Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (DWR) 7 May 1973

NR 8622 9438. This rock outcrop bears upwards of 15 cups on its level top surface. No rings could be identified with certainty.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (TRG) 17 March 1977


Field Visit (June 1985)

The NE flank of this whale-backed rock outcrop, which is situated in an arable field 190m SW of the outcrop NR89SE 5, bears the much weathered remains of a group of cup-and-ring markings. The decoration comprises two cups with five partial rings, six cups with three rings, seven cups with two rings, thirteen with single rings (many of the ringed cups having gutters), and some sixty-eight plain cups. Part of the SE edge of the outcrop has been removed by blasting, and at least two shot-holes are visible (DES 1969, 6; Morris 1977, 122).

Visited June 1985


Radiocarbon Dating

NR 8622 9438 Excavations in 2004 and 2006 produced evidence for a stone and clay built platform encircling the eastern edge of the rock art site. This is the first archaeological activity of its kind to have been excavated in association with a Scottish (or British) rock art site. The site was investigated due to its uncharacteristic position in the valley bottom.

The platform was covered in large quantities of smashed quartz, including some possible quartz and coarse stone hammer stones. A charcoal-filled scoop had been cut into its top. The platform extended around the outcrop for 4m to the S, while to the N the platform is visible as an earthwork. Excavations beneath the platform to the S revealed a small posthole structure of c1.5m in diameter, c1m away from the rock art outcrop. The structure had been burnt down and was sealed beneath the platform.

The post-excavation is at a reasonably advanced stage and two radiocarbon dates have been obtained from SUERC, for the postholes sealed beneath the platform and for a charcoal scoop inserted into the top of the platform. The date from the posthole structure is 2580–2340 BC at 95.4% confidence (2570–2510 BC at 68.2% confidence). The date from the charcoal scoop is AD 680–890 at 95.4% confidence (AD 760–870 at 68.2% confidence). Both dates are on oak, with the potential for problems associated with old wood. Nevertheless, while the date from the charcoal scoop provides a terminus ante quem, the date obtained from the posthole structure may provide a terminus post quem for the construction of the platform. While these dates do not date

the rock art, they provide an indication of the likely date of the activities associated with the use of the rock art site. As such, these are the first dates obtained from a British rock art site.

Archive: Kilmartin House Trust/National Museums Scotland (intended)

Funder: British Academy, London Antiquaries, Scottish Antiquaries, AHRC

A Jones (University of Southampton), 2008


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