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Cup And Ring Marked Rock (Prehistoric)

Site Name Auchentorlie

Classification Cup And Ring Marked Rock (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Greenland 1 And 2

Canmore ID 43363

Site Number NS47SW 4

NGR NS 43445 74600

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council West Dunbartonshire
  • Parish Old Kilpatrick (Dumbarton)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Dumbarton
  • Former County Dunbartonshire

Archaeology Notes

NS47SW 4 434 746.

(NS 4344 7460; NS 4345 7460; NS 4248 7462) Cup and Ring marked Rocks (NR)

OS 6" map (1970)

Two groups of rock carvings lie in the middle of the flat ground some 400m S of Greenland farm. The largest group (at NS 4344 7460) has 22 sets of concentric rings around a cup, 106 cup marks, and a spiral, carved on a large, flat rock. A smaller rocky saddle (at NS 4348 7462) has 5 cup-and-rings and at least 5 cups.

E W MacKie 1975; R W B Morris and D C Bailey 1967; J Bruce 1896

Situated at NS 4344 7460 is a mass of rock outcrop with three areas of cup-and-ring markings on the rock surface on its eastern side. Two of the cups have eight concentric rings around each one, the remainder being mainly cups without rings. At NS 4348 7462 there are eight or nine excellent cup-and-ring marks incised on a rock outcrop.

Visited by OS (JHO) 6 April 1951

Cup and ring marked rocks as described above.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 28 January 1963

NS 434 746 A large flat rock bearing cup-marks with concentric rings; cup-marks without rings; cup-marks in patterns; oval-shaped basins, some with ring; and a spiral (Morris and Bailey 1967 no.29).

A cup-and-ring marked rock (Morris and Bailey 1967 no.30)

RCAHMS 1978, December 1977

Under threat of being quarried away in January 1984.

Information from R Morris letter to RCAHMS, 12 February 1984.

The continuing threat from quarrying led to excavations at Greenland 2 cup-and-ring rock art site. An area 56m sq adajacent to the known rock carvings was stripped, revealing a naturally-fragmented surface and hints of some human truncation. No further carvings were revealed, but one possible further cup-and-single ring was noted near the other marks on the already exposed surface. Several flint flakes and chips were found in crevices around the decorated areas, along with the tip of a flint arrowhead.

Sponsor: National Museum of Scotland.

A Sheridan 1993.

NS 4344 7463 (Greenland 1), NS 4348 7462 (Greenland 2) In view of the continuing and worsening threat to these two decorated outcrops from quarrying, HS granted the National Museum of Scotland [NMS] Scheduled Monument Consent for their controlled removal, so that they could be protected in perpetuity and returned to public display. The work took place between July and August 1994.

Preliminary work consisted of the cleaning of the Greenland 1 outcrop, in order to remove vegetation and clarify its eastern and southern extent. This enlarged the exposed area from the c. 13m by 8m as cleaned by MacKie in 1984 to c. 17.5m by 11.5m. The E and S parts of the outcrop were not pursued below the level of contact with the undisturbed till. (Fieldwork included trowelling of the subsoil down to the till in a strip roughly 12m by 2m along the S edge of the outcrop.) In the course of this work four tiny (and chronologically undiagnostic) pieces of flint, very similar to the flakes found at Greenland 2 in 1993, were discovered in crevices - all but one were in the newly exposed area. Three of these were burnt. In addition, an area of sandstone rubble - including a few decorated pieces - was discovered at the SE edge of the outcrop. These must have resulted from one of the several episodes of stone removal attested at the outcrop.

Cleaning also revealed one small, hitherto unrecorded, area of decoration at the SE corner of the outcrop; and it clarified the spatial extent of truncation of the surface. Non-truncated, undecorated stretches of outcrop, complete with glacial striae, were revealed along the S and E edges of the outcrop.

After cleaning, Greenland 1 was recorded using stereo photography (to produce a computer-rectified 'orthophotograph' of the outcrop), and an EDM survey was undertaken by RCAHMS, to show the relative positions of Greenland 1 and 2, Sheep Hill, and the HS test trenches, and also the find-spots of small finds. Removal of the decorated surfaces was effected by cutting beneath them with a diamond wire saw. This produced blocks corresponding to the natural cleavage lines of the rock; the blocks were then lifted onto pallets, crated, and transported away. No decorated rock remains at the site.

It is intended to display part of Greenland 1 in the new Museum of Scotland, another part in the Hunterian Museum, and the rest in a Dumbarton District Council property close to Greenland, at Overtoun House.

In the course of the 1994 work, the following additional information came to light: (a) a loose decorated boulder was found on the low ridge to the S of Greenland 1; (b) the quarry owner explained that the area immediately to the N and S of the decorated outcrops had formerly been boggy - so much so that extensive excavation and infilling of the area to the N had been necessary to form a stable platform for quarrying operations. (See also NS47SW 80.)

Sponsor: NMS. The assistance of the following is gratefully acknowledged: landowners Messrs A and W Thompson, Lanark & District Archaeology Society and friends, Dr E MacKie and colleagues in the Hunterian Museum.

A Sheridan 1994.


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