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Rock art in Scotland

Since I moved to Scotland, the rock art has intrigued me. I don't live very far from Kilmartin Glen, one of the best places in Scotland to see rock art, and I have gone there many times visiting and revisiting the many rock art panels in the glen. You will visit Kilmartin Glen during various walking holidays we offer.

Rock Art Kilmartin GlenThis is one of my favourite rock art panels, located above Cairnbaan, Kilmartin Glen.

Around 2,400 carved rocks are known in Scotland and new discoveries are made all the time. They date back to the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.4000-1800 BC) and form part of a broader European rock art tradition. The purpose and significance of the panels to prehistoric and more recent communities is poorly understood.

Nether Largie standing stones, Kilmartin Glen
Three of the Nether Largie Standing Stones in Kilmartin Glen have cup and ring markings.
It has been suggested that these stones have been quarried from a rock art panels.

The Scottish rock art is based on simple carved shapes known as 'cup marks' and 'cup and ring marks'. Cup marks are circular depressions, usually made by hitting the rock surface with a stone tool. Some cup marks are surrounded by one or more concentric rings, and some have lines or grooves extending from them. Many rock surfaces are covered with multiple carvings based on different combinations of these simple shapes, and each carved rock surface is unique.

Historic Environment Scotland recently started a five year project with the aim to create a database of Scotland's rock art. The project is a co-production between their expert staff, academic partners and community groups. I recently joined a training for rock art recording with out local history society. Part of the training was at two rock art panels in Gleann Beag or Hell's Glen near Strachur, which we recorded and photographed. Back inside we made a 3D model of the photographs.

Gleann Beag rock artCleaning a rock art panel in the plantation in Gleann Beag for recording and photographing.
This rock art is on a sandstone erratic brought here by a glacier during the last ice age 14,000 years ago.

Not all the rock art you will see is prehistoric. Below some photos of modern rock art in Weem Wood in Highland Perthshire, including a panel with cup and ring marks! You will see these during our Highland Perthshire, Argyll & the Isles luxury walking tour.

Modern rock art in Weem Wood, Perthshire
Modern rock art in Weem Wood, Perthshire.
This was commissioned by the Forestry Commission and carve in 2008 by Andy McFetters

Dragon in Weem Wood, Perthshire
Dragon in Weem Wood, Perthshire