Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Ancient historical carvings on Arran

Some of the rings

Arran is seeped in history and I've previously done a blog on the carvings at Kings Cave which proved popular so here's another site that is less well known.  Just outside of Brodick near the start of the string road I've seen the cups and rings marked on the map and heard the odd mention of them but despite driving past the area most days there is no sign post, unlike other historical sites on Arran.  

More of the rings and a cup
So it wasn't with much expectation that I set out on a rainy day to see if I could find them (yes it was a few weeks ago, as we've not had rain for ages, and then I got distracted and did a blog on the snow).

This figure appears to walk with sticks
I had a map location but nothing more, the track is off the String Road on the left, not long after passing the grave yard.  Twenty yards up the track there is space for 2 – 3 cars to park before a barrier and I continued on foot.  Eyes peeled for anything that may look interesting I continued along the churned up muddy track for about ¼ mile.  The track turns to a small path and within 30 yards the flat stone is reached.

Is this a person with a horse (similar to Kings Caves)?

No fear of missing it, its huge! About 25 foot by 12 foot or more, some of the carvings are several feet tall.  The rock slab is in two main parts both covered in carvings, too many to describe and show photographs of, so only a few to give a taste of the site are shown.

The cups - are these indentations where tools were sharpened?
Although it is difficult to imagine the carvings were done well before the forestry arrived and they actually stand on Stronach Ridge, with views that would have been across the Beinn Nuis and the Goatfell range.

There is something a little phallic about these!

There are several guesses as to the relevance of the carvings, from sun dials to maps and it is believed they originate in the Bronze Age (c 4000 years ago).

This bird like carving is on the side of the rock and previously was covered with vegetation

They are described as cups and rings, but some look like people, and some that have only recently started to be described in texts, are like birds.  I found one that looks like a foot long dragonfly – and I can’t find this described anywhere else, so maybe its recently been uncovered; it is clear that the ground has had some clearance work done.
My 'dragonfly' 

 There even seems to be some rune or Pictish like markings towards the left side of the main rock slab.

Are these Pictish markings?

The carvings were recorded in great detail by Coles in 1901 with descriptions, drawings and some photographic plates (no trees in these!) but there are areas which were still filled with peat and vegetation.  Some of this has now been removed revealing the birds and other carvings.  This description also notes two other carved rocks a short distance away but these are now well under forest plantation.

To me this looks like a row of people, including a horse.

This is a great place to go when its wet as the water highlights the marks (but still easily seen when dry), if visiting in summer take midge repellent, and stick to the path during the stalking season!

The main slab
I have doubts on these which have recently been uncovered - are they Iron Age graffiti? 
There are no preservation measures in place for the rocks, or definitive answers to what they are, so use your imagination and leave the site as you find it.

1 comment:

  1. these are amazing shots and descriptions of the carvings, I'm interested for obvious reasons, but I'm also interested because I am a Stronach from the US and I'm wondering why this area is called Stronach?