An amateur enthusiast has reignited Scotland’s rock art heritage this week, by discovering more than 90 ancient cup marks on a rock in Perthshire. The stunning find was made by George Currie at Ben Lawers, near Loch Tay. Similar discoveries have been made in the area, but Mr Currie’s is the first containing so many marks.
Some cups still show the signs of individual blows by their maker’s tools, while others are encircled by a ring. The purpose of the marks remains a mystery, though Derek Alexander, an archaeologist for the National Trust for Scotland, is convinced the area is a hotbed of similar artworks that are yet to be uncovered: “This is an exciting find as it shows that there remains undiscovered prehistoric rock art to be found in the Scottish hills,” Mr Alexander tells the BBC. “More surprising are the quantity and variety of the symbols displayed on this boulder. Through both targeted research by professional archaeologists and the work of dedicated amateurs like George Currie,” he continues, “we now know that Ben Lawers forms one of the major concentrations of cup and ring marks in the Highlands, which suggests it was a very significant landscape in prehistory.”
Far from popular belief, you don’t have to go antipodean to see stunning rock and cave art. Creswell Crags, near Worksop, is a Paleolithic cave settlement discovered in 2003, which contains some of the most eye-catching ancient imagery in the world. The 13,500 year-old masterpiece is now the subject of a small museum. “Creswell was a Palaeolithic condo,” says archaeologist Paul Bahn. “Some cave art is clearly decoration, with very talented artists expressing themselves in different ways. A lot of them involve passing on information, telling stories, perhaps creation myths.” Though Creswell is the only known British cave art, rock art is startlingly common – with most examples found in the north of England, Scotland and Ireland. Cup marks can also be found at Old Bewick, Northumberland; and on Long Meg in Cumbria.
The area of Tayside and Perthshire, not generally known for its ancient heritage, has been hitting the archaeological headlines recently due to some incredible finds at Forteviot.