Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid — NN 56993 02835
Along the A81 road from Port of Menteith to Aberfoyle, watch out for the small road in the trees running at an angle sharply uphill, nearly opposite Portend, up to Coldon and higher. Keep going, bearing right past Mondowie and stopping at the dirt-track 100 yards or so further up on the left. Walk up this dirt-track for ⅔ mile, and just before reaching the planted forestry, turn right along another dirt-track. Less than 200 yards along there’s a large sycamore tree, and about 20 yards below it (south) is the carving you’re looking for.
Archaeology & History
It’s difficult keeping up with the carvings in this region to the north of the Lake of Menteith, as we find new unrecorded ones on every visit, maintaining the tradition of fellow rock art students Maarten van Hoek, Kaledon Naddair, George Currie, Jan Broewer and the rest—and we know that there’s more of them hidden away. This one doesn’t seem to be in the Canmore listings, but I put that down to the fact that they’ve got a grid-references wrong somewhere, as it’s pretty plain to see. Although, to be honest, in the rather vague descriptions of the adjacent carvings (Over Glenny 4 and 6), this carving is in-between them, so you’d expect it to be listed. Anyway, that aside…
This long flat exposed rock surface has two primary cup-and-rings upon it: one cup with a double-ring, and the other standard cup-and-ring; there are also two single cup-markings on the stone: one near the middle of the rock and the other on its lower-right side. The main element is the double-cup-and-ring, which appears to be incomplete—not only in terms of its design, but also, as you can see in the photos, seems unfinished. From the central double-ring, a faint carved line runs out from the centre and into the other faint, incomplete, single cup-and-ring.
At the bottom of the stone (as with several others hereby) a curious set of deep scars have been cut into the edge of the rock. They’re unmistakable when you see them. They have probably been created by metal artifacts being sharpened along the bottom of the rock—many many times by the look of it. These deep cuts reminded me of the more famous Polisher Stone, down Avebury-way. They may be explained by the fact that, several centuries ago, a battle occurred here and some of the men gathered in the area before the attack. It would seem as if this and the other cup-and-ring stones were used to sharpen their blades before going into battle. Whether this was done because of some local lore which imbued these stones with some sort of magick, we do not know. Folklore here seems curiously scarce (english incomers destroyed local traditions, as writers were telling us in the 19th century), apart from the well-known one of the area being rife with fairies: Robert Kirk’s famous The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries (1691) was written three miles west of here, at Aberfoyle.
- Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
Acknowledgements: Massive thanks to the rest of the crew: Paul Hornby, Lisa Samson & Fraser Harrick.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian