Cup and ring marked rock, Achnabreck, Argyll and Bute

Ink on polyester film, 1984
Survey by RCAHMS

Cup and ring markings are amongst the most spectacular prehistoric art in northern Europe and examples can be found along the European Atlantic seaboard, from Portugal to Scandinavia. Formed by an artist pecking away at the rock surface with a stone implement, these carvings date to around the beginning of the third millennium BC.

After the spirals were carved, this rock was revisited and the cup and rings were created. This suggests that the rock was known and had special significance to people at different times.

What the markings mean will never be known. Archaeologists currently focus on the location of the carvings, their association with places in the landscape and where they are found in other archaeological monuments. They have been valued by people for centuries and regardless of their lost meaning, they can be appreciated for their aesthetic impact and simplistic beauty.