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Fieldnotes by rockandy

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Keils (Cup Marked Stone)

This cup-marked outcrop is very impressive but can be hard to find. It is much further uphill and closer to the new plantation than described in the local book of walks and in the sketch map. My grid reference is: NR 51981 67896.

The outcrop faces E and is in a valley close to a stream junction and waterfall. 28 cup marks have been described, four at the base being unusually large, 10cm in diameter and same in depth, prominently conical in form. They are all mainly on the vertical surface of the outcrop but there are a few carved on small horizontal ledges. The upper marks are heavily eroded (about 65mm diameter and 15mm deep or smaller) and have cut through the strata of the rock similar to the single cup on the Stones of the Glen standing stone and cup-marks at An Carn. The valley hereabouts has clearly filled with peaty deposits and vegetation and there may be more marks on the buried part of the outcrop.

Prominent views are down the valley to the E, past the ancient township of Keils, the islands of Small Isles Bay and the site of the standing stones of Knockrome on the distant headland. Two km to SW are the Stones of the Glen now embedded in a new Plantation. On higher ground close to the cup-marked outcrop the Paps of Jura can just be seen over the closer higher ground.

Jura Historial Society report another cup-marked stone on the slope above Craighouse Parish Church. There is a triangular boulder with interesting markings at NR 52427 67738 which would fit this position. It lies fairly close to a cist and other cairns but I couldn't be convinced that the deep irregular marks on its surfaces were anything other than of natural origin although not usual on the surrounding rocks.

Uamh na Bantighearna, Kiloran Bay (Cave / Rock Shelter)

This cave (also called Uamh na Bantighearna or Lady's Cave) is in the headland on the NE side of Kiloran Bay, one of the most picturesque beaches in the Inner Hebrides (even in the rain). This is the centre-most of three caves, now situated well above the high water mark. Inside, it feels like early man has only just left to find some shellfish in the rock-pools below. Substantial midden remains both inside and outside the cave consist largely of limpet shells. Heres a link with the Colonsay site: Fingal's Limpet Hammers. A drystone platform lines one side of the cave.

Below the cave a boulder bears two cup-marks carved several meters apart on the vertical SE face, 6cm in diameter and 4cm deep. You pass by this boulder as you ascend to the entrance.

One of the lower caves, Uamh Shiorruidh or Endless Cave showed evidence of its use by people of the Azilian Culture (7000-5000BC).

I had confused this with another nearby, lower cave Uamh Na Mine (see notes by Feagh below).

Crocky's Heugh (Cup Marked Stone)

Almost as good a name as Snook Bank.

Visited this site today with David and found it with the help of Stan's slide photo in the Archive taken in 1993. Maybe noone has seen it since then! It was too cold for hanging about and after a short look round we headed home for a late breakfast.

The rounded, cup-marked boulder commands a fine view over the valley to the N and E. There are several large cups, some with possible faint rings and grooves running down the rock surface and there are two more cups on one edge.

Another cup-marked rock, Crocky's Heugh b, is apparently in the same area but we didn't find it this visit. The Archive describes it as a massive rock table in a quarry. There are many small quarries all over these slopes and a large amount of stone has been removed from the area.

Corby's Crags Rock Shelter (Cave / Rock Shelter)

From KeysToThePast site number N4227:
A natural rock outcrop overlies a rock shelter that contains evidence of prehistoric activity. An excavation there in 1975 discovered Mesolithic flints and an Early Bronze Age cremation in a pottery vessel. In addition the upper surface of the shelter is decorated with a carved basin and a groove, markings that are probably associated with nearby cup and ring marked stones. The shelter also seems to have been used in more recent times as post-medieval clay pipes, glass, pieces of iron and ledges carved in the rock were also found.

A good place to sit out of the wind with good views and the skylarks learning again how to sing as they think the winter may be over. Now, where did I drop my clay pipe?

Ringses Camp, Beanley Moor (Hillfort)

I'm sure Iron Age hillforts have their interest and like many in Northumberland the location is often stunning, as it was here. The many-walled fort was probably built more for show than for defense and may have been visible from some distance.

Similar to the Doddington Ringses, there is also traces here of man's earlier use of the landscape by the finding of rock-art.

Two panels were found in the region of the fort in the 1860s and moved to Alnwick Castle Museum. They are illustrated by Stan Beckensall (2001 p166) who also shows the earlier drawings of Collingwood Bruce.

Apart from a rock slab given in the Beckensall archive as Beanley Moor 1, most of the carved rock now present in the landscape appear to be of the unimpressive cup-marked variety. They are certainly quite challenging to find, and even harder to interpret!
I'm certain there are more out there but there are alot of rocks to examine and in this game the light is not always perfect.

Fallowlees Burn (Cup Marked Stone)

Managed to follow-up my exploring around the Fontburn Reservoir area. These findings are in the area S of the Fallowlees Burn, W of the main cup-marked boulder described by Beckensall as Fontburn b. There is little surface rock on much of the moorland and there also appears to be some limestone in the SE which may account for natural erosion patterns on some rocks, the presence of sink holes in some areas, and the location of the reservoir.

Hob's grooved boulder, at the centre of a denuded cairn, is located further E of his reference within the enclosure that is crossed by the wall. The grid reference is approximately NZ 027 936. It lies just below a prominent double knoll E of the bridlepath which turns from a junction to run (largely invisible on the ground) in a NW direction.

Further W, a rock with clear cup-marks (see photo) lies within the rectangular improved field at grid reference NZ 01667 93254, close to the line of bridlepath, about 60m S of a gate in the NW fence. This small, flat rock is, I think, previously undescribed. It bears 2 deep and up to 3 shallow cups. It may also have come from a cairn, now dispersed. The field contains other small cairns (which may be from field clearance) and enclosure banks.

Near to the point that the Fallowlees Burn emerges from the gloom of the conifers of Harwood Forest there is, about 10m N from a prominent bend in the stream, a large, rounded boulder perched on a bed of what looks like horizontal limestone (NZ 01277 93129). It is probably a stone perched by glacial action. Markings on the top surface are probably natural erosion.

If these new markings are confirmed, the cup-marked stones in the Fallowlees/Fontburn region appear to lie on both banks of the Burn marking its course from the W. Marked rocks appear again SW of the Forest in the intricate cup and ring markings of Tod Crag which has been suggested may lie on the course of an old routeway.

Fontburn (b) (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Hob's cup marked boulder (see photos), just W of and in sight of Fontburn b, does not correspond to the other marked rock in the Beckensall archive, Fontburn d. This is located further to the NW of Hob's stone on the opposite side of a small stream just N of the bridle way (NZ 031 935).

The Beckensall archive describes Fontburn d as having four cups, one elongated, on the SSE face and two cups on the E face. The top surface of the boulder also has prominent grooves and these don't look particularly natural. The boulder is said to be located in the centre of a denuded cairn and there is another, more complete cairn further down the ridge towards the reservoir.

There are clearly other marked rocks on the S side of the Fallowlees Burn in and around the old enclosures further W (see, for example, the Fallowlees site post).

Fontburn Reservoir (Cup Marked Stone)

There is a large and possibly cup-marked rock (see photo) at the location of the site marked on the 1:25 000 OS sheet (NZ 022937). It is heavily encrusted with lichen with the rest partially covered in moss and turf. It is on the slope just N of the Fallowlees Burn to the E of the bridleway. The cups on the visible surface are certainly not deep, and I was not clear at the time of my visit if this was the stone referred to by Beckensall (2001) as Fontburn (a). No illustration appeared to have been published. Recent comparison with images in the Beckensall archive show that this rock is identified as Fontburn a (i), 185 x 135cm, in its original location, with a minimum of 15 cups.

The Beckensall archive describes three more marked rocks in the vicinity, all of which I missed on this visit, unsurprisingly when you examine the photographs. My eyes and experience are no match for Stan's.

There is a very nice, deeply cup-marked rock to the west (NZ 018936) between the forest and the Burn (see photo) just W of the Settlement. There are many rocks in the area but this was the only one with clear markings. The rock is very close to the ground, about 60 x 30 cm in size, with four prominent cups (three deep and one shallow). High ground surrounds on all sides and the only view is E down the valley towards Fontburn. I thought this was a new find and was quite excited. Recent examination of the Beckensall archive shows it as Fontburn a (vi), where it is considered to be a portable, reused stone, possibly part of a burial cairn. Perhaps this is the origin of many of the scattered rocks in this area, including the large number of smaller rounded cobbles on a slope above the burn.

I photographed another cup-marked large boulder SE of this stone which corresponds to Fontburn a (v) of the archive (see photo), but missed (vii) and (viii). The marks on these were either not particularly prominent or I mistook them for natural erosion.

It would be interesting to explore further up the valley but the forest would perhaps make this impossible.

There is also an earthfast boulder with a possible single deep cup in front of Fallowlees Farm, right next to the bridle way (see photo) but I am much less certain of this one because of its position.
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