Thursday, 24 March 2011

High Banks farm cup and ring markings

On my penultimate full day at home we were blessed with some glorious weather. Being the first such day for a week or so, I decided to take full advantage of it and set off in search of the High Banks farm cup and ring makings.

Not content with the sun splitting the sky, I had the moon out as well.

Cup and ring markings are fairly common in Galloway. One of the signs here abouts of early civilisation, they are thought to be about 4000 to 5000 years old - that puts them in the neolithic period to the early bronze age. Nobody really knows what they were for or what they mean. The cup refers to the circular indentations in the rock and the ring refers, not surprisingly, to the carved rings, which often appear around a cup.

This first set took a bit of finding - the Ordinance Survey map I was armed with was somewhat out of date (or just plain wrong). Either way a woods had sprung up that wasn't on the map and the farmer had made an extra corner in the field. On the plus side I did find all the farm gates standing wide open which meant the cows hadn't been put out yet, so I could wander about looking for the markings without having to worry about them (or having to watch my step to carefully).

It's fascinating to think that my ancestors, all those thousands of years ago, must have spent hours on this hillside carving these out with antlers and flint tools. The cup marks here are quite clear but the ring markings are a bit more faint - I can see at least 3 sets though just looking at the picture. If it was my field, I doubt I'd be able to resist the temptation to take the grass off the rest of the rock and see what's under it because the marks definately seem to be carrying on.

At the bottom of that field, in a wood, was an an old church yard. The church itself has long gone but you can see where it was because it's interior has been planted out with a square of daffodils (this would be more obvious if the daffs were out). Thank goodness this was here, as it was quite firmly on the map and without it as a landmake I may never have found the markings.

A lot of the stones in the area have lines marked on them - generally all going in the same direction - like the one below. These are not manmade but were caused during the last ice age when a glacier passed over them.

This set of cup and ring marks are ones that High banks are most famous for. Here our forefather seems to have gone a bit wild with the cup marks - perhaps he was celebrating the invention of beer or had fallen out with his wife and didn't want to go back just yet (who's to say he was a he at all)

More markings on the same outcrop.

One of a whole flock of lapwings.

On a plinth a modern carving of the coastline around Kirkcudbright with some cup and ring markings - there is no plaque so I don't know who did it - fitting I suppose as we don't know who made the ancient marks either.

Now you've got your eye in , a couple of pictures of more faint markings. Sometimes the lichen helps show up the rings.

The whole outcrop.

Take away the telegraph pole and the dykes and perhaps this is pretty much the same view as would have been seen when the marks were made.

Time to go back. After a couple of hours wandering about in fields, it's quite good to get back on a road of some description.

No idea what stream this is but is was picturesque.

This partridge seemed pretty fearless standing at the side of the road - just as well I was only armed with a camera.


Shundo said...

Lovely post - I had never heard of cups and rings before. I do miss being on ancestral ground and around that kind of history. I bet it was a he though, the women would have been too busy to be doodling around on rocks...

Sandy's witterings said...

It's an interesting concept ancestoral ground Shundo. Itraced my family some years ago and a large chunk seemed solidily anchored here in Galloway as recorded history (or at least cowan recorded history) peetered out. By that far back in history, people didn't move nearly as much as they do now so it would be a fair assumption to say the people here 5000 years ago were probably partly me.

These ancient things for me are an important contact with the past and the way the world was before we changed it all - this little bit at least is, apart from the markings, or even because of the markings, exactly the same as it was 5000 years ago.

The Glebe Blog said...

Nice and ancient Sandy.Some of our old stones are reckoned to be older than Stonehenge.And don't forget the Gael first appeared in Galloway.
Love the Peewit in flight.

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

I'm always awed when folks on that side of the pond speak of ancient history in thousands of years while over here it's three or four hundred.

Crafty Green Poet said...

those cup and ring markings are fascinating,

lovely photos of the partridge

Sandy's witterings said...

Indeed Jim - Stonehenge is at the modern end of this kind of thing. Once you start to look, it's amazing how many ancient artifacts there are in Galloway.

Chip, I suspect at the time these stones were made, your kin were over this side of the pond too, so feel free to have a bit of a claim to these as well.

Thanks Juliet. I'm not sure if the museum on Chamber Street has anything of this type - it has some grand pictish stuff though.

The partridge was particularly compliant. Standing still makes a world of difference to a photo.

Janet at New Moon Glass said...

I envy your family history Sandy...Your blog posts are always very interesting and informative...about things I know nothing of! Love it...thanks.

Light-In-A-Box said...

I as well have never heard of cup & ring markings, very interesting.
It's always great to go for a hike & see a bit of history! Great pics Sandy...

Janie2 said...

Your history lessons are incredible, thanks! I would love to of seen the Partridge.

Sandy's witterings said...

Thank you all for your posting here. Bit of a delay in reply - it was a busy old end of the trip. Back on dry land now, so a bit of catching up then normal service will be resumed.