Ancient Monuments

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Milton of Farr, cupmarks 110m south east of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3641 / 57°21'50"N

Longitude: -4.1898 / 4°11'23"W

OS Eastings: 268384

OS Northings: 832520

OS Grid: NH683325

Mapcode National: GBR J908.5K3

Mapcode Global: WH4H2.M52G

Entry Name: Milton of Farr, cupmarks 110m SE of

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11556

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cupmarks or cup-and-ring marks and similar rock art

Location: Daviot and Dunlichity

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises a large earthfast boulder bearing prehistoric symbols between 3500 and 5000 years old known as cupmarks (pecked and/or ground circular depressions). The boulder is situated at NH 68384 32520 and lies in improved pasture on a gentle slope near the edge of a wood at 200m above sea level, between the rivers Nairn and Farnack in Upper Strathnairn.

The boulder is isolated from several other large boulders in the same field and measures 2.9m from NE to SW by 2.6m transversely and 0.9m in height at its SW end. The surface is inclined towards the NE. The boulder bears at least 30 cupmarks up to 90mm in diameter. The cupmarks are unevenly weathered although the best preserved are up to 400mm deep.

Prehistoric rock art (cupmarks, cup-and-ring marks and related designs) are found on Bronze-Age and Neolithic funerary and ritual monuments, such as the Clava cairns in Strathnairn, and also on exposed rock surfaces or natural boulders. Why such hollows and grooves were carefully pecked or ground into stones is unknown. There are many theories about the purpose of cupmarks which are generally thought to have had some religious or ritual symbolism rather than being simply decorative art.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the cupmarked boulder and an area around in which associated evidence for its use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a well-preserved example of a form of rock art probably dating to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The large number of cupmarks present on the boulder makes it particularly distinctive. Excavations in Ireland and Scotland, as well as Scandinavia, are now finding archaeological evidence for human activity in the immediate vicinity of such carvings.

Contextual characteristics: The monument is one of many ritual prehistoric monuments in the region. Here as in other parts of Scotland there is a close correlation between the distribution of rock art and certain types of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ritual monuments. For example, Strathnairn contains several cemeteries of Clava cairns which themselves incorporate cupmarked stones. Comparing this monument's form and location to similar monuments in Strathnairn and elsewhere in NE Scotland would contribute to our understanding of regional identity and society in the prehistoric period.

National importance: This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of prehistoric rock art. Carvings such as these remain an intriguing enigma. It is probable that the monument relates to a wider prehistoric ritual landscape in Strathnairn. Therefore it has the potential to contribute to the understanding of funerary practice and prehistoric society in this locality and Scotland as a whole. The loss of the monument would damage our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH63SE320; Highland Council SMR as NH63SE0032.


Beckensall S 1999, BRITISH PREHISTORIC ROCK ART, Tempus.

RCAHMS 1994, UPPER STRATHNAIRN, INVERNESS: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY, Edinburgh, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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