Ancient Monuments

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Clachmhor, cup-marked stone

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3456 / 57°20'44"N

Longitude: -4.4956 / 4°29'44"W

OS Eastings: 249919

OS Northings: 831099

OS Grid: NH499310

Mapcode National: GBR H989.PGH

Mapcode Global: WH3FS.XMDM

Entry Name: Clachmhor, cup-marked stone

Scheduled Date: 18 October 2006

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11435

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Urquhart and Glenmoriston

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument consists of a large flat triangular block of grey gneiss about 5m long, 3m broad and 0.3m thick, oriented N to S, containing a large number of cup-marks. It is situated on relatively flat ground above the upper break of a slope on a wide, steep valley, adjacent to a stream.

In 1882 W. Jolly claimed that this was "the finest cup-marked stone in the neighbourhood of Inverness". He recorded 113 cup-marks and claimed that there was evidence that the stone once formed part of a ring of boulders or standing stones. No sign of the ring of boulders remains and evidence was recorded in 1997 that suggested that someone had previously tried to move the stone. Of the cup-marks only 90 can be traced today, they are fairly weathered and measure up to 0.09m in diameter and 0.03m in depth, some occur in pairs.

The area to be scheduled is a 10m diameter circle, centred on the stone, to include the stone and any related archaeological deposits, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument's archaeological significance is as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a good example of its type, containing a large number of cup-mark symbols in a single place. Its position in the landscape is typical for this class of monument, nationally. However, like many others of its type, it is possible that this was later incorporated into a larger ritual monument, of which no other trace now survives and this is the only remnant signifier. Unlike north-east Scotland, where the majority of cup-marked stones have been incorporated into later ritual monuments, of 115 known in Highland only 12 have been used within stone circles, standing stones and cairns, and the majority of these lie on the edge of the low lying plain on the eastern edge of the Highlands. The meaning of the symbols on these classes of monuments is poorly understood and the preservation of any member of its type can only serve to preserve this class for study in the future.

Contextual characteristics: Examples of this class of monument rarely exist in isolation, and it has been recognised that each individual group of rock carvings forms a small part of a wider coherent system of rock carvings distributed along, or near to, the tops of valley systems, where they may mark out route-ways through the landscape. The meaning of the marks themselves is intriguing and enigmatic. It is possible that they are some form of ritualised expression and that the relationship between disparate groups of rock art represent a symbolic 'grammar'. Whether this boulder was not incorporated into a later ritual monument or is the last surviving part of a stone circle or burial cairn, the number of symbols means that this example is in a position to inform future work about the relationship of cup-mark symbols and later ritual practice.

National Importance:

The monument is of national importance because it is a good example of an easily recognised and widely appreciated monument type. The loss of this example, within a wider coherent system in this landscape, either as a cup-marked boulder that once stood alone, or as one that was later incorporated into a now destroyed more complex ritual monument, would affect our ability to understand this class of monument. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of how members of prehistoric communities in northern Scotland who carved these symbols, and/or those that came into contact with them in later periods, interacted with one another and with their environment.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NH43SE 2.


Jolly W 1882, 'On Cup-Marked Stones in the Neighbourhood of Inverness; With an Appendix on Cup-Marked Stones in the Western Islands', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 16, 300-401.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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