Ancient Monuments

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Tordarroch, cupmarks 220m north east of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.374 / 57°22'26"N

Longitude: -4.1983 / 4°11'53"W

OS Eastings: 267909

OS Northings: 833640

OS Grid: NH679336

Mapcode National: GBR J907.7NC

Mapcode Global: WH4GW.HX1D

Entry Name: Tordarroch, cupmarks 220m NE of

Scheduled Date: 29 August 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11558

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


This monument comprises two large earthfast boulders bearing cupmarks, prehistoric symbols between 3500 and 5000 years old. The two boulders are situated 11m apart from each other on a rocky knoll surrounded by improved pasture, located on the valley floor of upper Strathnairn at 195m above sea level.

The boulder at NH 67912 33621 is situated on top of a knoll and has at least 25 cupmarks on its level upper facing surface. The cupmarks are up to 100mm in diameter and up to 25mm deep. The boulder is 1.5m in length by 1.5m in breadth and up to 0.5m in height. The second boulder, at NH 67925 33622, is situated on the east side of the knoll and has at least two worn cupmarks on its sloping upper facing surface. The cupmarks are up to 100mm in diameter and up to 25mm in depth. The boulder is 3.7m in length by 1m in breadth and rises to 0.75m in height at one side while being earthfast in the slope on the opposite side.

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 sub-circular on plan, to include the two cupmarked boulders and an area around in which associated evidence for their use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the modern fence on part of its perimeter, to allow for its maintenance.

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 good example of a form of rock art probably dating to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The large number of cupmarks decorating one of the boulders makes it particularly distinctive and its location, on the top of a knoll in the valley floor, is a good vantage point and ensures a visual relationship with other prehistoric monuments in the vicinity.

Contextual characteristics: The possible inter-relationship with the nearby Clava cairn at Tordarroch, where cupmarks are also to be found, considerably adds to the interest and the value of these cupmarked boulders. 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. If this inter-relationship is accepted, the monument forms part of a complex of ritual prehistoric monuments. Its form and location can be compared and contrasted to similar monuments in Strathnairn and elsewhere in NE Scotland to contribute to the 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. Nevertheless, the probability that it relates to a wider prehistoric ritual landscape in Strathnairn, including the Tordarroch Clava-type cairn close by, means 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 therefore damage our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH63SE 16, and the Highland Council SMR as NH63SE0016.


RCAHMS, NH63SE 16, Tordarroch Cup-Markings, C26297 (1994).


Beckensall S 1999, BRITISH PREHISTORIC ROCK ART, Tempus.

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, 345-6.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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