Ancient Monuments

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New Craig, cupmarked boulder 230m WNW of

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Formartine, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.357 / 57°21'25"N

Longitude: -2.424 / 2°25'26"W

OS Eastings: 374588

OS Northings: 829689

OS Grid: NJ745296

Mapcode National: GBR N9C8.Q77

Mapcode Global: WH8NG.QBXX

Entry Name: New Craig, cupmarked boulder 230m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12154

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Daviot

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Mid Formartine

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises a large single boulder bearing a group of prehistoric rock art motifs (cupmarks) of likely Bronze-Age date. It is located in a mature, fenced conifer woodland, surrounded by arable land at approximately 155m above sea level. The boulder sits on a gentle NE-facing slope, approximately 100m east of a low N-S running ridge on the N side of Strathdon.

The above-ground portion of the earthfast boulder is approximately 2.7m wide, 1.2m broad and 1m high. It bears as many as 19 individual cup carvings although only seven were seen during the field inspection, with the remainder covered by a thick blanket of moss. These seven were evenly spaced along the curved edge of a large depression in the boulder, on its SW side, facing a nearby recumbent stone circle (scheduled as Newcraig, stone circle 200m W of). Each of the cupmarks in the group is broadly of the same circular shape and size (at approximately 60mm diameter and 10-15mm deep). Previous researchers have measured the remaining cups at between 50mm and 80mm in diameter and between 10mm and 20mm deep, and describe them as placed on the boulder's top surface.

Prehistoric rock art motifs such as cupmarks, rings, and combinations of the two and other less common abstract designs are generally found on exposed rock surfaces or within the structure of Neolithic and Bronze-Age funerary and ritual monuments. Their accurate dating and purpose is still largely unknown and current interpretations suggest that their position in the landscape and inter-relationship with other contemporary monuments is significant. Archaeologists generally think that they had more of a symbolic meaning than simple decoration.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This substantial boulder bears a well-preserved set of single design rock-art motifs, in the form of cupmarks. The monument has good potential to help us understand more of the nature and distribution of rock-art sites, particularly where their survival has been skewed by the removal of boulders and rocks from more fertile, lower ground under regimes of agricultural improvement. The potential exists for remains associated with human activity at the site to survive as buried deposits beneath and around the monument, and this may help explain more about the history of its use and function.

Contextual characteristics

Cupmarked stones are part of wider tradition of prehistoric carving that appears in concentrations across Scotland from the Northern Isles to Dumfries and Galloway. Strathdon is no different in that it displays a dense group (almost 60) of these monuments and, as with other geographic concentrations, they tend to be placed in association with broadly contemporary monuments. Prehistoric people used a variety of stone mediums, from shallow outcrops to boulders, and the abstract carving of structural components to other contemporary monuments. Their position in the landscape is thought to be significant and in the case of New Craig it is positioned just downslope from the higher ground to the south-west and in full view of Bennachie, which are two common attributes of prehistoric monuments in this part of Strathdon. What signifies the importance of New Craig is not just its position in the landscape and its proximity to the nearby recumbent stone circle, 30m south-west of this stone, but the grouping and position of the individual carvings that seem to respect the microtopography of the boulder. Often recumbent stone circles incorporate similar motifs in their flankers or other component stones, but what is relatively uncommon is the adjacent presence of a carved boulder. Beside New Craig, only one other example exists in Strathdon. The monument has the potential to reveal more about the placement and setting of rock art within a landscape, as well as its function. As such, it can contribute to the understanding of regional identity and society in the prehistoric period.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the use and significance of rock art in prehistoric society and the role it plays with other contemporary ritual, funerary and domestic monuments in the wider landscape. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand and appreciate the prehistoric landscape of NE Scotland, as well as Scotland as a whole.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NJ72NW 4. Aberdeenshire Council SMR records the site as NJ72NW0004.

References:

Browne G F 1921, ON SOME ANTIQUITIES IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF DUNECHT HOUSE ABERDEENSHIRE, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Coles F R 1902, 'Report on stone circles in Aberdeenshire (Inverurie, Eastern Parishes and Insch Districts), with measured plans and drawings, obtained under the Gunning Fellowship', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 36, 524.

Coles F R 1903, 'Notices of (1) the camp at Montgoldrum in Kincardineshire; (2) a stone circle called The Harestones in Peebleshire; (3) a cairn and standing stones at Old Liston, and other standing stones in Midlothian and Fife; (4) of some hitherto undescribed cup and ring-marked stones; and (5) recent discoveries of urns', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 37, 226-7.

Morris R W B 1989, 'The prehistoric rock art of Great Britain: a survey of all sites bearing motifs more complex than simple cup-marks', PROC PREHIST SOC 55, 45-89.

RCAHMS [Draft], IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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