Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cup and ring marked boulder, 40m south of Treetops House

A Scheduled Monument in Lower Deeside, Aberdeen City

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Latitude: 57.1308 / 57°7'50"N

Longitude: -2.2348 / 2°14'5"W

OS Eastings: 385886

OS Northings: 804451

OS Grid: NJ858044

Mapcode National: GBR XH.GR2Y

Mapcode Global: WH9QV.N119

Entry Name: Cup and ring marked boulder, 40m S of Treetops House

Scheduled Date: 9 May 2022

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13751

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Peterculter

County: Aberdeen City

Electoral Ward: Lower Deeside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a boulder with approximately 36 prehistoric rock art motifs present on one surface. These motifs are likely to have been created around 4000 to 6000 years ago, during the Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age. The boulder is located in an area of field clearance within the outer garden ground of a residential property on a south-facing slope and at approximately 145m above sea level.   

The boulder measures approximately 1.1m by 0.9m by 1m. Photographic evidence indicates that it has been relocated at least once within the last 105 years. Of the 36 recorded motifs, researchers have observed 28 single cups, seven cups partly encircled with single ring marks and an eighth cup partly encircled with a double ring mark. 

The scheduled area is circular, measuring 4m in diameter. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's relocation is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17): 

a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past, or has the potential to do so. As a large, relocated boulder containing prehistoric abstract motifs, the monument is an important component of the contemporary prehistoric landscape, and a wider, Atlantic-European rock art tradition. 

b. The monument retains structural and decorative attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. One of the boulder's relatively flat panel bears up to 36 motifs - a mix of single cupmarks of broadly similar radii with cup and single ring marks and cup and double ring marks. The relative density, spatial arrangement and breadth of three motif styles is of particular interest.  

d.   The monument is a good example of a single boulder containing a relatively dense concentration of prehistoric cup and cup and ring mark motifs - an important representative of this monument type

e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding and appreciation of the past. The overall panel design and the individual motifs may represent an artistic and aesthetic form and a function which can help us understand values and beliefs in prehistoric life and society. 

f. Although relocated the monument is likely not to have been moved far. It therefore makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the prehistoric landscape in which it was located. It was a component of a wider complex of contemporary sites which included other examples of rock art, settlement and ceremonial monuments.  

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

The boulder has been relocated from an unknown position but thought to be within the local area. It is likely to have been moved during field clearance undertaken as  part of  historic agricultural improvements. As such, the original archaeological context of the boulder has been lost, however, there is surviving significance in the range and extent of abstract rock art motifs present on one of the boulder's faces. The individual cups and cup and ring motifs are familiar elements of rock art in Scotland but the presence of a dense group up to 36 recorded motifs is of particular interest. 

The individual motifs occupy separate spaces on one surface of the panel – this may reflect single or multiple episodes of carving and the presence of partial ring marks around some of the individual cups may reflect later embellishment of the simple cup design. Collectively, the markings represent a significant undertaking by the person or people who carved them. Only one of the boulder's panels is decorated, suggesting either a preference for carving on a single panel or that, when the boulder was in its original context, only this surface was available or visible. As well as its high intrinsic value as decorated monument, this carved boulder can enhance our understanding of the carving process and techniques, the relationship between individual motifs and the overall design as well as their meaning and symbolism. 

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Over 3000 panels containing Prehistoric rock art are known of in Scotland. The example at Blacktop contains a widespread and common type of motif, the cup mark (and cups embellished with outer rings or partial ring marks). These cup marks are part of a larger repertoire of abstract motifs with many of them circular or near-circular in form (such as in u-shaped, penannular, radial, grooved, rosette, key-hole and spiral examples). Other, linear or near-linear designs have been recorded on carved panels. 

The larger concentrations of rock art are found in Dumfries and Galloway, Central West Scotland including Argyll and Bute, Perthshire and around the inner Moray Firth and adjacent coasts, the adjoining area of the Great Glen and northeast Scotland. This panel is part of a regional cluster of approximately 100 examples located to the northeast of the Cairngorms. More locally, the boulder was co-located with a second carved boulder but this second example has not been found in recent decades. This and the other motifs present in Scottish rock art are strikingly similar to examples found across much of Atlantic Europe, from Spain to Scandinavia and including across the British Isles. In this regard, Scotland's prehistoric rock art is thought to belong to a much larger, European prehistoric tradition. 

Researchers suggest that rock art is also a component of contemporary prehistoric ritual landscapes and that it may have functioned at various levels: from the rock surface and decorated panels as representation of ancestral space; to the immediate area as a venue for ritual or ceremonial activity; to the wider landscape in which the panels are located and the likely connections they had with other broadly contemporary monuments. In this example, prehistoric hut circles survive in woodland to the northwest (CANMORE reference 348719) and in woodland to the east (CANMORE reference 348779). Blacktop is also located in a wider area of relatively dense and contemporary prehistoric activity, between the Rivers Dee and Don and most notably among the regionally distinctive group of the recumbent stone circles.    

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There is no associative character relevant to this monument.  

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 19403 (accessed on 01/03/2022).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference NJ80SE4 (accessed on 01/03/2022).

Scotland's Rock Art database Rock Art Database - Scotland's Rock Art Project reference number SCRAP ID 2707 (accessed on 01/03/2022).

Coles, F R, 1903, Notices of … (4) of some hitherto undescribed cup and ring-marked stones in, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 37, 1902-3. Pp 216

Ritchie, J, 1918 Cup-marks on the stone circles and standing-stones of Aberdeenshire and part of Banffshire in, Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 52, 1917-18. Pp 108-10


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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