Historic Environment Scotland has been awarded £807,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to uncover information about Scotland’s Neolithic rock art.

Around 6,000 rocks with 'cup-and-ring' carvings are known in Britain, with over 2,000 located in Scotland.

'Scotland's Rock Art in context: placement, re-placement and engagement' will work with local communities and heritage organisations across the country to generate a digital database of Scottish rock art, including 2D and 3D models. The database will be used to inform a detailed, contextual analysis of the carvings, and to address key research questions.

The carvings, thought to date from the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.4000-2000 BC), form part of a broader European rock art tradition. Their purpose and significance to prehistoric and more recent communities is poorly understood.

Rebecca Bailey, who led the grant application for Historic Environment Scotland, said: 

“We are absolutely delighted to have secured our first very substantial research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project will be a co-production between our expert staff, academic partners and community groups, in keeping with our vision that the historic environment is understood, shared and enjoyed by everyone. We look forward to the teams getting out into the field, making new discoveries, generating new knowledge, and sharing that on an international stage.”

The 5 year project will be launched in early 2017, and will be led for HES by Principal Investigator Dr Tertia Barnett. Co-investigators from Edinburgh University and Glasgow School of Art will also be involved, with project partners Archaeology Scotland, Kilmartin Museum, and the North of Scotland Archaeology Society (NOSAS).

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