Kilmichael Glassary’s carvings are unique among the many rock art sites in Kilmartin Glen. They’re characterised by the large cup marks with long stretches of gutter, similar to those at Cairnbaan, and, unusually, at least four keyhole-shaped marks.
There are also at least 47 plain cup marks, or circular hollows in the stone, and five cups with single rings.
What do the symbols mean?
We can only speculate what about the meanings Kilmartin Glen’s Neolithic inhabitants attached to these markings. The carvings are abstract and contain no animal or human figures.
It’s been argued that the rock art should be regarded as a series of messages with meanings dependent on their landscape. Complex carvings, like those at Cairnbaan, usually occur near lowland sites, while carvings on higher ground tend to be more simple.
A prehistoric landscape
A rich prehistoric landscape survives in Kilmartin Glen, providing a tantalising insight into its prehistoric population. The surviving rock art along the glen is remarkable for the number of elaborately carved outcrops, the style of and extent of the carvings, and their close association with other prehistoric monuments. No other place in Scotland has such a concentration of prehistoric carved stone surfaces, and Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments.
Other carved rock outcrops around Kilmartin Glen include:
Other monuments include:
- Dunadd Hill Fort
- Dunchraigaig Cairn
- Glebe Cairn
- Nether Largie North Cairn
- Nether Largie Mid Cairn
- Nether Largie South Cairn
- Ri-Cruin Cairn
- Temple Wood Stone Circle
The glen is also home to an important collection of medieval sculptured stones.