MHG2650 - Cup-marked stone - Coulnabottach, Urchany (1)


A cup-marked stone at Coulnabottach, Urchany.

Type and Period (1)

  • CUP MARKED STONE (Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC? to 551 BC?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A well known cup-marked boulder, 6 1/2 by 6 by 3 feet, of hard dark grey mica-schist, stands earthfast about 6 yards from the door of the ruined gamekeeper's house of Urchany. The surface bears over 40 cup-marks, some of which have been tampered with. Two of the cups are connected.
W Jolly 1882

As described above, this cup-marked boulder was located at NH 4479 4576. Approx. 40 cup-marks were seen; only about half this number were prominent, the remainder may have been caused by weathering and appeared as slight indentations on the surface of the boulder.
Visited by OS (R B) 7 July 1965

The North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NoSAS) undertook an archaeological survey of Urchany in 2015.

Site V108; A cup-marked stone (Urchany 1 in Scotland’s Rock Art Project database). Four metres in front of the wall between the middle and eastern compartments of the building (see MHG62155) stands a prominent boulder into which a number of artificial cups have been created. William Jolly, a well-known local antiquarian, recorded and drew a cup-marked stone at Urchany in an article in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1882. The stone was recognised during the NOSAS 2015 survey, but recorded in more detail in 2018 as part of Scotland’s Rock Art Project. <1>

NGR adjusted based on 2009 aerial photographs. <2>

This panel was recorded as part of the ScRAP (Scotlands Rock Art project) by members of NoSAS in January 2017. On a break in the extensive south-facing slope of the north bank of the Breakachy Burn, 7.5kms from Beauly, are the substantial stone remains of two houses and surrounding enclosure walls. This represents the old settlement of Coulnabottach, part of the Lands of Urchany, in which people were still living at the time of the 1871 survey. In front of the eastern of the two ruined houses is the cup-marked stone that was described by William Jolly in 1881 (PSAS 1881-2, 16, p359). At that time he said the stone "was recently discovered by Mr. Forbes of Teanassie School, who has searched the surrounding country for cups, etc." The settlement and the stone face south with extensive views over the lands of Teanassie, Breakachy and Kiltarlity. The Breakachy Burn lies 85 m below, and 700m south. A small burn, periodic in the summer, lies 200m to the east. An enclosure bank runs 10m south, and a modern post-and-mesh fence lies 50m up the slope to the north, behind the ruined buildings. There is a well-defined track leading from Upper Farley, at the end of a metalled road, to the settlement of Coulnabottach. Across the Breakachy Burn, and 500m to the east, lies Dun Mor (scheduled monument, Canmore ID SM4979), one of five duns on the braes west of Beauly. It can be seen from the stone. The surrounding gently sloping hillsides contain an extensive and rich multi-period archaeological environment with numerous features and structures dating from early Bronze Age to the improvements of the 19th century - field systems, banks and dykes, hut circles, burial cairns, a scheduled bowl barrow, ruined 18th & 19th century houses, etc.

In 1881 William Jolly described the stone as: "It is a carried boulder of hard, darkgrey mica schist, 6 feet 6 inches by 6 feet, and 3 feet thick, still partly underground, with irregular upper surface. It is shown in Fig. 62. It contains above forty cups, on a pretty smooth surface. Those marked (1) are less distinct than the rest but are clearly cupped. A nail has been driven into the cup, at (x), where it may have been partially bored for blasting. Only two of the cups are connected, Nos. 14 and 15. A part of the stone on the left side is 6 inches lower than the rest, and the stone has structural cracks in several places. The stone has been considerably worn from being so near the house, and some of the cups may have been tampered with." (He then describes each of the individual cups - diameter and depth. There is a diagram in the original text). In November 2017 it is much as described - a large prominent boulder lying about 4m in front of a ruined building. It lies E-W, ie along the contours of the slope, and is 2.6m long by 1.57m wide. The boulder has several fissures separating the carved upper surface into a number of linked panels. A total of 41 cup shaped depressions were identified, one of which to the north side had the metal spike described by Jolly in 1881. The deepest and widest cups are found on the western side of the upper surface. No obvious pattern to the cups. This site was visited at a later date by a member of the Scotland's Rock Art project team, who interpreted around 15-20 of the depressions as man-made cup marks, where the others were thought to be natural features. It is possible that a number of the cup marks were originally natural features that have been enhanced by human hands. <3>

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NH 4479 4576 (4m by 4m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH44NW
Civil Parish KILMORACK
Geographical Area INVERNESS

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