Scheduled Monument

Tordarroch, cupmarks 220m NE ofSM11558

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cupmarks or cup-and-ring marks and similar rock art
Local Authority
Daviot And Dunlichity
NH 67909 33640
267909, 833640


This monument comprises two large earthfast boulders bearing cupmarks, prehistoric symbols between 3500 and 5000 years old. The two boulders are situated 11m apart from each other on a rocky knoll surrounded by improved pasture, located on the valley floor of upper Strathnairn at 195m above sea level.

The boulder at NH 67912 33621 is situated on top of a knoll and has at least 25 cupmarks on its level upper facing surface. The cupmarks are up to 100mm in diameter and up to 25mm deep. The boulder is 1.5m in length by 1.5m in breadth and up to 0.5m in height. The second boulder, at NH 67925 33622, is situated on the east side of the knoll and has at least two worn cupmarks on its sloping upper facing surface. The cupmarks are up to 100mm in diameter and up to 25mm in depth. The boulder is 3.7m in length by 1m in breadth and rises to 0.75m in height at one side while being earthfast in the slope on the opposite side.

Prehistoric rock art (cupmarks, cup-and-ring marks and related designs) are found on Bronze-Age and Neolithic funerary and ritual monuments, such as the Clava cairns in Strathnairn, and also on exposed rock surfaces or natural boulders. Why such hollows and grooves were carefully pecked or ground into stones is unknown. There are many theories about the purpose of cupmarks which are generally thought to have had some religious or ritual symbolism rather than being simply decorative art.

The area to be scheduled is sub-circular on plan, to include the two cupmarked boulders and an area around in which associated evidence for their use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the modern fence on part of its perimeter, to allow for its maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a good example of a form of rock art probably dating to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The large number of cupmarks decorating one of the boulders makes it particularly distinctive and its location, on the top of a knoll in the valley floor, is a good vantage point and ensures a visual relationship with other prehistoric monuments in the vicinity.

Contextual characteristics: The possible inter-relationship with the nearby Clava cairn at Tordarroch, where cupmarks are also to be found, considerably adds to the interest and the value of these cupmarked boulders. Here as in other parts of Scotland there is a close correlation between the distribution of rock art and certain types of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ritual monuments. If this inter-relationship is accepted, the monument forms part of a complex of ritual prehistoric monuments. Its form and location can be compared and contrasted to similar monuments in Strathnairn and elsewhere in NE Scotland to contribute to the understanding of regional identity and society in the prehistoric period.

National importance: This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of prehistoric rock art. Carvings such as these remain an intriguing enigma. Nevertheless, the probability that it relates to a wider prehistoric ritual landscape in Strathnairn, including the Tordarroch Clava-type cairn close by, means it has the potential to contribute to the understanding of funerary practice and prehistoric society in this locality and Scotland as a whole. The loss of the monument would therefore damage our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.



RCAHMS record the monument as NH63SE 16, and the Highland Council SMR as NH63SE0016.


RCAHMS, NH63SE 16, Tordarroch Cup-Markings, C26297 (1994).


Beckensall S 1999, BRITISH PREHISTORIC ROCK ART, Tempus.

Jolly W 1882, 'On cup-marked stones in the neighbourhood of Inverness; with an appendix on cup-marked stones in the Western Islands', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 16, 345-6.

RCAHMS 1994, UPPER STRATHNAIRN, INVERNESS: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY, Summary Report, Edinburgh, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 02/04/2023 06:28