Skip to main content

Achnabreac forest near Lochgilphead is the site of the latest prehistoric art to be discovered in the Argyll area. Cup and ring marks were revealed on a rock in the forest following storms in January 2008.

Believed to be around 5,000 years old, the rock is a rare discovery and is inscribed with a dice-like carving. It sits high above the mouth of Kilmartin Glen and directly overlooks other rock art at Cairnbaan.

Mystery of Argyll's rock art

Its close location to the other rock art sites, visual relationship with both sites and the similar complexity of design suggests that all three sites are connected. The new site, one of the three largest ring-marked sites in Britain,  may help solve the mystery surrounding rock art in Argyll, an area renowned for its archaeological importance.
The rock art was discovered during a routine inspection of trees that had been blown down or uprooted due to high winds.

The importance of the site and the reasons for the carvings remain a topic of speculation and despite public and academic interest, the meaning of the symbols remains mysterious.

Marking boundaries or territory?

Achnabreac cup ringmarks

This picture shows the cup and ring marks on rocks in Achnabreac Forest, Argyll.

It’s known the symbols date back to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Initially the carvings were found on boulders and outcrops of rock overlooking major routes, hunting grounds, water-holes and hunting spots.

This suggests a link with herding or hunting wild animals, although the presence on hillsides may indicate that they mark out boundaries between farmland and wild ground - perhaps an association with territorial ownership.

Later on, many boulders were incorporated into burials and cairns where they separate boundaries between sacred areas.

Visiting Achnabreac cup and ring marks

The exact location of the Achnabreac cup and ring marks is NR 855 906.

Achnabreac is around 2 miles north of Lochgilphead on the A816. From the car park, a short path leads to the cup and ring marked stones. Details of the path and how to get there are on the Achnabreac web page.

All sites managed by Forestry and Land Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.

Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.

Access for the public

The rock is very close to the popular Fire Tower mountain bike trail, which was partially re-routed to ensure the carving is protected, as well as to open up access for people wanting to view the rock.

Our website uses cookies.
By continuing, we assume your permission to deploy cookies, as detailed in our Privacy and Cookies policies.