Barharrow or as some call it Bar-Gharabh…

Hi Folks,

Yesterday we decided to take a second look at the area known as Barharrow, an area of land around Barharrow farm, near Borgue. The carvings were first recorded in 1995 by K Naddair and S Willet as part of the research done by The Keltic Research Society. Until 1995 no previous carvings had been recorded, in 2005 i first visited this area trying to find all the 8 previously recorded panels, without much luck, apart from panel number 8, though the marks i found at that time were to my mind completely natural. The fact that i could not find any other carvings, i put down to the panels being covered or that i was not experienced enough to find them. So almost 2 years later , we returned,this time knowing exactly where to look and what to look for…..

This is what Naddair & Willet claim to have found at the 8 locations, and to be fair he does mention the natural cups in his recordings…

Barharrow (Bar-Gharabh)
Nearly all the outcrops in this area are covered with numerous natural solution holes which have in many instances been incorporated into the petroglyph design.
Bar-Gharabh (1), NX 6210 5282.
On a prominent whaleback outcrop riddled with dozens of natural pits, there are c16 cups, 1 with an arching ring and 12 major runnels interconnecting these.
Bar-Gharabh (2), NX 6203 5275.
On the uppermost edge of a flat, pitted outcrop there are 2 (clearly pecked) keyhole rings, plus 3 adjacent cups, the rest of the rock is left to c40 natural pits.
Bar-Gharabh (3), NX 6233 5280.
A fractured, weathered outcrop bears 1 cup unclosed by 3 rings, 1 large cup enclosed by 2 oval rings; 4 cups enclosed by 1 ring each; 1 large shallow cup; 16 solo cups.
Bar-Gharabh (4), NX 6232 5278.
A small outcrop has 1 cup enclosed by 2 rings (the outer ring bisecting another cup and 1 ring); 4 other cups enclosed by 1 ring each; 6 solo cups.
Bar-Gharabh (5), NX 6225 5270.
A rough outcrop features 1 cup enclosed by 1 ring, clustered around which are a further 14 solo cups (1 having a longish runnel).
Bar-Gharabh (6), NX 6223 5265.
An outcrop nearest a field gate has 1 cup enclosed by 2 rings and 1 cup enclosed by 1 ring both bisected by a long runnel; 9 solo cups (1 possibly natural).
Bar-Gharabh (7), NX 6262 5293.
On the Dawn slope of a prominent outcrop (if approached from the gate in dyke, 80 paces to its NE) is a magnificent 5-6 revolution Deasuil spiral in excellent condition and over 12 inches (30cm) in diameter.
Bar-Gharabh (8), NX 6263 5330.
Only 20 yards from main road (A75) over a steep sided ditch on the conical E tip of a long outcrop are some eroded (though still deep motifs): 1 cup enclosed by 1 ring from which radiates 7 runnels (2 of which arch around to connect with 3 other cups). On an adjacent rock panel are several fainter cups and runnels.

This what Suzanne & myself found when we returned today…

On this visit we were were able to find the panels 1,2,3,4,5 & 6….7 again could not be found, and 8 was found on a previous visit.
I am going to show some photographs of panels 1 and 2, which in my opinion are completely natural. All the panels that were recorded in 1995 by Naddair & Willet are all natural, from the cups to the runnels. This whole area, indeed almost every rock outcrop has cups, all natural. From the 2 visits i have made to this area it is impossible to record these marks as man made, all that i found so far are totally natural.

The photographs below are of panels 1 & 2

Barharrow Panel 1 Barharrow panel 1 Panel 1 (cup & ring???)

Barharrow panel 2 Barharrow panel 2 Panel 2
Barharrow panels 1&2 this shows both panels 1 & 2

As you can see from the photographs taken these marks do look natural, the other panels i located yesterday are exactly the same, infact if you examine almost every outcrop within the 3 fields that contain the recorded carvings, you find natural depressions. I do find it hard to believe that these marks could be recorded as cup marks, but that certainly does seem to be what has happened.
I again could not locate panel 7, the magnificent spiral as Naddair called it, even having the grid refs, the number of paces from the gate, the slope of the rock, and finding the outcrop it should be on, there is nothing there, if it does exist it must be well hidden…again i would perhaps like to check the records for this panel in more detail, and to find out if Naddair & Willet photogaphed the spiral.

Brian & Suzanne


6 Responses to Barharrow or as some call it Bar-Gharabh…

  1. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Hob,

    The problem with the marks is that the whole area not just those panels are covered in those natural marks, exactly the same in every way. Anyone wanting to see them while over this way let me know…never in a month of whatever day you like can these be called cup marks….


    ps i do have a problem with alot of the work done by Naddair…atleast 3 sites i know in Galloway, made up or expanding the truth.

  2. hobsonish says:

    I’m sceptical about Naddairs claims since my visit to Slockavullin.
    I’m not saying he gets it wrong, I’m just not sure that his threshold for natural vs artificial is a bit rose tinted i favour of the artificial.

    But it does bring up interesting thoughts about the enhanced natural feature concept.
    I can’t help but think of the thingy youse found a while back that seemed a bit like a natural focus for an area of CnrR(can’t recall the name, soz..).
    It also remonds me of a couple of strange things lurking round my way, Suz has photographed one of them, up by St Cuthberts Cave in Northumberland, there’s another one near Hunterheugh. Both are whalebacks that look naturally eroded, but in a way that is totally inconsistent with weathering on other rocks nearby. It’s tempting to think that these might be very, (VERY) eroded bits of ‘enhanced natural features’.

    The whole idea of significant natural forms intrigues me at the moment. Pre-monumenal monuments kind thang.

  3. Cupstones says:

    Thats a puzzler of a site you have there Brian, I can see what Jan means about the grooves in the photo, they do look more artificial compared to the hollows. Maybe if KN and Co originally uncovered the outcrops, and it was all clean and fresh, perhaps some of the cups looked better at that time?????
    If you can find the ‘excellent condition’ spiral again, it might inspire abit more confidence for the other bits.

  4. rockartuk says:

    Cheers Brian!
    Maybe its a good idea to sent a couple of pics to Les & Sue Knight. Maybe the can give an explanation for this kind of natural holes. Was not “Dolorite” a kind of sandstone which shows these cup-like hollows?
    A report to D&E Scotland could lead to an up-date in the Canmore files.
    Or is that the task of the D&G County archaeologist?
    All the best,

  5. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Jan,

    The panel we found in 2005 was number 8, on the opposite side of the road..

    this shows the layout of the panels.

    Barharrow Map

    Hope this helps..


  6. rockartuk says:

    Hi B&S,
    Thanks for posting the Barharrow experience! At least the weather was good!
    Are these panels far from the one which you recorded in August 2005:
    It is very curious indeed that Mr Naddair reported the panels as being genuine cup-marks. Maybe status was gained by quantity instead of quality.
    However, I agree that the cups don’t look good but the “runnels” or grooves are quite another story. Their pattern does suggest that they were man-made or enhanched.
    It would be a kind of unique if they were caused by weathering only.
    For sake of completeness, I’m thinking of loading your photos up to BRAC, Brian!

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