Townhead….the special carvings.

Hi Folks,

We were back at Townhead again yesterday looking for one really special carving that is found at the site, but ended up finding two really special carvings. The first one we found is known as panel 3g, or the panel containing the ‘Triskele’, a motif that is not found at any other rock art site in Britain, this alone makes it such a special carving, the quality of the carving, every peck mark still showing, the way you can see how the carver has made the carving, making the ring, making a central cup and then working out from the cup to make the 3 grooves to form the triskele or as some call it the steering wheel. This carving was first found by Kaledon Naddair and his team in 1989, along with most of the unrecorded panels at Townhead, some of the other carvings were found in the same year by Maarten van Hoek. The second really nice carving is known as 3d, this one in more the classic style of carvings, a similar style of motif can be seen at various rock art sites within Britain, but not perhaps as fresh as this one.

Take a look at the pictures, and enjoy….

panel 3g

panel 3g1 panel 3g 2 panel 3g 3

panel 3d

panel 3d 1 panel 3d 2 panel 3d 3

These and more of the carvings at Townhead can be seen on BRAC & TMA. Please remember this site is on private land, the carvings are all covered apart from Townhead 1, which is open for the public to visit, but special permission was given by the farm owner Mr McCall to visit and record the covered panels. Again enjoy the photographs,and those of you we will see on June 10th have something to look forward to…

Brian & Suzanne


8 Responses to Townhead….the special carvings.

  1. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Graeme,

    Yeah that is the site i was working from, i managed to get a couple of telephone numbers but no luck with either. I will try the po box number, it might still be working we shall see.
    I noticed when you do a google search for him or his work etc, there does seem to be a long list of books etc, but not a huge availability of it though.

    ps what was the talk in Leeds about? was it a good un?

  2. Cupstones says:

    Quite a few years back (mid 1990’s?) KN did a talk down in leeds and he had several copies of the Townhead booklet with him. I blagged one then – although i think they were home produced – so there may never have been that many copies about. This probably applies to many of his publications.

    I googled this web address (a wordpress site!) for him a while back which lists some of his work and has a recent PO box contact address. it looks like they might still be available in some format?

    KELTIA PUBLICATIONS, P.O.Box 307, Dun Eideann(Edinburgh), EH9 1XA, Alba(Scotland),

    I think Paul Bennett did have some contact with him when he was living in Kilmartin – not sure what they got up to though 🙂
    ………oops forgot about solfest – best see if i can get some tickets.

  3. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Graeme,

    Just out of interest, could you tell me how you got a hold of the Kaledon paper, trying to track down Keltia Publications seems inpossible. I have telephone numbers etc, but nothing. I kinda think that Paul did some work with Kaledon back in the day, i am sure i read something somewhere about that…anyway, if you had any contact details for Kaledon that would be a help..

    ps you going to Solfest this year…got our tickets bought.

  4. Cupstones says:

    I have a memory like a sieve, i had forgot about the work by KN at townhead – although i vaguely knew i had seen a drawing of that particular rock somewhere!
    It will be great to actually see some of the carvings in June.

  5. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Graeme,

    Certainly is a special place, i would guess that Townhead could well be the best rock art site in the uk, if not the best site, it certainly has the best preserved carvings of any site in the uk.The carvings are all so fresh and unweathered, comparing the difference on some of the exposed panels with the covered ones certainly does tend to favour covering the panels back up.
    The cup you mention is both natural and man made, a deep basin that has been worked, you can see the peck marks around the edge of the basin/cup, again showing the link between natural rock features and the carvings. Another carving i like is panel 3b which i feel shows a carved basin or cup, but just below that is the start of a similar almost indentical basin or cup, with grooves joining both together…panel 3b.

    Yes indeed you are correct about drawings, one of the biggest influences on my work, has been Maarten van Hoek, i am proud to have a copy of his Galloway unpublished work, the centre piece of my collection, for the past year or so i have been using his book as my main guide. I do not publish is sketches, that i leave ro my good friend Jan, who has the permission of Maarten to use his sketches etc..I have respect for Maarten and his work, nearly all of it is extremely accurate.
    I now have a copy of the excellent work done by Naddair at Townhead, which you yourself gave me Graeme at last years RAM, as it has been over a year since i have been to Townhead i was never able to use the Naddair paper, having Maartens work was always good enough for me, this past week of so being back at Townhead i have had the good fortune to have the use of both works for the site, both being very accurate, Maarten’s work is more accurate in terms of using the correct locations, names etc for the panels, Naddair’s work for example for the sketches of the panels is more accurate, this is thanks to his girlfriend at the time Linda Lees, who made sketches from the photographs they took, but Maarten sketched the panels on site. I also do not know why Kaledon had to mess around with the site numbers, Morris had started off the numbering sequence, Maarten followed on, but Naddair in 1989 decided to renumber the whole collection. To Naddair’s credit he did find alot of the sites at Townhead, i do not know if they would have came to light if he had not found them, i think they would have, if not by Maarten, who had a big love for this site, then i like to think i would have perhaps made a find or two…indeed i think i have,lol…
    As far as showing the sketches made by Kaledon go, that is something i will not do as to the copyright issue, also you are probably all aware that i am not his biggest fan, though i do respect some of his work, perhaps Townhead being the best i have seen so far, other work i am not so sure about. I also am not keen on the coloured chalks that were used on the panels at Townhead by Kaledon, i have some of the colour pics of this, but at present i am still trying to get my hands on a copy of the proper book or paper that Kaledon did for the Townhead & Milton area, no luck yet..still trying.
    I do feel something special for this area called Townhead, i feel protective of the carvings that i regard as the best in the uk…that is why i am looking forward to showing the ones that join us at the RAM this year some of the carvings..

    all the best

  6. Cupstones says:

    Just shows with good light you can really capture the detail on well preserved carvings like these.
    Wondering if there are any drawings of these carved rocks?
    Plus is that a natural feature/cup with the 3 rings around it? its an interesting layout.

    …………questions ….. questions?

  7. rockartwolf says:

    hi Jan,

    indeed you noticed 3c is not shown yet, was purely the time factor and the lack of it, lol..still got to go back and finish off 3c and perhaps do a complete 3h which has more than just the dumbell and cup and square ring.

    I think i know what you mean by the triskele, would be good to perhaps find out more.


  8. rockartuk says:

    Hi Brian and Suzanne,
    Yet another great addition to the extensive Townhead site. Many thanks for the splendid photos.
    It is safe to say that Townhead equals Achnabreck for the variety of motifs and the amazing rosettes.
    The triskele is indeed a strange duck in the pond; could it be a (much?) later addition?
    Was there a reason not to photograph panel 3c? There is a marker in your anotated overall photo of the site (3a-c).
    No hurry though…. the 10th of June is fine!

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