Cairnholy – Galloway

I visited Cairn Holy on Sunday, met a guy who showed me a cup and ring carving on one of the stones at Cairn Holy I. Very difficult to see, but almost obvious once I was shown where it was. It was so erroded that there was no way I would be able to take a photo, it needs low level torch light to bring it out.

We also noticed a pattern of “carvings” or striations on the right hand portal stone, these marks spiral around the circumfrence of the stone:


Has anyone else noticed these carvings? Do you think the carvings on the portal stone are deliberate, intentional, and man-made?



edited 22-11-2008


Hi Folks,

I visited Cairnholy today and took some images of the marks Nicola mentions..take a look, interesting.



Marks at Cairnholy 1

Marks at Cairnholy 1


7 Responses to Cairnholy – Galloway

  1. Neolithic stone axe polishing marks have been recorded on the portal stone of Cairnholy I. Were these marks on the portal (porch) stone. Id be very interested to hear from you as I am writing about this in my thesis and the photographs are fantastic.

  2. Nicola says:

    That photo really does show the effect of the spiral well, it would be an odd weathering pattern… I love a good mystery 🙂

  3. rockartuk says:

    In this old (1993) scaned photograph, the up- or downwards spiralling line of the holes on the right entrance stone is clearly visible:
    Are these holes really the work of (such a clever!) mother nature? Looking at the photo, doubt strucks!
    What do you think?

  4. Nicola says:

    So the marks could be ancient, intentional, and used to quarry the stone from the bedrock…. Not art but still very interesting…
    Hope you had a great day up there, its such a fantastic area
    Nicola 🙂

  5. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Folks,

    Been to visit Cairnholy today, had a good look at the marks, i feel they are either natural geology or made during the construction of the stones, the main thing is the marks or gouges are the same size and shape..
    take a look at the pic i have added using side flash and you will see what i mean, also what Nicola was mentioning about the spiral s type shape of the marks..


  6. rockartwolf says:

    Hi Nicola,
    glad we got you to the blog eventually..
    As Jan says i think we have all noticed the markings on the right hand portal stone, but i believe they look natural, or atleast if man made not intended as rock art. I agree the marks all look similar to each other, which probably means they are some type of geological issue, with weathering being involved. I saw those marks the very first time i went to Cairnholy, and i did think to myself, are they more recent marks that had perhaps been done while excavating the site? or at some other time in our recent past, as can be seen from the images when the site was still covered up, it looks alot different now as it did before the excavation.
    As Jan says walking around the rest of the Cairnholy site you do get a definate feel for the type of carvings around the Cairnholy valley.
    Still i shall be back at Cairnholy soon enough for some more flash work, so i’ll check out the marks Nicola.

  7. rockartuk says:

    Hi there Nicola,
    Welcome to BRAB!
    Yes, I’ve seen those paw looking holes on the entrance stone but I wasn’t triggered because it is so far from the traditional motifs which we see on and around the Cairnholy sites.
    The absence of pock marks suggest that they most probably are holes fabricated by mother Nature over thousands of years when the stone was still recumbent or part of an outcrop.
    I agree with you that they are placed in some sort of pattern but I couldn’t make out a clockwise spiral. Maybe I looked from the wrong angle.
    Thanks again and we hope to hear/see more!

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