Ancestral Marks

There are stones as old as time, which lie scattered across the high ground around Killmartin Glen. They are covered with furrows and grooves, with cups and rings, cut by the hands of our far distant ancestors. Men and women who lived, worshiped and died among these hills and waters, and who marked these rocks as special.
We no longer understand the stories and wisdom carried in these symbols, but they remain, tugging at our minds and hearts, whispering of the long past. To me the swirls and circles make the hard stones look like flowing water, a place between the worlds of earth and water. A place between the past and present, between ghosts and kin, between the living and the dead. I wonder what they make you think of, and what questions they leave in your mind?
Here is a link to the Historic Scotland page about these rocks, for all the fact and history lovers out there!

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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42 Responses to Ancestral Marks

  1. westerner54 says:

    Just returned from another trip to Utah, exploring canyons and looking for rock art. It’s so much more evocative when it’s in context, isn’t it? Looking at a slab of rock with these incredible images in a museum is nowhere near the same. The swirly images seem to appear again and again, even thousands of years later in the southwest – fascinating.

    • Its truely amazing the way that shapes and patterns….and stories and myths….seem to bubble up in familiar shapes all across the globe, all across the human timescale. In psychotherapeutic terms we might wonder if these images come from our collective unconcious…shared by all humans across time ๐Ÿ™‚
      I can only agree that seeing them in place within the landscape has a much deeper impact.

  2. LB says:

    Oh my gosh! speculated to be 5000 years old! Seonaid, is this rock art protected somehow?
    When we are long gone, there will be no mystery … it makes the unknown even more fascinating!

    • Most of it is completely unprotected, but there are a few railings around some of the rocks. I feel we are very casual about leaving all this beautiful ancient art lying around……but then of course to see it in place, in context adds so much. With stones which have been taken into museums for safe keeping there is an energy and sense of awe which is lost somehow.
      On top of Dunadd…see previous post…..the carved boar, the footprint and ogam script have all been covered with a protective layer and with reproductions recreated on the surface….its great its protected, but something is lost. To place your feet or hands where the ancestors stood is quite special ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Just lovely ๐Ÿ™‚ Goes to show that humans have been communicating with art since our very beginnings! The symbols are very reminiscent of early aboriginal art from Australia ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You know Sarah I often get a sense of the connections between these old artworks and the creations of aboriginal people in Australia and USA ……expressing something deeply and unerringly human I suspect, and something deeply entwined with the natural world.

      • Many early aboriginal artworks are actually maps! People do have a very strong connection to nature and wildlife. Just about every early belief system across the world was linked to aspects of the natural world. If only they still were!! Our ancestors were wise in their naivety.

  4. gwynnrogers says:

    It truly would be wonderful to learn what the symbols mean and to be whisked back in time. At the same time, the imp in me says they look like an owl sitting in a tree or a butterfly stuck in a spider-web. Or maybe the kids simply were playing a game and drawing. Would our forefathers be laughing at us for the meaning we attach to the art? However, it is so mystical and special. Thank you for sharing your world with us.

  5. ladyfi says:

    History etched in stone – how wonderful!

  6. So, so, so very cool. Yes, if they could only speak. I WANT MY TIME MACHINE! D

  7. icelandpenny says:

    Woven into the space-time continuum, swirling through us as they go…

  8. Absolutely amazing and I’m trying to picture a person or persons creating those designs. Wow. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Rachael Charmley says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Seonaid. For me, part of the excitement about visiting these ancient places is about trying to work out how their minds worked – what they thought ‘with’. Could they indeed be ‘maps’ of some kind…

  10. suej says:

    Fascinating and mysterious …

  11. Lucid Gypsy says:

    They are spectacular and fascinating. The link is interesting Seonaid thanks, it looks like maps to me. Its fun to speculate on the possible symbolism but maybe it was just about art for the sake of art.

    • That’s very true Gilly, this outcrop has wonderful views all the way down to the mouth of the River Add and on out into the sea. It would have been a great look out spot for watching for boats coming home! Perhaps the lookouts got bored……

  12. So many mysteries and some beautiful art. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder what details have been lost during their 5,000 years in the weather.

    • That’s what crosses my mind whenever I visit a site like this. There could be lots of fine detail which has been weathered away, and there are thoughts that the stone might have been painted….

  13. This rock art is really fascinating to see, even though we don’t know what the symbols mean. Thanks for the link, Seonaid. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. jenny says:

    Fascinating – thank you for sharing. I wonder what they say?!

  15. Colline says:

    So interesting to see. And yet the marks raise so many questions.

  16. What an enchanting place! It is filled with mystery of ancestors.

  17. Mike says:

    They look interstellar to me. Good picture and conversation.

  18. restlessjo says:

    How very strange Seonaid. Perhaps they’re recording impressions of their surroundings or some kind of map.

    • A map showing neighbouring forts and roads or paths is another common hypothesis Jo….but why all those rings around the cups?
      It’s such a rich and glorious mystery…..probably best left unsolved…..

  19. dairiel says:

    Thank you Seonaid. Such a special place, and that’s an invitation to go walking on the hills there.

  20. Sue Vincent says:

    … and still so clear in spite of their mystery…

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