Achnabreck Prehistoric Site, Kilmartin Glen

 This evening, I am focusing on the intriguing prehistoric rock carvings at Achnabreck, a site located at the southern tip of Kilmartin Glen, not far from Lochgilphead. This concentration of motifs were picked out of exposed sheets of metamorphic rock (tremolite-chlorite-schist) which had been rendered smooth by the movements of ice sheets.   It is not possible to date the carvings with certainty but I work on the assumption they are more or less contemporary with the stone circle building, somewhere around the period 3000 BC to 1000 BC. ( Late Neolithic to Middle Bronze Ages.) The underlying theme of the carvings is one of concentric rings at the centre of which sits a ‘cup’. There are variations on this theme with motifs featuring spirals, cups with ducts and ringed enclosures. All these were laboriously pecked out of the hard rock with stone tools. There is no consensus as to the interpretation of the carvings but, clearly, one of more skilled people had the luxury of sufficient time to spend many hours formulating the designs at a time when most of the population would be engaged in a daily survival exercise. Maybe they represent an early form of specialisation in a primitive economy? A feature of the carvings-whether by happenstance or design-is that visibility of the carvings diminishes at midday but radically improves in low sunlight and wet conditions. This video clip demonstrates the latter. Overall, Achnabreck is accessible ( along a dirt track) and is worthy of a visit for those interested in (and wish to ponder further) our prehistoric past. I usually include a visit during my tours of Kilmartin Glen.

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