Earliest Animal Carvings in Scotland

Scotland's earliest animal carvings

Find out more about Scotland's earliest animal carvings in our Information Sheet

The discovery by Hamish Fenton of animal carvings in an Early Bronze Age burial monument has revolutionised our understanding of prehistoric rock art in Scotland.

The carvings have been 3D modelled by the Digital Documentation and Innovation Team at Historic Environment Scotland, and investigated in great detail by the Scotland's Rock Art Project Team and Curatorial Research Services in order to verify their authenticity. In our Information Sheet you can find out all about the carvings, their context, the discovery and our investigations.

You can watch the short video about the discovery here.

You can read out more about our experience of investigating the carvings in our Blog on the Historic Environment Scotland website.

You can listen to the The Ancients Podcast about the carvings here

If you are looking for rock art, please remember that the carvings are fragile and easily damaged. Never remove turf or vegetation, and always follow the Rock Art Code.

LARGE STAG ENGRAVING IN DUNCHRAIGAIG CAIRN

About Rock Art

Rock art is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic traces left by our ancestors. It has been created for thousands of years, and is still produced today in certain parts of the world. 

What is Rock Art?

The term rock art refers to human-made marks or images that are deliberately carved, painted, or sculpted on natural rock surfaces. 

 

Rock Art of Scotland

About a third of all prehistoric rock art known in Britain is found in Scotland. Most of the carvings are on rocks in the open landscape, but some were also used in monuments or re-used in later structures. 

Rock Art of Britain and Ireland

Britain and Ireland share a similar tradition of prehistoric carving. In the British Isles, carvings of cup-and-rings, cup-marks, and similar images were engraved on boulders and outcrops in many parts of the landscape. 

Rock Carvings of Europe

Rock art is widespread in Europe and very varied, ranging from the Paleolithic Caves of Spain and France, to the Italian Alps, Southern Spain, and of course the Atlantic Art common to many countries in western Europe.

 

World Rock Art

Rock art is a global phenomenon. Paintings and carvings have been created for thousands of years on walls, shelters, and rock surfaces in the open air in many parts of the world. Have a glimpse of some wonderful and mysterious rock art in this section. 

 

History of Discovery and Research

The oldest written reference to rock art in the British Isles dates back to the 19th century. Interest in Britain's rock art has grown over the decades and it is now a well-established academic subject. 

 

Dating Rock Art

Dating rock art is very challenging. For a long time, it was thought that Scotland's prehistoric carvings were about 4000 years old, but recent research shows that they were probably made at least 5000 years ago in the Neolithic period.