Rock art is very visual. We need to see it clearly in order to appreciate it, study it, and understand it better. Most carvings are on rocks in the open landscape, and have been eroded by thousands of years of weathering, or covered in vegetation. As a result, they can be very difficult to see. They become far more visible under certain lighting conditions, particularly when the sun is low and makes deep shadows in the carvings. Taking photographs under specific light conditions is a good way to view and identify the engraved symbols.
Have a look at our Gallery to see a small selection of rock art images from different regions of Scotland, co-created by our Community Teams.
The carved rock surfaces are rarely totally flat and smooth. Traditional methods of recording rock art through drawings, rubbings, tracings, and photographs do not capture the true shape or three-dimensional nature of the rock. This makes it difficult to study the relationship between the motifs and the rock surface, and to analyses why particular rocks may have been selected for carving.
We worked with our Community Teams to create 3D models of around 1000 rock art panels across Scotland. The models contributed to our research, and to wider appreciation, understanding, and enjoyment of Scotland's rock art.
You can find images and 3D models of all the rock art panels we recorded by using our website search tools.