In this project, we are using the term panel to refer to a rock with prehistoric carvings on any part of it. The terms panel and carved rock can be used interchangeably. A panel can be any size, shape or form. Panels can be free-standing boulders, outcropping rock, or stones built into a monument. ‘Panel’ avoids ambiguities associated with the term ‘site’, which could mean either a single carved rock or a cluster of carved rocks.

In cases where there are several carved surfaces close to one another, but clearly separated by at least 1m of turf or other vegetation, or by an obvious break in the rock (such as a wide fissure), each separate carved surface should be recorded as a different panel.

If a free-standing boulder or slab is carved on more than one surface, it should be recorded as a single panel. Similarly, if a rock has obviously been split by later quarrying, all the fragments should be recorded as one panel.

There is no formal consensus on the definition of a panel, and you may come across other variations in rock art publications.


Carved rock surface

A rock surface with carvings on it. This term refers to the whole of that rock surface, even if only a small portion of it is covered by the carvings. A panel can have multiple carved surfaces.


Rock surface

A panel may have several surfaces set at different angles to one another (e.g. horizontal, vertical etc.). Each of these is defined as a separate rock surface, where the angle between them is at least 45o.



An individual carved symbol, such as a cupmark, groove, or a cup and ring. Motifs are sometimes interlinked by grooves, making it more difficult to distinguish individual symbols.



For definitions of other Terms that you may want to use during recording, please see our Glossary of Terms





What is a panel?

What is a panel?


Easter Denoon (Canmore)

Easter Denoon: a carved panel (Source: Canmore)



Knock 3: In this panel there are multiple carved surfaces.

Knock 3: in this panel there are multiple carved surfaces. 


A motif is an individual symbol that has been carved on a rock surface.

A motif is an individual symbol that has been carved on a rock surface. 





The Scotland's Rock Art Project trained and worked with Community Teams to build a consistent, publicly accessible database of prehistoric carvings using specific recording methods.


Recording Rock Art

Creating detailed, digital records of Scotland's rock art is essential for better understanding, sustainability, and public awareness. You can find out about our recording methods in this section!

Finding Rock Art

Finding rock art is very rewarding, but often quite difficult! In this section we offer a few tips that may help you find those 'hidden' panels. 


Getting Started

Before going out and looking for rock art, there are some important things that you should be aware of. You will also need to know what equipment to use. You can find out all about it here! 

Fieldwork Preparation

Follow these simple steps to prepare for a fantastic day out doing fieldwork and recording rock art. Don't forget your wellingtons and waterproofs! 


Doing Fieldwork

Like any other type of archaeological fieldwork, rock art recording uses specific methods and techniques. Learn how to record rock art, and find out what types of information you should be documenting. 

After Fieldwork

Fieldwork is only one part of the method for recording rock art. In this section you can read about how to process information captured in the field, and how to build 3D models of the carved rocks. 

Data Entry

Once you have processed all the information collected in the field, your photographs, and your 3D models, you can upload it to Canmore. Find out how in this section.