Detail of Cairnbaan 

Our Research


During this project, we will use the information gathered by our Community Teams to carry out detailed research into Scotland’s rock art. This is the first nationwide project to investigate prehistoric carvings and their contexts across the whole country. Studying the carvings at national, regional, and local scales offers exciting opportunities to explore relationships between the rock art and the contexts in which it was created.


Our research revolves around three key themes. Our main aim is analyse the significance of the rock art to the people that made and used it. Our second aim is to examine how the importance of carvings has changed through time. We will do this by looking at the ways in which the rock at has been re-used in different periods. Our final research theme will focus on how and why people value the carvings today.


As the project develops, we will be able to tell you more about what our research reveals, so keep visiting this page!  
















Distribution of prehistoric rock art in Scotland according to Canmore Data in 2017

Distribution of prehistoric rock art in Scotland according to Canmore data in 2017. 


Rock art and landscape. Ben Lawers (Tayside) (Photograph by Aaron Watson).

Rock art and Landscape. Ben Lawers (Tayside) (Photograph by Aaron Watson). 


Re-use of carved rocks (Old Dowie, source: Canmore)

Re-use of carved rocks (Old Dowie, Source: Canmore)



Scotland's Rock Art Project is working with communities to co-produce rock art data for research. Follow this link for an overview of our work, and rock art research in Scotland. 


Research Framework

Carved stones of all periods are a priceless and vulnerable part of Scotland's heritage. How should we best research, conserve, protect, and engage them? The Carved Stones Research Framework provides informed answers! 


Valuing Rock Art

Scotland's rock art is a unique part of our historic environment. During this project we shall be exploring what it means to people, and how we value it today.


Research Workshops

In November 2019 we ran two research workshops focusing on specific themes relevant to the project’s objectives, methods and outcomes. In this section you can download summaries of the discussions. 

Other Research

Survey and excavation around rock art panels in Britain and Ireland have made some exciting discoveries in recent years. Visit this page to find out how these projects contribute to our knowledge of rock art.