Prehistoric Rock Art & Landscapes - Kilmartin Glen
In Scotland’s beautiful Kilmartin Glen
The enchanting Kilmartin Glen, on Scotland’s west coast, plays host to one of the richest and best-preserved prehistoric landscapes in Britain. Kilmartin was one of the earliest places in Scotland to be farmed, and it formed a ritual centre that served and connected far-flung prehistoric agricultural communities for thousands of years. The extraordinary concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age burial monuments, standing stones, and rock art in the glen and surrounding hills testifies to the importance of this area 5,500-3,500 years ago. Excavations have also recovered a wealth of material from below the ground, including a rich array of weapons, pottery and jewellery from the monumental Early Bronze Age cairns aligned along the valley floor. The Kilmartin landscape has been shaped continually since the Bronze Age by the shifting forces of economics, political power, and social development. Traces of Iron Age forts (duns), medieval castles, and historic rural settlements are scattered throughout the area. In the 6th century AD, the first Kings of Scotland (Dál Riata) established their citadel on the rocky hill of Dunadd and Kilmartin became a major political and economic centre with trade connections reaching across Europe. The spot where, according to legend, the Kings of Scotland were inaugurated is still marked by a stone footprint. Kilmartin is particularly renowned for its remarkable density of prehistoric rock art, with almost 300 carved rocks in the Glen and its immediate surroundings, including some of the most elaborate and varied rock art in Britain. The carvings, often known as cup and ring marks, were created around 5,000 years ago, and, although there are many theories about why they were made, their meaning remains a mystery.
Your Departure date
Deposit: £500 Single supplement: £295
Meet your Experts
Dr Tertia Barnett
Andante Guide Lecturer
Dr Tertia Barnett is an archaeologist specialising in the rock art of Britain, Europe and North Africa. She currently runs a research project exploring Neolithic rock carvings in Scotland, based at Historic Environment Scotland, and is also an Honorary Fellow at Edinburgh University.
Day 1 - Kilmartin Glen
Today we meet in our hotel on the beautiful Argyll coast in Western Scotland. Before dinner we will have an evening lecture on the landscape and archaeology of this picturesque part of the world.
We pickup from Glasgow airport and train station by coach and drive to our hotel or you can make your way to the hotel.
Day 2 - Kilmartin Glen
The morning starts with a short drive to Baluachraig where we explore the rock art created 5,000 years ago using only stone tools. Close by, we view the Ballmeanoch Stone Alignments, standing stones with a clear NW-SE orientation. After lunch, we walk from the museum along Kilmartin Glen to view the Nether Largie Cairns prehistoric burial monuments dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. We continue to the Temple Wood Stone Circles, dating from 3,000 BC, and the Nether Largie Standing Stones, where we see four menhirs arranged in pairs. We end the day at the Ri Cruin Cairns, a set of cairns arranged over 2km dating to between 5,000 and 3,500 years ago.
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 3 - Kilmartin Glen
This morning we drive to Kilmichael Glassary where we visit Neolithic carvings on the rocky outcrop which include keyhole motifs not seen in other Kilmartin rock art. We continue to Torbhlaren, which contains two decorated standing stones as well as three carved outcrops. After lunch in Ardfern, we drive to Carnasserier Castle, a ruined 16th century tower house which preserves its renaissance character. Here above the entrance the arms of the 5th Earl of Argyll are inscribed, along with a Gaelic inscription. Not far away, we find more Neolithic and Bronze age rock art. We proceed to spectacular Dunadd to visit the hillfort which dominates the landscape. In use for more than 2,000 years, it was a strong hold of the Gaelic kings of Dál Riata from AD 500-800 and may have been visited by St Columba. For our last visit of the day we drive to Cairnbaan to view its iron age rock art which has the cup and ring marks characteristic of Kilmartin Glen rock art.
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 4 - Kilmartin Glen - Glasgow
On our last day, we drive to Achnabreck, where we see the cup and ring symbols familiar to other sites in the Kilmartin Glen. Some of the finest rock art in the area, the marks, spread over several outcrops, appear to be 5,000 years old. We continue a short distance to Cairnbaan, where we explore another of Cairnbaan rock art dating from 3,500 to 2,500 years ago. Afterwards, we have lunch nearby and make our way back to Glasgow.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Lunch|
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- Field notes
- All taxes & gratuities
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|5 September 2023||ASKI230905||5 September 2023 (Tuesday)||8 September 2023 (Friday)||Dr Tertia Barnett||£1,695
|£500||£295||Call for availability|
|25 July 2024||ASKI240725||25 July 2024 (Thursday)||28 July 2024 (Sunday)||Dr Tertia Barnett||£1,695
|Book your trip|