Standing Stones: OS Grid Reference – NN 5308 3670
Also Known as:
From Killin, travel down Glen Lochay, past Stag Cottage or Duncroisk and over the shallow river of Allt Dhun Croisg. If you’re in a car you can park up a 100 yards past the river bridge and walk up the track from here. After a 10 minute walk, above the trees you come to the derelict village of Tirai* where, until recently, you were greeted by a tall totem-pole of a gnarled tree (it was superb!) which is now Earth-lain, and a fine view of the evolving hills. Here amidst the ruins we also find a standing stone or two.
Archaeology & History
The village of Tirai was deserted sometime in the 19th century (due to the disgusting clearances of the English), but at least two standing stones still live amidst its ruins. The tallest is nearly four-feet tall in the middle of the grassy patch and is much used by grateful cattle to rub themselves against when midges and horseflies drive them mad! The Scottish Royal Commission lads reckon the megaliths here are,
“possibly a survivor of a stone circle as a similar stone is used nearby as a gate-post to an enclosure and several other large stones have been incorporated in the walls of the surrounding buildings.”
This may well be so – but it is equally possible that these are merely the remains of standing stones which once stood along this ridge and which were taken for use in the village.
Of the remaining standing stones in this idyllic setting – the Royal Commission fellas counted possibly four of ’em – all are roughly the same size, between 3 and 4 feet high. Johnstone & Wood (1996) also think the stones here may once have related to a prehistoric cairn in the village.
This is an utterly beautiful arena, even in the heights of winter. The village sits on the rear slopes behind the old cailleach, and there are plenty of cup-and-ring carvings, both known and unknown scattering the rocks and nearby hills. The curious Duncroisk Crosses carving is just visible from here, on the other side of the rocky gorge. Lost tales and lost sites abound here also. I did sit and wonder though… Considering that the villagers here left the old standing stones in place until very recent centuries at the heart of their hamlet, what uses did they make of it, or what tales did it speak? Or had the purge of the Church already taken its toll…?
- Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.
- Johnstone, A.S.K. & Wood, J.S., ‘An Archaeological Field Survey of Deserted Townships at Tirai, Glen Lochay, Killin,’ Association of Certificated Field Archaeologists (Glasgow University) Occasional Paper no 9 (1996).
* The place-name Tirai means ‘land of good luck or joy,’ which truly speaks well of its spirit and setting to me.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian