Achnancarranan, Islay, Argyll

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NR 3895 4606

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 37581

Getting Here

From Port Ellen take the A846 road east to Laphroaig, and on the far side of the village, past the small forested part on your left, walk up the slightly sloping hill alongside the small River Kilbride.  Over a couple of walls on your way up, look up the small hill to your right (north) and you’ll see these large standing stones.

Archaeology & History

A triple-stone row no less!  Although only two of these stones are upright, a third central prostrate stone is included in archaeological surveys as an original upright.  And it seems likely. Although passed over in Alexander Thom’s astroarchaeological analyses, Clive Ruggles (1984) looked at this stone row and found the alignment here to possess no solar or lunar function.  But if it aligns north the mythic relationship obviously relates to death, as North “is the place of greatest symbolic darkness” where neither sun nor moon ever rise nor set.   There may have been an early association with Alpha Draconis, or Thuban in the constellation of the Dragon: the Pole Star in early neolithic times around which the heavens were seen to revolve by our ancestors and hold the pillar of the sky in place.  But we may never know.  Perhaps by the time these monoliths were erected, the mythos relating to A.Draconis may have faded…

The stones are found amidst a scatter of other neolithic and Bronze Age remains.  In the Royal Commission (1984) report on the stones they described the respective monoliths as follows:

“The north stone, measuring 1.28m by 0.35m at the base and 2.70m in height, rises with a gradual taper, the top curving gently to its highest point at the top of the south side.  The centre stone, now prone, has fallen onto its E face and lies embedded in the ground with its upper surface (originally the west face) flush with turf; it is 3m long and up to 0.9m broad.  The south stone measures 0.80m by 0.40m at the foot and 2.85m in height.  It leans towards the west and the top slopes down sharply from the south to a shoulder 2.1m above ground level on the north side.”

…to be continued…


  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay, HMSO: Edinburgh 1984.
  3. Ruggles, C.L.N., Megalithic Astronomy: A New Archaeological and Statistical Study of 300 Western Scottish Sites, BAR: Oxford 1984.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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