Stone Circle: OS Grid Reference – NN 8026 4847
Also Known as:
- Carse Farm II
Pretty easy to find – assuming it aint at the height of summer and the crops are approaching maturity, otherwise you’re only gonna see its head! But, this aside: from Aberfeldy, take the B846 road over the river bridge that bends you along the valley of the River Tay towards Appin of Dull. After some 2 miles you’ll pass the right-turn up to Dull. Go past this for another coupla hundred yards or so, watching out for the left-turn down towards the farmhouse of Carse and park up where you can (if you go past it, there’s the second turn up to Dull, again on your right, where you can turn round). As you walk down the track towards Carse Farm, watch out on your right in the field below Carse I, in the second field down. You can’t really miss it. (and the farmer here is spot on if you ask to check the stone – as long as the crops aint growing)
Archaeology & History
Although all that’s left of what is thought to have been a once proud stone circle is the singular upright standing stone in the middle of the field. Aubrey Burl (1988) thought that this was one of the typical “four poster”rings that scatter our isles, but I’m not so sure misself. There were other stones associated with the site when Burl described it, but these were covered over in our visit here a few months back — which is a pity, as two of the stones are reported as possessing cup-markings (if/when we revisit the site, I’ll try get some images of the respective stones and add them on TNA as individual carved stones). The site gives the distinct impression of it having a funerary character of some sort and not a true stone circle — and this was strongly suggested by some of the finds inside the “ring”, described below.
Both this and its associated “circle” a few hundred yards away — known as Carse Farm north — sit on a flat level of ground in the Tay valley, with rounded hills all most sides. This landscape setting was obviously of some importance to the people who put the circle here in the first place but, not living in the region, it’s difficult to assess the mythic relevance some of the hills will have obviously played in the siting of these stones.
In bygone days, it was reported that the much of the site was ploughed away due to agricultural excesses, so there was obviously much more to it in earlier centuries. Describing the solitary stone that’s left today, along with the earlier excavation results, Mr Burl (1988) wrote:
“The stone still standing, of quartziferous schist, is 6ft 3in (1.9m) high. Its longer faces are aligned NW-SE. 32ft 6in (9.9m) to its SW is a large prostate block, sub-elliptical and about 8ft long and 4ft 3in wide (2.4 x 1.3m). It has probably fallen outwards. (my italics, PB) If so, when standing near the top of its inner face were four cupmarks in a cross pattern.
“About 32ft ((9.8m) to its NW is a fallen and enormous schist slab, 11ft long and 5ft wide (3.4 x 1.5m). It also appears to have toppled outwards. Near the bottom of its inner face are two cupmarks. The situation of these three stones suggests that they once stood at the corners of a rectangle some 32ft (9.8m) square, the pillars of a huge four-poster nearly six-times the national average and with an internal area ten times bigger than the small 4-poster (Carse Farm north, PB) just to its north.
“Excavation in 1964 found the socket from which the great prostrate slab had been dragged… Cash (1911) had noted the presence of a small stone inside the ring about 20ft (6.1m) west of the standing stone. It proved to be 4ft (1.2m) square with a carefull-dressed face. It had been set upright, standing about 1ft 4in (41cm) above the ground. Three sides of the worked face ‘had been carefully chiselled away to a straight edge.’ It may have been a slab lining the inner central space of a destroyed ring-cairn. Burnt bone was found near it. There was also a rounded river pebble with a worked hollow on one side…”
Stewart (1964) described the site as having been “christianized” not long ago, by having the northernmost standing stone in the ring removed. This is intriguing inasmuch as “north” is the place of greatest symbolic darkness in the pre-christian mythos, and represented death and illumination in magickal terms. North was also the point taken by witches and shamans in their excursions into Underworlds, usually via the North Star, which tethered the Earth to the heavens (see Godwin’s Arktos , and Grant, The Magical Revival ) In the removal of this northern stone for the reasons given, that implies some magickal events or folklore were in evidence here when this took place. Anyone got any further information along these lines, or has it long since been subsumed?
- Burl, Aubrey, Four Posters: Bronze Age Stone Circles of Western Europe, BAR 195: Oxford 1988.
- Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire (Aberfeldy District),” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, volume 44, 1910.
- Stewart, M.E.C., “Carse Farm 1 and 2,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1964.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian