Basan an Sagairt, Balquhidder, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5419 2089

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24140
  2. Priest’s Basin

Getting Here

The carved bowl of Basan an Sagairt
The carved bowl of Basan an Sagairt

From Balquhidder village, take the road east towards Auchtubh as if you’re heading to the Clach nan Sul or Wester Auchleskine cup-marked stones. Before reaching either of these sites, a few hundred yards on the road as you pass Tom na Cruich on the right-side of the road, you need to look in the next field past this house.  About 40 yards past here in the field, and less than 10 yards from the wall, you can see the large rock from the roadside.  If not, you’re damn close! Ask the owners of the adjacent house, who are very friendly and helpful.

Archaeology & History

This curious, large, man-made cup-marking or bowl was first described in J.M. Gow’s (1887) essay on Balquhidder antiquities. He wrote:

“Regaining the high road, and still going east, about 40 yards from the cottage of Mr Macdiarmid, there lies just inside the road dyke a large five-sided stone, about 8 feet long by 5 feet broad at the broadest part, and about 2 feet above ground.  It is called “Basan an Sagairt” (the Priest’s Basin).  When the present road and dyke were made, its name must have saved it.  The hollow or basin is 18 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep, and is unmistakably artificial. The stone is the mica slate of the district, hard and granitic.”

Looking down on the basin
Looking down on the basin

The large bowl here was also deemed to be artificial by members of Ordnance Survey and Royal Commission archaeologists who have inspected the site.  It is thought to have been a healing stone of some sort, or at least possessed some religious function, but we have no records stating this with any certainty.  In examples similar to this, the water which collects in the carved bowl is deemed to have curative properties.  It may have been a christian attempt to take locals away from magickal healing stone practices enacted at the Clach nan Sul, or Stone of the Eyes, just a couple of hundred yards along the road east of here.  Or it may have being a stone used by indigenous medicine men for other medicinal purposes.

Carved stone in one of the fields across the road
Carved stone in one of the fields across the road

On the other side of the road from here, in the field immediately past Wester Auchleskine farm, as you go through the gate just ahead of you is a rounded earthfast stone with a similar man-made circular impression like the Priest’s Basin carved upon it. (NN 5451 2089) However, this carving doesn’t appear to have been finished.  Whether it has any mythic relationship to the Priest’s stone or the cupmarked rocks at Wester Auchleskine in the same field, is not known.


  1. Gow, James M., “Notes in Balquhidder: Saint Angus, Curing Wells, Cup-Marked Stones, etc”, in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, volume 21, 1887.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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