Standing Stone (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NO 4164 5219
Also Known as:
- Canmore ID 33871
- The Stannin Stane of Benshie
Archaeology & History
In a region that is full of prehistoric remains, we find here another example of another megalithic site that was sadly destroyed, not too long ago by the scale of things. Found in association with a large prehistoric urn, we are thankful to have a couple of early local history accounts that describe the place. The stone was obviously of some considerable height and bulk, though I can find no specific references to the dimensions of the monolith. It was described effectively in the middle-half of the 19th century by Andrew Jervise (1853), who told us:
“‘The Stannin Stane of Benshie’, which stood for unknown ages…was demolished by gunpowder about half a century ago, and the spot is now covered by luxuriant crops of corn. This rude monument of antiquity is supposed to have been about twenty tons in weight; and at a considerable depth below it, a large clay urn, measuring about three feet in height and of corresponding circumference, was found containing a quantity of human bones and ashes. Like its rude protector, however, the urn was broken to pieces; and, beyond the mere fact of its discovery, nothing authentic, as to either the style of its manufacture, or the precise nature or state of its contents, is preserved.”
More than 30 years later, A.J. Warden (1884) and then J.G. MacPherson (1885) all but copied Mr Jervise’s words, adding no further information.
From some reason, a small chapel dedicated to St. Ninian (NO 41567 51932) was built about 100 yards or so to the southwest of the old standing stone. Its ruins are still to be seen. Whether this was an attempt to divert local people away from their animistic ecocentricism at the stone, into the more ecocidal egocentricism of the incoming christian cult (as was/is their common practice), we may never know for sure.
The local name of this stone, ‘The Stannin Stane of Benshie’, indicates simply that this was “the standing stone at the hill of the faerie folk” (or variations thereof) and suggest it stood upon or next to a mound. I can find no immediate reference to stories of the little people here, and their whisper may have faded into unconscious memory. Does anyone know more about this place?
- Jervise, Andrew, The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, Sutherland and Knox: Edinburgh 1853.
- MacPherson, J.G., Strathmore: Past and Present, S. Cowan: Perth 1885.
- Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Central Angus, Angus District, Tayside Region, Edinburgh 1983.
- Warden, Alex J., Angus or Forfarshire: The Land and People – Descriptive and Historical – volume 4, Charles Alexander: Dundee 1884.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian