Edmund’s Grave, Dron, Perthshire

Cairn: OS Grid Reference – NO 14676 14519

Also Known as:

  1. Balmanno Hill
  2. Canmore ID 28087

Getting Here

Take the Glenfarg road out of Bridge of Earn, cross the motorway and park at the layby past the bend. Go through the gate opposite and follow the track up to the telecoms mast, you can’t miss it..

Archaeology & History

Shown on the 1866 OS Map

Visible from the lowlands below, it is described in the official listing as a cairn of prehistoric date, a funerary monument dating to the late neolithic to early Bronze Age. It is a broadly round stony mound, partially overgrown with turf on the north eastern (mid-summer sunrise) slope of Balmanno Hill, where it has extensive views over the surrounding country.  It is 1.8m (6′) high, 17m (56′) across on the N-S axis and 16m (52′ ) on the E-W axis.

The top of the cairn has a depression in it: possibly the result of treasure-seeking long ago, but there is no evidence of any burial cist.

So who was ‘Edmund’?  Was this a place of heathen ritual Christianised with the designation of St Edmund during the Anglo-Saxon incursions of the early middle ages, or the name of a local landowner?  It is lost to history. The name ‘Balmanno’ can be interpreted as ‘Place of the Big Man’ – so have we an echo of a lost giant legend here in an area of Scotland where such legends abound, and long pre-date the construction of the cairn?  Did later people name their local mythic giant ‘Edmund’?

An alternative meaning of ‘Balmanno’ is given by David Dow in the Old Statistical Account – the ‘Town of the Monk’.

Left – View from South, Centre – View from west looking towards Firth of Tay, Right – The disturbed summit.
© Paul T. Hornby, 2020

Folklore

The Ordnance Survey inspectors of the early 1860s were told that the cairn is where one of the Roman Generals of Agricola’s time was buried.

References:

  1. Dow, Rev. David, The Statistical Account of Scotland 1791-99, Vol. XI, EP Publishing, Wakefield, 1976
  2. Jamieson,John, An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, Vols.I & III, Alexander Gardner, Paisley, 1880
  3. Ordnance Survey Name Books Perthshire, Volume 21 OS1/25/21/11, 1859-62
  4. http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/SM9458

© Paul T Hornby 2020 

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