Giant’s Leap & Rock, Black Hill, Abernyte, Perthshire.

Legendary Rock: OS Reference – NO 21559 31659

Getting Here

Giant’s Rock in ravine overlooked by the Leap

The Rock and Leap may be seen from the B953 Bandirran to Abernyte road.  Approach across the fields.

Archaeology & History

A large boulder perhaps 40 tons in weight lies in a ravine between Dunsinane and Black Hill. The ‘Leap’ is a flat topped ledge jutting out from the west side of Black Hill facing Dunsinane.

Folklore

Melville (1939) in his The Fair Land of Gowrie writes of the simple pleasures of the giant:

“From the farther side of the ravine [between Dunsinane and Black Hill], a precipitous rock juts out, which is called the “Giant’s Leap”. According to the lore of the Sidlaws, a giant, who once lived in these parts, leaped from this rock right on to the top of Dunsinane Hill.  The giant also amused himself by tossing about a huge boulder which can be seen lying at the bottom of the ravine.”

And adds:

The Big Fellow’s toy
Giant’s Leap from the north

“Fairies haunted the hills here and on summer nights they descended to the meadows, where they danced at a spot called “Fairygreen”. The Black Hill gets its name from the dark heath which covers it. Weird and bleak looking for most of the year, the lower slopes are brightened by glowing patches of purple flowers in late summer.”

Fairygreen Farm lies a mile almost due north of Dunsinane.

Reference:

  1. Melville, Lawrence, The Fair Land of Gowrie, William Culross & Son, Coupar Angus, 1939.

© Paul T Hornby 2020, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.470503, -3.274832 Giant\'s Leap & Rock

Long Man’s Grave, Abernyte, Perthshire

Tomb:  OS Grid Reference – NO 2218 3153

1867 OS-map of the site

1867 OS-map of the site

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 30663
  2. Hoolmyre
  3. The Lang Man’s Grave
  4. MacBeth’s Grave

Archaeology & History

A little-known, but once important site in the mythic history of Scotland, this Long Man’s Grave was said to be the spot where MacBeth—described by Aitchison (1999) as “Scotland’s foremost King”—died.  It would seem that any remains of the stone which once stood here has gone.  When Robert Chambers (1827) told of the site, he said that

“At the bottom of Dunsinnan Hill, on the east side, and near the west end of a drystone wall which runs along the side of the road from Baledgarno, is a large stone about eight feet in length, beneath which MacBeth is said to have been interred.  It is usually called the Lang Man’s Graff, probably from a supposition that the stone was made to suit the length of the deceased.”

More than fifty years later when the Scottish historian Thomas Hunter (1883) wrote about the site, he thought that it had probably been a prehistoric one, telling that

“The tumulus, on being examined, proved to be a druidical stone that had toppled over, and no relic was discovered that could throw light on the tradition.”

Long Man's Grave on 1867 6-inch map

Long Man’s Grave on 1867 6-inch map

Site of the Long Mans Grave

Site of the Long Mans Grave

The site was shown on the earliest OS-maps of the region (as highlighted here), but we don’t know for certain about the exact nature of the site.  Although a bunch of lads from the Royal Commission popped along to see the place in 1969 and proclaimed (without excavation) that the stone was “probably a ‘grave slab’ and not a “standing stone” which has toppled over”, we have to treat their words with caution.  Close by are the remains of Bronze Age stone circles; above us we have the prehistoric hillfort of Dunsinane, with even older neolithic remains being found within it; and we also have neolithic rock art remains nearby; other prehistoric tombs, and plenty more besides…

Folklore

Echoing the early folklore of the site as narrated by local people, Hunter (1883) told that,

“the tradition of the district is that MacBeth, finding it impossible to escape from MacDuff, threw himself from the top of the (Dunsinane) Hill, was killed upon the rocks, and buried at the ‘Lang Man’s Grave’.”

References:

  1. Aitchison, Nick, MacBeth – Man and Myth, Sutton: Stroud 1999.
  2. Chambers, Robert, The Picture of Scotland – volume 2, William Tait: Edinburgh 1827.
  3. Hunter, Thomas, Woods, Forests and Estates of Perthshire, Henderson, Robertson & Hunter: Perth 1883.
  4. Melville, Lawrence, The Fair Land of Gowrie, W.Culross 1939.
  5. Pennant, Thomas, A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides – volume 2, London 1776.
  6. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, South-East Perth: An Archaeological Landscape, HMSO: Edinburgh 1994.
  7. Sinclair, John, The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1797 – volume 11: South and East Perthshire, Kinross-shire, EP: Wakefield 1976.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Long Mans Grave

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Long Mans Grave 56.469580, -3.264819 Long Mans Grave