Easter Coillechat, Kilmadock, Stirlingshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NN 68830 04347

Getting Here

The cairn, looking NW

From Doune, take the A84 road to Callander.  As you pass through the hamlet of Buchany, keep your eyes peeled a few hundred yards on as the road dips down and swerves gently right, for the road sign of Drumloist (or Moist as some locals keep amending!) which goes up to the right.  It’s a small single track road that zigs and zags slowly uphill.  After exact one mile you reach a small track on your right (there one left too).  Carefully park hereby (don’t block the gate!).  Across the road, go through the gate on your right and walk along the edge of the field until you reach the burn.  Go across it, and then across the field, through the gate and you’ll see it ahead of you.  In the tick season (summer) treat the brackens as possessed by a plague and avoid it!

Archaeology & History

Looking at its stony face

A curiously forgotten place, hidden from sight, this large rounded grass-covered mound with small upright stones around one side, seems timeless amidst the open fields.  It seems alone, but the denuded chambered tomb of Ballachraggan is just visible 1.4 miles to the northwest on the near-horizon; and there’s a hidden cairnfield just a half-mile away.  This cairn measures 18 yards (N-S) by 16 yards (E-W) and stands 7-8 feet high when you look at it from its southern side.  The top of the mound is a mix of stone and grass with a slight dip in the middle, perhaps by someone in ages past digging, albeit only slightly—perhaps scared away by the old folk buried herein.

One of the most notable aspects of this site is the complete silence.  On my last two visits hereby, a fusion of mists from the low cloud above and the breathing Earth below gave an atmosphere the likes of which lived when this tomb was first built.  On one occasion hereby, no vehicles for several hours gave the silence a curious atmosphere (those of you who like sitting in the rain with the wilderness will know what I mean).  To me this is a gorgeous site…

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Chesters House, Humshaugh, Northumberland

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NY 909 702

Archaeology & History

Chesters carving 1887

The whereabouts of this carving is somewhat of a mystery.  Originally found three or four hundred yards away to the northeast of Chesters mansion, it was moved from there into the porch entranceway of the place—and here it lived for, hmmmm….well, we’re not quite sure how long it was here.  The only description of the carving seems to have been made by the Rev. G.R. Hall in 1887, and between then and sometime in the 20th century, it’s disappeared to who-knows-where.  The only known photo of the carving (right) suggests that the original design was somewhat bigger as the stone looks to have been broken off from a larger piece.  Mr Hall told us:

“this stone is 3 feet in length by 2 feet 6 inches in breadth, of irregular form.  It has five incised cups on each side of a wide, slightly curved channel, which crosses the stone at nearly its widest part.  Two other grooves intersect this longest channel, one forming a segment of a circle.  At the opposite end of the slab are two nearly parallel grooves passing towards the largest hollow. The ten cups vary from 1½ inches to 3 inches in diameter, and are from half an inch to an inch in depth.”

All being well, the carving is hiding in a wall somewhere, or maybe beneath His Lordship’s bed.  Hopefully it’ll re-appear sometime soon…


  1. Beckensall, Stan, Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings – A Mystery Explained, Pendulum: Rothbury 1983.
  2. Hall, G.R., “On Some Cup-incised Stones, found in an Ancient British Burial-mound at Pitlands Hills, near Birtley, North Tynedale,” in Archaeologia Aeliana (2nd Series) volume 12, 1887.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Mountain Farm, Whittingham, Northumberland

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NU 053 128

Archaeology & History

This lost carving may have been brought to light as a result of field ploughing which, quite fortunately, uncovered a Bronze Age burial site with a cup-and-ring stone therein.  It was reported by the regional historian David Dixon (1895) in his classic work on this area, although his description was brief and he made no sketch of the design.  He told us:

“A stone-lined grave or cist, similar to that discovered at Mile, was found several years ago on Mountain Farm, in or near to which was a sandstone slab, covered with a fine example of the incised circles, such as are found in the rocks at Routin Lynn, Bewick Hill, Chatton Law and Lordenshaws Camp.”

These other petroglyphs he mentions are bloody impressive!  Sadly they’re not yet on TNA. (site profiles required of them are considerable in size – if anyone would like to write them 😉 )


  1. Beckensall, Stan, Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings – A Mystery Explained, Pendulum: Rothbury 1983.
  2. Dixon, David D., Whittingham Vale, Northumberland, Robert Redpath: Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1895.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Lour Fort, Drumelzier, Peeblesshire

Cup-Marked Stone (lost): OS Grid Reference – NT 179 356

Archaeology & History

In Sir George Douglas’ (1899) brief sketch of prehistoric remains in Peeeblesshire, he described coming across a petroglyph somewhere near the top of the Iron Age hillfort east of Stobo Castle, near Drumelzier (King Arthur country).  He told that,

“on a flat stone lying on the slope of the fort at Lour, are two “cups,” measuring 2¾ inches in diameter and an inch in depth, and exhibiting perfect symmetry in their form and position on the stone: they have been thought to be genuine examples of “rock-markings”.”

The carving hasn’t been seen since and it’s presumed that vegetation has covered the stone. (the grid-reference for this site is an approximation)


  1. Douglas, Sir George, A History of the Border Counties: Roxburgh, Selkirk, Peebles, W. Blackwood: Edinburgh 1899.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Whitelaw, Kirknewton, Northumberland

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NT 942 295

Also Known as:

  1. Whitelaw Stone

Archaeology & History

Sometime at the end of the 1860s, a local man—Mr William Wightman of Wooler—was in possession of this impressive-looking petroglyph which, we presume, he uncovered.  The carved stone was, as we can see, broken off from a larger piece and so it’s very evident that this was originally a larger design than the one illustrated here in Mr Middlemass’ (1872) drawing.  The only information we have about it are from his short notes,

The Whitelaw Stone

“was found on the north side of a hill called Whitelaw, the next eminence south-east from Yeavering Bell.  The stone is a very hard gritty sandstone, and bears distinctly the tool marks by which the circles have been cut. The tool must have been of iron or bronze, as the material is too hard to be operated upon by stone implements; moreover, the tool marks shew that the instrument used had a sharp round point, and must have been held in a similar way to the modern chisel.  The marks shew the size of the point.  The object of the artist evidently has been to fill the stone with ornament as between the two great circles; and at the corners he has placed smaller circles to suit the space. The similar nature of the circles on all the stones hitherto figured would seem to show that such stones, if monumental, were not legendary, but, most probably of a religious character; serving, like the Christian cross, to invite the traveller to pay his devotions on a spot rendered sacred by the emblems of worship.”

Searches for this have been made by Stan Beckensall (1983) and his acolytes, but it remains lost. (the grid-ref is an approximation)


  1. Beckensall, Stan, Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings – A Mystery Explained, Pendulum: Rothbury 1983.
  2. Middlemass. Robert, “On an Inscribed Stone in the Possession of Mr William Wightman, Bank, Wooler,” in History Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 6, 1869-72.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Tom Tallon’s Grave, Kirknewton, Northumberland

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 9323 2800

Also Known as:

  1. Auld Wife’s Apronful o’ Stanes
  2. Tom Tallon’s Tumulus

Archaeology & History

Site on the 1866 OS-map

Highlighted on the earliest OS-maps about half a mile to the south of the great prehistoric camp of Yeavering Bell and 100 yards southwest of Tom Tallon’s Crag, there once stood an apparently “massive” Bronze Age tumulus, or cairn, called Tom Tallon.  I’d hedge a bet that it was much older, from the neolithic period.  It was described by P.A. Graham (1921) as “the largest cairn in the district,” but when it was visited by the antiquarian Henry MacLauchlan in July 1858, he reported that “it was being removed to make a fence”!!!  Unbe-fuckin’-lievable… Who were the dickheads that did that?!


The Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1860 for Tom Tallon’s Crag told that, “There is a vague tradition about Tom Tallon having been a Warrior and Slain here – hence the name, but nothing authentic respecting Tom, can now be ascertained.” The word tom derives from “a rounded hill”, sometimes associated with a tumulus and in Scotland (just over the border) associated “with a dwelling place of the fairies” with tallon suggested by Graham (1921) to derive from “tal, a forehead or promontory, and Llan, an enclosure.”

What is quite obviously an older name, or certainly one that was more recognised by local people, is its title of the Auld Wife’s Apronful of Stones: a title we find associated with a number of the giant cairns in northern England and Scotland.  It relates to the creation myth of the site, whereby the countless stones that made up the cairn were dropped or thrown across the landscape by a giantess who inhabited this landscape.


  1. Hall, James, A Guide to Glendale, M. Brand: Wooler 1887.
  2. Graham, P. Anderson, Highways and Byways in Northumbria, MacMillan: London 1921.
  3. MacLauchlan, Henry, “Notes on Camps in the Parishes of Branxton, Carham, Ford, Kirknewton and Wooller, in Northumberland,” in History Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 24, 1922.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Soonhope, Peebles, Peeblesshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost): OS Grid Reference – NT 269 419

Also Known as:

  1. Kittlegairy Burn

Archaeology & History

Fred Coles’ 1898 sketch

An apparently isolated cup-and-ring stone was found on the hills north of Peebles at the end of the 19th century by the renowned Scottish megalith explorer, Fred Coles. (1899)  He was having a look at some of the hillforts in the area and—as some of us tend to do—he began meandering off-track, down streams, through bogs and as a result came across the carving that’s illustrated here.  It’s subsequently become “lost” in the hills, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to locate, as the description he gave of its whereabouts is a pretty good one.  He told us:

“A very little over one mile and a quarter up the valley, measuring from the road at Kerfield Cottage, a tiny rivulet called Kittlegairy Burn trickles down from the SE into the main stream.  On the hill to its east, and about 450 feet higher, are the remains of a fort, one of a series of three crowning prominent heights along this side of the valley.  Down the main stream from Kittlegairy Burn is a large ruined sheep-shelter called Soonhope.  Nearly midway between these two points a deep curve has been hollowed out of the E. bank; and, at the foot of this rather high gravel bank, half immersed in the stream, lies the block of stone with the cup-and ring-marks.  They were discovered, 14th September 1896, by my daughter, Helen, on crossing the stream; and we at once proceeded to make a measured drawing, a reproduction of which is given here….  The depth of the rings in proportion to their width is the one most noticeable feature; next, the extreme thinness of the intervening ‘neck’; but, on a minute and careful examination of the nature of the stone itself, taking into consideration that its angularity and sharpness of edge and the absence of moss or even of confervoid growths on its surfaces went against the possibility of its being truly waterworn.”

The rock had obviously fallen from its original position above the burn.  Today, the entire area where this stone exists has been covered by a huge forestry plantation, but if any rock art fanatics from the Peebles area get bored one day and have nothing to do…..


  1. Coles, Fred, “Notices of the Discovery of a Cist and Urns at Juniper Green, and of a Cist at the Cunninghar, Tillicoultry, and of some Undescribed Cup-marked Stones’, in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 33, 1899.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring and Similar Early Sculptures of Scotland; Part 2 – The Rest of Scotland except Kintyre,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 16, 1969.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties – part 2,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Harelawside, Grantshouse, Berwickshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (removed): OS Grid Reference – NT 807 659

Archaeology & History

A carving that no longer exists in its place of origin, but can now be seen in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.  It was discovered by a Mr James Craw (1931), who gave us the following account of his find:

“In 1910 my attention was attracted by some markings on a boulder on the top of a field wall, ¼-mile NNW of Grant’s House church and at an elevation of some 550 feet above sea level.  The stone was a rounded and somewhat flattened slab of greenstone, measuring 22 inches by 17 inches by 4 inches… It bore a small cup ½-inch in diameter, surrounded by two rings of shallow incision, the outer being 3 inches in diameter.  From the cup a duct, partly natural, led across the stone, and another cup, without rings, had also a short duct.  Adjacent to these markings was a curious grid design of shallow lines, a series of parallel lines ¼-inch apart, being crossed at right angles by lines 2½ inches apart.”

1930 photo of the carving

Across a section of the stone there may also be a curving pecked line which Craw didn’t appear to notice.  The parallel lines would appear to have quite separate origins, with those running below the cup-and-ring seeming to be ancient, whereas the others have the appearance of being cut with metal tools and seem much more like modern scarring.

Shortly after finding the stone, Mr Craw took the petroglyph to the National Museum in Edinburgh, where he was told that they didn’t think it “as being of early workmanship, the cups and rings being of much smaller proportions than the typical markings of the Bronze Age and the grid design having no known parallel.”  They were wrong on both accounts of course, although I for one still remained unconvinced by one set of parallel lines that run along to the edge of the stone.  That said, there are similar carvings of parallel lines at the impressive Traprain Law 15 miles northwest of here, so I may be wrong.

The wall in which this carving was found was obviously not its place of origin.  It most likely came from one of the cairns that was reported by J. Hardy to have been destroyed in this field in 1882.


  1. Craw, James H., “An Inscribed Boulder from Grants House,” in History of Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 27, 1931.
  2. Edwards, Arthur J.H., “Rock Sculpturings on Traprain Law,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 69, 1935.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring and Similar Early Sculptures of Scotland; Part 2 – The Rest of Scotland except Kintyre,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 16, 1969.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties – part 2,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
  5. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Kirktonhill, Channelkirk, Berwickshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 474 548

Archaeology & History

Included in Aubrey Burl’s (1976) first gazetteer, without comment, the site was subsequently added to John Barnatt’s (1989) magnum opus.  He tells that in the 19th century, “early Ordnance Survey records…note a destroyed stone circle” here, but draws a somewhat sceptical opinion of its very existence as “the Ordnance Survey frequently made mistaken interpretations in the 19th century and hence this should be treated with caution.”

Despite this, early local historians refer to the site, albeit in the past tense.  The first would seem to have been Walter Elliot (1869) in his address to the respected Berwickshire Naturalists Club.  Some members of this group had visited a number of ancient sites the previous year:

“A camp above Channel Kirk was also indicated, near which a stone circle formerly existed, but it has been destroyed and the materials used for building dykes within the last five or six years.”

The “camp” was an old Roman one which has itself been almost completely destroyed, despite it still being shown on modern OS-maps.

The circle was mentioned in passing in Mr Thomson’s (1902) huge work on his descriptions of the many local hillforts.  Close to one at Kirktonhill known as the Roman or Agricola’s Camp, “forty years ago, there was said to have been a stone circle.”  This was reiterated in Craw’s (1920) survey of prehistoric monuments in Berwickshire.

Perhaps the most curious omission is in Mr Allan’s (1900) huge survey on Channelkirk parish.  His description of the Roman camp was considerable, but he made no mention of an adjoining circle.  The best we got from him was a vague allusion about some ancient pre-christian site not far from the church, when he wrote:

“Whether or not some rude form of a place of worship might then exist on the spot where now a church has stood for so long it were rash to assert, but there are certain indications that some particular place, specially marked as consecrated to religious rites, was then a local possession.”

(it should be noted that the Canmore entry for this site has its location at the prehistoric camp due west of Kirktonhill, which is incorrect)


  1. Allan, Archibald, History of Channelkirk, J. Thin: Edinburgh 1900.
  2. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1989.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of British Isles, Yale University Press 1976.
  4. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  5. Craw, J H., “Early types of burial in Berwickshire“, in History Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 24, 1920.
  6. Elliot, Walter, “Anniversary Address Delivered at Berwick on the 30th of September, 1869,” in History Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 6, 1869-72.
  7. Thomson, A., Lauder and Lauderdale, Craighead Brothers: Galashiels 1902.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Lauder Common, Lauder, Berwickshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NT 49340 46162

Getting Here

Modern cairn on the old one

Take the B6362 high road between Lauder and Stow and, regardless of which direction you’re coming from, when you reach the top heights of the moorland road with views all around, you need to keep your eyes peeled for where a dirt-track runs south and, diagonally across the road on its north side, is a dirt-track-cum-parking-spot (if you came from Stow, you should’ve already noticed the cairn on the skyline on your way up).  There’s a hut circle in the heather by the parking spot.  From here, just walk over the heather nearly 300 yards north.  Y’ can’t really miss it.

Archaeology & History

Looking to the southeast

The first thing that you see as you approach here is a modern cairn which is sat upon the more ancient and completely overgrown one.  You can’t really see the “ancient” section of it until you walk round to its more northern side, where you’ll then notice how the new cairn has been built on top of a small but artificial rise in the ground, about ten yards across.  This is the original ancient cairn.  Sections of the ground have come away on its southern side, revealing a scattered mass of loose stones.  It doesn’t seem to have been excavated but has all the hallmarks of being typically Bronze Age by the look of it.  Of particular note is the superb view from here, not least towards the legendary Fairyland of the Eildon Hills, standing out clearly about 10 miles to the south…

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian