Whooping Cough Stone, Struan, Perthshire

Legendary Rock: OS Grid Reference – NN 816 653

Getting Here

Old photo of the stone (after Duncan Fraser)

Up the A9 past Blair Atholl, a few miles later there’s the turning for Struan.  Scarcely a mile east of old Struan Church, head past the old farmhouse of Old Kindrochat and keep going eastwards along the edge of the trees for about 200 yards until you reach the sheepfold. There you’ll see a singular rock sitting alone by the fence. That’s it!

Archaeology & History

This little known healing stone was, at one time last century, of great repute in the Highlands. Today, very few people even know it exists. One of many rocks that were said to possess healing abilities, this one (obviously) was of great repute in the curing of whooping cough. But it wasn’t the rock alone that did the work here, for upon its edge was a small basin into which rainwater collected and this, when used correctly and in due accord with ancient ritual tradition, could enact the cure.  Mr Duncan Fraser said of this fascinating healing stone:

“The grey water-worn stone is about 4ft 6in long, 2ft 6in broad and 2ft high, with a deep gash on top, where the water lingers even in long dry spells. When full it holds about half-a-gallon. People were still coming here with their sick children as late as 1860 — and bringing a spoon made from the horn of a living cow. There was no cure without that.”

The ritual “spoon made from the horn of a living cow” was an important ingredient at another site with the reputation for curing whooping cough about 50 miles south of here, near Balquhidder. (see Whooping Cough Well, Killin)  What truly fascinates me is the origin of this stone and its medicinal virtues.  When  did the healing rites first start here – how long ago…?

References:

  1. Fraser, Duncan, Highland Perthshire, Standard Press: Montrose 1969.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Whooping Cough Stone

loading map - please wait...

Whooping Cough Stone 56.764883, -3.937431 Whooping Cough Stone