Strathblane Churchyard, Stirlingshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 56387 79375

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 44452

Getting Here

Strathblane church's heathen creator

Strathblane church’s heathen creator

From whichever direction you’re coming from along the A81 into Strathblane, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for where the A891 turns off it to the east.  Go  and along there and barely 100 yards on the church is set back from the road.  Walk into the graveyard, turn left and you can’t really miss it amidst the mass of modern graves.

Archaeology & History

Location of the stone, from Smith 1886

Location of the stone, from Smith 1886

In accordance with the occasional tradition of standing stones in churchyards (such as the Rudston monolith and many others), a short stumpy monolith, less than four feet high, here stands alone in the christian burial ground surrounding Strathblane’s parish church.  The top of the stone is quite flat and it’s possible that this once stood much taller, with the top of the stone being chopped off (such destruction has happened at the Cuckoo Stones and many other megalithic sites).  It’s certainly worth looking at and stands amidst a cluster of other ancient sites—some gone, some still in evidence—in and around this lovely old village.  Not much has been written about the stumpy little fella and its first literary reference seems to be in Mr Smith’s (1886) magnum opus on the area, where he tells:

“There is a very old standing stone in the churchyard, but most probably it was placed there long before there was any church in the parish.”

…Nothing else.  Even the Royal Commission (1963) lads said little about it, merely telling us:

“A few yards within the entrance to the graveyard of Strathblane Parish Church…a standing stone appears among the monuments.  It is a five-sided pillar, 3ft 9in high, with an uneven but flattish top.  At ground level the sides range from 1ft 9ins to 2ft 3in in width.”

The stone, looking south

The stone, looking south

The stone, looking southeast

The stone, looking southeast

The fact that it stands by the church (rebuilt around 1803 out of its more ancient fabric) suggests that the site was a heathen temple or sacred site, redesignated by the invading christian priesthood.  A short distant east and west have been found a number of prehistoric remains in the forms of burials, standing stones and giant cairns, indicating this site to have had particular mythic importance in earlier centuries.  From the standing stone if we look southeast, we see the rise of Dunglass, but the view to the stones and great pyramid of Dumgoyach, northwest, is blocked by the rise of Cuilt Brae, which I found to be a little surprising.

References:

  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments Scotland, Stirling – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.
  2. Smith, John G., The Parish of Strathblane, James Maclehose: Glasgow 1886.
  3. Ure, David, The History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride, Glasgow 1793.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.985778, -4.303557 Strathblane church

Broadgate Farm, Strathblane, Stirlingshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 56929 79402

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 44439

Getting Here

Broadgate Farm standing stone

Broadgate Farm standing stone

From Strathblane, take the A891 road eastwards out of the village, past the standing stone in the churchyard and the row of houses set back off the road until, a few hundred yards along, the fields open up on both sides of you.  In the very first field on the north side of the road, you’ll see the standing stone, all alone, resting quietly.  There’s a gate enabling you access into the field…

Archaeology & History

Broadgate Stone, with Dunglass SE

Broadgate Stone, with Dunglass SE

Found in close proximity to the destroyed chambered tomb of Broadgate, this small standing stone is presently set in a concrete base after an excavation here in 1982 located a cremation urn beneath the stone, confirming an old tradition that told as much.  But there are some who think the stone isn’t a prehistoric one—the Royal Commission (1963) lads for one.  In their brief resumé of the site they wrote:

“This stone stands just N of the road from Campsie to Strathblane, 140 yds E of Broadgate farmhouse.  It is 4ft high and measures 2ft 3inches by 3ft at ground level.  It may well be the stone referred to in the New Statistical Account as marking the spot where Mr Stirling of Ballagan was murdered in the 17th century and should therefore not necessarily be accepted as of prehistoric origin.”

And were it not for an excavation nearly twenty years later, this view may have been maintained.  However, when Lorna Main (1982) told of what was found beneath the monolith, no mention was made of any recent remains.  She wrote:

“Excavation at the base of the fallen standing stone was undertaken prior to its re-erection. A ledge had been cut on the south-west side of the shallow stone hole and fragments of the base survived and the diameter of the base is approximately 17cm.  The urn contained a cremation and a small quantity of charcoal.  It lay only 15cm below the ground surface and is in a poor condition.”

The very fragile state of the urn and the very eroded rounded stature of the rock itself would seem to indicate that this is more a prehistoric upright than a later 17th century one.

Folklore

There are legends of early battles in this region and J.G. Smith (1886) thought that perhaps “this great stone…mark the resting-places of Cymric heroes who did their share of the battle on the north side of the valley.”

References:

  1. Main, Lorna, “Broadgate Farm – Standing Stone and Cinerary Urn,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1982.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments Scotland, Stirling – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.
  3. Smith, John G., The Parish of Strathblane, James Maclehose: Glasgow 1886.
  4. Ure, David, The History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride, Glasgow 1793.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.986189, -4.294888 Broadgate Farm