Traquair Churchyard, Traquair, Peeblesshire

Cup-Marked Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NT 3202 3347

Archaeology & History

In 1974, Ordnance Survey reported the existence of “a large piece of sandstone containing two depressions resembling cup marks” in the churchyard wall which, tradition told, originally came from the ruined 12th century parish church (long gone) more than 300 yards to the southwest (at NT 3185 3328).  However, in recent years the cup-marks seem to have disappeared and may be hiding behind the overgrowth of ivy in the boundary wall.  It needs to be recovered.

Halfway between the location of the original church and the present one, waters from the heathen St Bryde’s Well used to flow, but it had already been drained by 1856.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Moonzie, Cupar, Fife

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 34 18

Archaeology & History

There are no previous literary references to this small portable cup-marked rock, relocated recently by Paul Hornby during one of his various antiquarian meanderings.  Found in association with a much later architectural structure, it position in the landscape (near the top of a hill) would suggest that is was most probably located in a prehistoric cairn in earlier days—all traces of which have vanished.  But we cannot be sure of this and I’m merely speculating.

Moonzie cup-marked stone

Site of carving

The thin, fairly flat stone is about 18 inches across, by a foot wide, and consists of what seems to be 10 cup-marks (no rings, sadly), of which six of them are the real deal.  No other carvings officially exist anywhere near it and its isolation is an enigma… such as it is with petroglyphs…

Due to the fact that the stone can literally be picked up and moved by anyone, we’re hoping that it can be seen by local archaeologists and perhaps placed into a museum for safe-keeping.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Colpy, Culsalmond, Aberdeenshire

Stone Circle (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NJ 6411 3261

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 18272

Archaeology & History

Colpy Circle site on 1868 map
Colpy Circle site on 1868 map

Just like the stone circle a half-mile east at Kirkton of Culsalmond, nothing now remains of this megalithic ring.  It was first described very briefly by Rev. F. Ellis (1845) in the New Statistical Account as a “druidical temple”: one of two hereby, “on the farm of Colpie, although now almost obliterated. Several urns were dug up in making a road near one of them”—implying that one of them was a cairn circle or funerary monument of some kind.  This was subsequently affirmed on the early OS-map and then described in Fred Coles’ (1902) survey, where he wrote:

“Site of a stone circle, the road going to Jericho Distillery having been made through it, and, on the south side of this road, the site of a cairn. Within the possible diameter of the circle an urn was found.”


A few hundred yards west of the circle an ancient fair used to be held, known as St Sair’s Fair, named after St Serf.  Although St Serf’s Day is July 1, early records show that the fair—held in a long field with the curious name of ‘St Sairs Market Stance’—was to be held on the Wednesday after the last Tuesday in June.  For a stone circle, this is too close to Midsummer to be a coincidence!  Early records show that the fair was granted in 1591 and subsequent years thereafter.

St Serf is a very peculiar mythological figure with quite shamanistic traits and tales around him.  In truth, many of these early saints were little more than lapsed shamans, utilising natural magick and medicine in the olde traditions, but which became grafted onto the incoming christian mythos.  The evidence for this is quite overwhelming!


  1. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1989.
  2. Browne, G.F., On Some Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire, Cambridge University Press 1921.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, “The Recumbent Stone Circles of North-East Scotland”, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 102, 1973.
  4. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, Yale University Press 1976.
  5. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  6. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Aberdeenshire (Inverurie, Eastern Parishes, and Insch Districts),” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 36, 1902.
  7. Ellis, F., “Parish of Culsalmond,” in New Statistical Account of Scotland – volume 12: Aberdeen, William Blackwood: Edinburgh 1845.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Kirkton of Culsalmond, Aberdeenshire

Stone Circle (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NJ 6503 3293

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 18243

Archaeology & History

Site of the circle on 1873 map
Site of the circle on 1873 map

After standing at the same spot for 3000 years or more, near the beginning of the 19th century this stone circle was destroyed by the self-righteous christian cult that was rampaging its way through cultures far and wide.  After all, they needed to rid the area of local traditions and “improve” the locals, whether they liked it or not!  Thankfully however, one of their creed—a reverend Ferdinand Ellis: minister of the parish for forty years—recorded its destruction in the New Statistical Account between 1834-45. Amongst a variety of important traditional monuments that once existed hereby,

“A Druidical place of worship anciently stood about the middle of the churchyard or burying ground.  It consisted of a circle of twelve upright large granite stones from Benochee, which were overturned when the first Christian temple was erected.  One of these was taken up in 1821 and now remains above ground, near the spot where it was taken up.  The other eleven are still underground.  This is proof that the first christian missionaries, in this country, erected their places of worship as near as possible to the holy hills of the heathens, that the people might be more easily persuaded to assemble there.”

Persuaded‘ being a very broad term indeed when it came to the land confiscation of indigenous folk…

The stone that Ellis said “was taken up in 1821 and now remains above ground” was gone when Fred Coles (1902) surveyed the site, but he told how an earlier antiquarian and writer for the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, J.G. Callander, lived nearby, and who was

“told by the aged sexton, Florance, that he many a time came across a great stone, when preparing graves, and that he had himself blasted these more than once.”

It seems that all trace of this single stone, and the rest of them, either still lay in the ground or were used for local building material.

When John Barnatt (1989) came to add this circle in his corpus, for some reason he postulated that

“the number of stones suggest it was a recumbent stone circle”,

…that is: a stone circle possessing one large stone in the ring that’s laid down with two standing stones either side.  However, there seems no real evidence to show that this was the case.


  1. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1989.
  2. Browne, G.F., On Some Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire, Cambridge University Press 1921.
  3. Burl, H.A.W., “The Recumbent Stone Circles of North-East Scotland“, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 102, 1973.
  4. Burl, H.A.W., The Stone Circles of the British Isles, Yale University Press 1976.
  5. Burl, H.A.W., The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  6. Coles, Fred R., “Report on Stone Circles in Aberdeenshire (Inverurie, Eastern Parishes, and Insch Districts),” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 36, 1902.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Dunino, Fife

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 541 109

Also Known as:

  1. Balkethly
  2. Balkaithley
  3. Canmore ID 34487

Archaeology & History

We know very little about the site that once stood here — even Aubrey Burl (2000) found no history here.  It seems that antiquarian records were never made in this outlying district and even folklore records seem to have missed this region! (surely not?)  A. Lindsay Mitchell (1992) told that the circle here had been built into the church, but knew no more.

First described in the old Statistical Account of Scotland in 1794, even then it was in the past tense, as they said that “a Druidical temple is said to have stood in the vicinity of Balkethly. Not the smallest vestige can now be seen.”  Balkaithly Farm is a few hundred yards east of Dunino.  In the New Statistical Account of the region in 1845 it was reported that three stones close to the west wall of the minister’s garden at Dunino were said to be part of the ruined circle. The site had truly gone.  By 1925 when the Royal Commission (1933) lads visited the place to look for any remains, they told:

“The stone circle which formerly existed near the church at Dunino has now been entirely destroyed, but what are believed to be portions of some of the original stones are built into the dyke on the north side of the roadway at the south-west of the churchyard, about 100 yards east of its junction with the main thoroughfare to St. Andrews.”

A few hundred yards west of the circle, “a short cist containing a fine food-vessel urn was accidentally discovered during ploughing on the farm of Beley.” This was sent to Edinburgh’s National Museum.


Locally, there are several places alleged to have been the actual spot where the circle once stood.  Several stones within nearby Dunino church have typical Mason marks carved on them which, local folklore says, identifies them as coming from the circle and then subsequently being built into the church.  Also in the churchyard is a small carved upright stone, which local people visit and leave offerings upon.


  1. Batchelor, Richard A., Origin of St. Andrews: Moon, Magicians and Maidens in Fife, Shieling: St. Andrews 1997.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  3. Leighton, John M., History of the County of Fife from the Earliest Period to the Present Time – volume 3, Joseph Swan: Glasgow 1840.
  4. Mitchell, A. Lindsay, Hidden Scotland, Lochar: Moffat 1992.
  5. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  6. Stuart, John, Sculptured Stones of Scotland – volume 2, Spalding Club: Edinburgh 1867.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Carlie Craig, Blairlogie, Stirlingshire

Legendary Rocks:  OS Grid Reference – NS 816 970

Also Known as:

  1. Carla Craig
  2. Carlin Craig
  3. Witches’ Craig

Getting Here

Carlie Craig is the tree- covered cliff, centre of photo

If you’re coming from Blairlogie, a half-mile west of the village, take the B998 road to the university, but turn right up the first road that runs uphill into the trees.  But if you’re coming from Stirling or Bridge of Allan, keep your eyes peeled for the barely visible B998 at the crossroads and go up the hill, and along, for a good mile, below the Uni, past the factory, then up the small road on your left.  Up this road go past the church another 100 yards and you’ll see the derelict ruins of Logie Kirk on your right.  Right above the ruin you’ll see the tree-lined cliff immediately behind.  This is the Carlie Craig!


Carlie Craig on the 1862 map
Carlie Craig on the 1862 map

The tree-covered Carlie Crags above the old ruined church and graveyard of Logie Kirk immediately below (thought to have been built in 1684) has long been associated with legends of old witches.  Deriving its name from ‘carlin’, a witch or old woman (cailleach), the Crags were traditionally the place of heathen rites (authentic ones, not your plastic pagan types).  In David Morris’ (1935) essay on the local township, he told the common story that “an elder in Logie Kirk was of the opinion that the Carla’ Craig…was haunted.”  At the end of the 19th century, Morris remembered a local lady known as ‘Ailie’, who was said by many old folk to be the traditional “witch of Logie.”

“Sickly children were brought to her for her blessing. Occasionally people came from as far as Stirling on this errand.  Her method of giving the blessing was to blow her breath on the child, and this was supposed to ward off evil.  It was also said that anyone buried in Logie Kirkyard on the first day of May, Hallowe’en, or other days of that kind, without her blessing, would not rest in his grave…”

Another legend told that,

“around 1720 witches were believed to rendezvous with the Evil One (i.e. the devil) who would appear in the form of a large black dog.”

A lengthier account of the belief in witchcraft and animistic pre-christian rites above the crags was told by Charles Rogers (1853):

“About the second decade of last century, there lived in the parish of Logie several ill-favoured old women, to whom the reputation of witchcraft was confidently attached.  They were believed to hold nocturnal dialogues and midnight revels with the Evil One, and Carlie Crag was regarded as one of their places of rendezvous. Satan, though he was believed to appear to them in various forms, was understood, in his interviews with the dreaded sisterhood, to appear most frequently in the aspect of a large shaggy dog, in which form it was alleged he had repeatedly been seen by the minister.  An elder of the kirk had been returning of an evening from a shooting excursion among the hills, with a trusty musket, which he had picked up some years before on the field of Sheriffmuir, and discovering on the top of Carlie an animal realizing the description of the Satanic mastiff, resolved to try upon it the effects of a shot. He knelt down cautiously near the foot of the crag, and after ejaculating a short prayer, and slipping into his musket a silver coin, fired with trembling heart but steady aim.  His victim, evidently shot dead, tumbled to the base, and the delighted and astonished elder lost no time in personally communicating to the minister the success of his wonderful adventure. Though not a little superstitious, the minister was somewhat sceptical as to the mysterious dog being really dead. He however agreed to accompany his elder next morning to the foot of the crag to inspect the carcase; but on reaching the spot, they found the remains of no shaggy dog or evil genius, but the lifeless form of the beautiful pet goat of a poor and aged woman, a much respected parishioner. The minister and elder both shed tears. The wicked dog still lived, the innocent goat had perished. The elder however took credit to himself for his good intentions and valorous intrepidity ; and the minister deemed it proper to improve the subject in his pulpit prelections on the following Sabbath. Discoursing on the subject of resistance to the Devil, he remarked, that the Evil One might assume numerous shapes and forms; that he went about as a roaring lion was declared in the Word, but he might take to himself various other aspects. He might even appear as a black colley dog.”  But whatever form he may assume,” added the minister, ” he cannot be overcome or destroyed by powder and shot. There is a gun, however, that will shoot him, and it is this — it is the Bible. Shoot him then, every one of you, with this gun, and he shall be shot.”

Whether the vicar’s biblical superstitions were adopted by local people—who were so much more used to the living animism of landscape and natural cycles—is questionable.  The crag is a fine site for ritual magick and its associative devil-lore probably derives from Pictish shamanistic practices, remains of which are evident across the Scottish hillls and northern England, where they survived for some considerable time…


  1. Morris, David, B., “Causewayhead a Hundred Years Ago”, in Transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society, 1935.
  2. Roger, Charles, A Week at Bridge of Allan, Adam & Charles Black: Edinburgh 1853.
  3. Watson, Angus, The Ochils – Placenames, History, Tradition, Perth & Kinross District Libraries 1995.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Eyam Cross, Eyam, Derbyshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference — SK 2178 7639

Getting Here

The village of Eyam is located some 9 miles south-east of Chapel-en-le-Frith and about the same from Sheffield, which lies to the north-east. Go to the centre of the village and find the church of St Lawrence standing beside the road to Foolow close to Eyam Hall and just west of the B6521 road to Sheffield.  The Saxon cross stands in the churchyard.

History and Folklore

Eyam Cross, east face (from Wikipedia)

This very fine Anglo-Saxon (Mercian) cross stands 8 foot tall and dates from the 8th-9th centuries. It was apparently set up by missionaries from the north at Cross Low on the moors to the west of Eyam. Originally it was a wayside preaching cross that was 10 feet high and certainly must have looked very spectacular, but now it is only 8 feet high due to it being knocked about a bit in more recent times and losing one of its shaft sections. In the 18th century the cross was discovered beside a trackway on the moors, from whence it was brought to the churchyard of St Lawrence’s church;  but then for a long time it stood abandoned and uncared for in the corner of the churchyard. Eventually  it was restored and placed in the churchyard where it now stands proudly.

The cross is said to be the only one of its type in the Midlands that retains its cross-head. It has some very rich decoration on the west face with fabulous interlacing scroll-work running up the shaft that is typically Mercian in origins. On the west-face, especially the upper section, there are human figures probably St Mary the Virgin with the baby Jesus, angels and Christ in glory, each in their own sections or panels. The cross is grade 1 listed.  St Lawrence’s church houses a Saxon font.


  1. Rev. Arthur, C., Illustrated Notes on English Church History, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge: London 1901.
  2. Rodgers, Frank, Curiosities of Derbyshire and the Peak District, Derbyshire Countryside Ltd 2000.

Copyright ©  Ray Spencer 2011 

Rocester Church Cross, Staffordshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SK 11170 39394

Getting Here

Rocester Church Cross

The Staffordshire village of Rocester is 4 miles north of Uttoxeter on the B5030 road. It can easily be reached from Stoke on Trent, Leek and Ashbourne. The church of St Michael with its interesting Medieval church-yard cross is located on Dove Lane in the centre of the pretty little, olde-worlde village.

Archaeology & History

The cross stands some 40 yards away from St Michael’s church. It is quite a striking monument standing 20 feet high and dating from the 13th century. It stands on 3 tier circular steps displaying convexed mouldings and a graduated base stone. It’s long, tapering shaft is described as “quadrilobe” which has sunken dog-tooth, or fret-work decoration on two sides. Unfortunately, the head is missing, but it’s collared coronet remains in place.

The Rocester church-yard cross was listed as Grade II in 1966 and the English Heritage Building ID is 407190.

Copyright © Ray Spencer 2011

Foldys Cross, Towneley, Burnley, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 8523 3066

Also Known as:

  1. Foldy’s Cross

Getting Here

To get to Towneley Park head to the south side of the town close to a junction of two roads heading towards Todmorden and Bacup, from here the park and hall are signposted. The old cross stands 300 metres south-west of Townley Hall in the centre of some pathways leading in the direction of Todmorden road (the A671).

Archaeology & History

Foldys Cross, Burnley (Taylor, 1906)

Foldy’s Cross is a tall slender monument on a carved circular pedestal which sits upon a set of seven square-shaped steps. It dates from 1520 when it stood at the south side of St Peter’s parish church, Burnley. It was set up to commemorate a chaplain of St Peter’s church by the name of John Foldy or Foldys, and was then the town’s market cross or St Peter’s churchyard cross. In 1780 it was badly damaged by a Puritan mob, but the Towneley family rescued it and had it brought to their estate where it was repaired in a haphazard way and placed at the north-eastern side of the hall on the Avenue. In 1911 Burnley Borough Council had the cross completely restored for its Jubilee Year celebrations with various sandstone pieces added to replace sections of the cross including the plinth and set of seven steps – which are thought to be an exact copy of the original ones. The cross was then placed in its current position 300 metres to the south-east of Towneley Hall at an intersection of footpaths leading towards Todmorden road.

The original design of Foldy’s Cross was of the Gothic style which can be seen in the cross-head. It is made of sandstone and has an octagonal shaft with a moulded plinth with sunken panels. These panels contain lettering in the Gothic script. The cross-head is very nice with its decorated four arms, one of which is sunk into the shaft to support the head itself; this appears to be the original moulded head or cap with nicely carved emblems and fleurons on the collar – all typically Gothic in style. In the middle of the cross-head is a rather crude crucifix scene and on the other side the letters “IHS”. On the plinth the inscription reads in Latin:

‘Orate pro anima Johannes Foldys, capellani qui istam crucem fieri fecit Anno Domini MCCCCCXX’

— which when translated reads as, “Pray for the soul of John Foldys, chaplain who caused this cross to be made in the year of Our Lord 1520”.

The cross is now grade II listed and the English Heritage Building identity number is 467232.


  1. Peace, Richard, The Curiosities of England – Lancashire Curiosities, The Dovecot Press Ltd 1997.
  2. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.

© Ray Spencer, 2011

St. Peter’s Cross, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SJ 8792 4521

Getting Here

Drawing of carved cross shaft (© Ray Spencer)

From the centre of Stoke head west onto Glebe Street and just a couple of hundred yards or so south of the town hall is the minster church of St Peter Ad Vincula (St. Peter in Chains). Go into the large graveyard and there the ancient Saxon cross-shaft stands behind some modern iron railings. There are many other things of interest to see in the churchyard, including some old arches and monuments / gravestones in memory of some famous potters that made Stoke famous during the industrial revolution.

Archaeology & History

The Mercian cross-shaft stands 4 feet high on a 19th century square, socketed lump of stone. It is said to date from about AD 1000 when it was in use as a preaching cross, but could in fact be from earlier than that according to some local historians – perhaps it was originally a Christianized stone. The first Saxon settlement at Stoke (Stoiche) was said to date from c 800 AD. The cylindrical shaped shaft was discovered in 1876 by a gravedigger who spotted it being used as a door lintel inside the old church which was being demolished to make way for a newer church building. During its recovery the shaft broke in two so it was placed in storage, but in 1935 it was formally identified by Mr Charles Lynam who had it restored and re-erected in the churchyard.

Sadly the shaft is quite badly eroded with the carvings on one side being difficult to make out, but the front face has interlacing and scroll-work; there is some key-patterning on the sides and reverse side along with a series or section of small holes – these perhaps done in more recent times. The break across the middle of the shaft can still be seen today, but that does not detract from its great antiquity, the ancient monument being carefully restored. On the base there is an inscription that reads:

‘This fragment of a pre-Norman cross identified by Chas Lynam F.S.A. was re-erected near to its original position in the 25th year of the reign of H.M. King George V by P.W.L.Adams F.S.A.’

The cross-shaft is a Grade II listed monument.


  1. Pickford, Doug., Staffordshire – Its Magic & Mystery, Sigma Press Wilmslow, Cheshire 1994.

© Ray Spencer, 2011