Samson’s Stone, Crieff, Perthshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – NN 82519 22021

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 96866

Getting Here

Samson Stone on 1866 map

Samson Stone on 1866 map

Tale the A85 road between Comrie and Crieff and, roughly halfway between the two towns, take the minor road south to Strowan (it’s easily missed, so be aware!).  A few hundred yards along, stop where the trees begin and walk into the fields immediately east.  Keep walking, below the line of the trees, and you’ll get to it within five minutes.

Archaeology & History

Samson's Stone, looking east

Samson’s Stone, looking east

Mistakenly cited by some as a standing stone, the large boulder which rests here on the hillside just below the woodland is a glacial erratic.  Highlighted on the 1866 OS-map of the region, I hoped that we might find some rock art on the stone, but cup-and-rings there were none.  However, there is a curious ‘footprint’ on top of it, similar to the ones found at Dunnad, at Murlaganmore and other places (see Bord 2004); but I can find no previous reference to this carved footprint.

'Footprint' on top of stone

‘Footprint’ on top of stone

In 1863 the site was described in the local Name Book, where it was reported to be “a large oblong shaped stone lying on the surface, eight feet long, four wide, and three thick”; but, much like today, it was also reported that “There is no tradition respecting it in the neighbourhood. Supposed to have received the name in consequence of its great size.”

Most peculiar…..

References:

  1. Bord, Janet, Footprints in Stone, Heart of Albion Press 2004.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Samson Stone

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Samson Stone 56.375822, -3.903839 Samson Stone

Lawers, Comrie, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 80102 22666

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25535

Getting Here

Lawers01 (9)

Lawers standing stone, Comrie

Take the A85 road between Comrie and Crieff.  Nearly 1.7 miles (2.7km) east out of Comrie—or 4 miles (6.44km) west out of Crieff—keep your eyes peeled on the fields to the south-side of the road, below and across the mansion of Lawers House.  Alongside a long but small plantation of trees you’ll see a large upright stone.  You can walk along the track adjacent to the field and through the gate.

Archaeology & History

The stone on 1886 OS-map

The stone on 1886 OS-map

Shown on the early Ordnance Survey maps of the area, this probably neolithic monolith was suggested by Fred Coles (1911) to have once been part of a larger megalithic circle—although Aubrey Burl (2000) didn’t consider it as a good enough contender to be listed as such in his gazetteer; and unless we can have some positive affirmation, either through folklore or excavation, we should maintain its status as a singular monolith.  There is the possibility that it stood as an outlier or had some relationship with a nearby prehistoric tomb—but even this is contentious.  Nevertheless, the stone itself is an impressive one!

Mr Coles curiously got the size of the old stone wrong too (although, we have to give him credit, as he did all of his work without electricity or any of our modern ‘stuff’).  He wrote that:

“This massive boulder of whinstone is rounded at the base, where it girths 10 feet 3 inches, but tapers upwards to its apex of 5 feet 10 inches, with the eastern edge somewhat jagged and broken.  Near its base on the west is a small slab-like fragment of stone, quite earthfast.  The north and south surfaces are smooth and nearly vertical, and the longer axis is ESE 75º by WNW 75º.”

Fred Coles' 1911 sketch

Fred Coles’ 1911 sketch

Lawers monolith, looking SE

Lawers monolith, looking SE

The stone is actually larger than Coles described, being more than 6 feet 6 inches tall.  His sketch (right) “shows the stone from the east”, and is pretty much as we find it today.  A notable crack in the stone along the southern face, about a third of the way up, suggests that the stone was broken at some time in the past.

Local architect Andrew Finlayson (2010) included the stone in his local megalith guide and noted how the axes of the stone, east-west, lines it up with Ben Halton to the west and The Knock to the east.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  2. Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Lawers stone

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Lawers stone 56.381094, -3.943188 Lawers stone

Concraig, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 85480 19503

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25285

Getting Here

Concraig on the 1863 map
Concraig on the 1863 map

Take the A822 road south out of Crieff and less than half a mile down, in a field on the east side of the road is the giant solitary standing stone of Dargill. On the opposite side of the road from here (roughly) is a small country lane. Go along here and past the third field on your left, park up.  Look down the fields for a coupla hundred yards and you’ll see the standing stone. Make your way there by following the field-edges.

Archaeology & History

Concraig stone, near Crieff
Concraig stone, near Crieff

Closer to the larger town of Crieff than it is to the village of Muthill, this seven-foot tall standing stone, leaning at an angle to the north, with a small scatter of stones around its base, stands alone near the side of the field, feeling as if others once lived close by.  It’s set within a distinctly nurturing landscape, enclosed all round instead of screaming to the hills, with that nourishing female quality, less commonly found than those stones on the open moors.  The only real ‘opening’ in the landscape is “to the distant east”, as Andrew Finlayson (2010) noted.

Concraig, looking south
Concraig, looking south
Fred Coles 191 drawing
Fred Coles 191 drawing

First highlighted when the Ordnance Survey lads came here in 1863, the stone hasn’t fared too well in antiquarian tomes.  Fred Coles (1911), as usual, noted it in one of his Perthshire surveys, but could find very little information from local people about the place, simply stating that,

“in an open field about 300 yards to the north-west of Concraig, there stands this irregularly four-sided block of conglomerate schist… The stone measures 9 feet 3 inches round the base and stands 7 feet 3 inches in height.  About halfway up its eastern face it has been broken so as to leave a very distinct ledge.”

What appears to be cup-markings on the southern-face of the stone are just Nature’s handiwork.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.353958, -3.854827 Concraig stone

Dalchirla (east), Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference NN 82446 15893

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25355

Getting Here

Dalchira's standing stones
Dalchira’s standing stones

Along the A822 road between Crieff and Muthill, take the small western country lane just as you’re coming out of Muthill. Nearly 2 miles on, take the turn to the right, and then 100 yards or so from there turn sharp left. Keep along this country lane for about a mile till you reach the third track on your left.  Walk down the track and you’ll see the standing stones in the field on your left. A gate into the field is by the house.

Archaeology & History

A fascinating pair of relatively large standing stones 317 yards (289.5m) SSE of the tall singular monolith of Dalchira North in the adjacent field.  Traditionally said to have once been part of s stone circle, it was marked as such when the Ordnance Survey lads came here in 1863, but there is very little evidence of such a megalithic ring today—and even the small stone lying in between the two uprights is probably a more recent addition to the site.  It certainly wasn’t mentioned by Fred Coles (1911) when he came here, who gave only a brief description of the place.

Dalchira East & the skyline notch of Lurgan Hill
Dalchira East & the skyline notch of Lurgan Hill
Dalchira, looking east
Dalchira, looking east

The stones were included in Margaret Stewart’s (1968) list of megalithic pairings as measuring 7ft 6in x 4ft 3in x 2ft and 4ft 3in x 3ft 6in x 1ft respectively, and 8ft apart.  There is a small stone laid down in between them which has cup-marks on it, but these indentations are natural nodules in conglomerate rock.  But the measurements and angles of Dalchira East were examined by the late great Alexander Thom (1967; 1990) who thought they had been positioned specifically to observe and predict lunar movements across the sky, saying that the alignment of these stones “shows the declination of the Moon rising at the minor standstill.”  He may have been right.

Thom's geometry of Dalchirla
Thom’s geometry of Dalchirla

In Aubrey Burl’s notes to Thom (1990) he told that the size and shapes of these stones “have been interpreted as anthropomorphic, the taller, or alternatively the more pointed , usually at the west, being the male, the lower or flat-topped he female.” He subsequently included this site in his own work on megalithic stone rows (Burl 1993), without further comment.

Tis a peculiar site inasmuch there doesn’t seem to be much ‘feeling’ to the place.  I’m sure the site is gonna have its days, but more than likely the neat and tidy farmed theatre has subsumed the genius loci to all but the most auspicious of times—most likely generated when the pull of the Moon still tugs at any geomagnetic background memory… Still, it’s definitely worth looking at.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Heggie, Douglas C., Megalithic Science: Ancient Mathematics and Astronomy in Northwest Europe, Thames & Hudson: London 1981.
  5. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Excavation of a Setting of Standing Stones at Lundin Farm near Aberfedly, Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 98, 1966.
  6. Thom, Alexander, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press 1967.
  7. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.320787, -3.902278 Dalchirla (east)

Dalchirla (north), Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 82274 16125

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25356

Getting Here

The big fella in the field
The big fella in the field

Along the A822 road between Crieff and Muthill, take the small western country lane just as you’re coming out of Muthill. Nearly 2 miles on, take the turn to the right, and then 100 yards or so from there turn sharp left. Keep along this gorgeous country lane for about a mile till you reach the third track on your left and park up.  Walk down the track and you’ll see the standingh stone in the field on your right. Go all the way to the bottom where the farm is and go through the gate into the field.

Archaeology & History

The slim end of the wedge
The slim end of the wedge

Less than 2 miles southeast of the megalithic titan of  Dunruchan A, we find a slightly smaller monolith positioned on lower ground and humbled by a more manicured landscape close to the farmhouse.  But it’s still a big fella, albeit hemmed in by a mass of field clearance rocks piled up and around the base (two of which have odd carvings on them).  The stone is about ten-feet tell, being very slim on its north-south side and much wider on its east-west face.  For some reason I got the impression that the stone wasn’t standing in its original position; though in searching through my megalith library for further information on the site, l found that very little has been written about it.  The earliest literary evidence comes, as usual, from Fred Coles (1911), who simply told us:

“In a field south of Machany Water and NE of Dalchirla farm-steading 260 yards, there stands this tall and striking monolith… In essential features this stone much resembles most of the great schistose blocks which characterize the main portion of the Strathearn area; but it tapers upwards to a very thin and narrow summit that rather distinguishes it from its fellows. It stands 9 feet 4 inches above ground, and girths at the base 7 feet 11 inches.  It is set with its longer axis due north and south. Around its base there are several large masses of stone—not earthfast—amid a conglomeration of smaller pieces evidently cleared off the field.”

Fred Coles' 1911 drawing
Fred Coles’ 1911 drawing

The prehistoric cairn of Torlum to the north may have had some significance to the setting of the stone, but without excavation and details of its original site, we’re just grasping at straws when it comes to evaluating any potential geomancy or landscape relationships—with the megalithic stone row in the next field perhaps being an exception!

The moorlands above here, stretching for many a mile, is apparently lacking in any prehistoric remains if you listen to the official records. But with the Dunruchan megalithic complex only two miles away and the once-giant tomb of Cairnwochel over the southeastern horizon, we know that cannot be possible… Watch this space!

References:

  1. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.322832, -3.905170 Dalchirla (north)

Strowan, Crieff, Perthshire

Tumulus:  OS Grid Reference – NN 81998 20832

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25510

Getting Here

The faerie mound of Strowan
The faerie mound of Strowan

If you’re coming southwest out of Crieff on the A822, as you cross the river take the right-turn just before leaving the town along the country lane onto Strowan and Dalginross.  Nearly 2½ miles along there’s the small junction on your right to Strowan House and church. Just past this turning, the next field on by the roadside, has a large rounded tree-covered mound living quietly. That’s the fella!

Archaeology & Folklore

Found halfway between Crieff and Comrie in the field on the north-side of the road, this large oak-covered tumulus was, seemingly, first described in notes made by the old archaeologist O.G.S. Crawford following a quick visit he made here in 1936.  The place has, since then, never been excavated to find out exactly what might be hiding therein!  It’s quite a big fella too: about 10 feet high and 40 yards across (east-west)—similar in size and design to the prehistoric burial mounds at Tulloch and Kinpurnie.  Some large rocks make up the sides and edges of the mound, with smaller ones scattered here and there, giving the distinct impression of a very overgrown cairn of sorts.

Tis a quiet and tranquil arena, amidst fervent colours of meadows and old trees. Another 2 miles further down the same road is the equally tranquil (though ruined) megalithic ring of Dunmoid

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Strowan tomb

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Strowan tomb 56.365064, -3.911740 Strowan tomb

Witches Stone, Monzie, Crieff, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 87980 24321

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25448
  2. The Witches Stone & her crags to the rear
    The Witches Stone & her crags to the rear

    Kor Stone

Getting Here

Along the A822 road past Crieff and then Gilmerton, shortly past here is a small road to Monzie and the Glenturret Distillery or Famous Grouse Experience. Go on this road and after a just a coupla hundred yards you’ll see the large old gatehouse for Monzie Castle on the left. Ask at the gatehouse and they’ll point you to the stone—in the field about 300 yards past the Monzie stone circle, 200 yards past the gatehouse itself.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

The southern flat face of the Witches Stone
The southern flat face of the Witches Stone

This is a fascinating stone for a variety of reasons—not least of which it enabled us to identify an otherwise curious geological anomaly as an unerected standing stone some 16 miles SSW…but that’s a story for later!  The stone here leans at an angle in the field, as shown in the photo, but it still rises 5 feet tall and is a thick chunky fella, with one face very flat and smoothed indeed from top to bottom.  This side of the stone was obviously cut and dressed this way when first erected.  As Paul Hornby then noted, its western face is also quite flat and smoothed aswell, with the edge between the two sides almost squared at right-angles.  The eastern and southern sides of the stone are undressed, as the phrase goes.  These physical characteristics have just been found at a newly found pair of un-erected standing stones on the western edges of the Ochils, just below a newly found cairn circle.

Fred Coles 1911 drawing
Fred Coles 1911 drawing
Witches Stone, looking NE past Milquhanzie Hill fort
Witches Stone, looking NE past Milquhanzie Hill fort

There were several early descriptions of this stone, two of which talked about an avenue or road along which the stone seemed to stand within.  This ‘avenue’ was in fact the very edge of what is probably an earlier prehistoric enclosure—but you can’t really see this anymore unless you’re in the air (check Google Earth, which shows it reasonably well).

In J. Romilly Allen’s (1882) account, he mentions the stone only in passing, telling it to be “a single standing stone measuring 4 feet by 3 feet and 5 feet high (with) no markings on it.”  It was later described in Fred Coles’ (1911) survey of the region where he told:

“This monolith is the westerly of the two prehistoric sites grouped on the O.M. as Standing Stones. It stands a few yards to the south of the avenue, almost half a mile from the East Lodge. The Stone has a slight lean towards the north. Its southern side is remarkably broad and smooth, measuring 4 feet across the base on that side, in girth 13 feet 1 inch and in vertical height 4 feet 9 inches.”

Alignment to Monzie stone circle, just visible in field
Alignment to Monzie stone circle, just visible in field

In Alexander Thom’s edited magnum opus (1980) he found that this standing stone—800 feet northwest of the superb Monzie cup-and-ring stone and associated megalithic ring—marks the midsummer sunset from the stone circle. We noted on our visit here, that this alignment runs to the distant cairn on the far northwest horizon, many miles away.

Folklore

In Joyce Miller’s (2010) excellent work on Scottish heathenism, she told the folowing tale of this stone:

“The standing stone is said to mark the site of Kate McNiven or MacNieven’s, sometimes known as the witch of Monzie, execution. The story goes that she was put in a barrel and rolled down what is now known as Kate MacNieven’s Craig on the north side of the Knock of Crieff before being burnt.  Kate had been the nurse to the Grahams of Inchbrackie, and was accused of witchcraft, including turning herself into a bee.  Graham of Inchbrackie tried to save her but to no avail, but as she was about to die it is said that she spat a bead from her necklace into his hand. The bead – a blue sapphire – was turned into a ring and it was believed that the ring would keep the family and lands secure.  She did, however, curse the laird of Monzie, although whether this worked or not is not known. MacNiven or Nic Niven was also believed to be the name of the Queen of Fairies.  Indeed it is not clear whether Kate MacNiven was a real person or is a conflation of stories. There do not appear to be any contemporary records of her execution at or near Crieff, and dates for her unpleasant death are variously given as 1563, 1615 and 1715.”

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notes on some Undescribed Stones with Cup Markings in Scotland,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, volume 16, 1882.
  2. Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Holder, Geoff, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire, History Press 2006.
  5. Marshall, William, Historic Scenes in Perthshire, Oliphant: Edinburgh 1881.
  6. Miller, Joyce, Magic and Witchcraft in Scotland, Goblinshead 2010.
  7. Thom, Alexander, “Megalithic Astronomy: Indications in Standing Stones,” in Vistas in Astronomy, volume 7, 1966.
  8. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, H.A.W., Megalithic Rings, BAR: Oxford 1980.
  9. Watson, David, A Simple Introduction to the Stone Circles and Standing Stones of Perthshire, 2006.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Witches Stone

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Witches Stone 56.397824, -3.816463 Witches Stone

Dargill, Crieff, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 85918 20054

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25443

Getting Here

Dargill Standing Stone
Dargill Standing Stone

Take the A822 straight road south out of Crieff and as you pass the garden centre on your right and the fields and trees begin either side of the road, you need to watch out in the field on your left-hand side.  Just a couple of hundred yards after passing beyond the garden centre, stop.  Look in the field there and you’ll see the object in question. You can’t really miss him!

Archaeology & History

As you approach or leave Crieff along the A822 you can easily pass this stone by. Which would be a pity, as it’s quite a giant standing alone just above the slight ridge in the field.  And in times gone by, not only were there other standing stones here as companions, but a cluster of other prehistoric pits, enclosures and linear markings were all around this very spot.  Some of them are visible as faint crop-marks even today, but they remain unexcavated and we are left (presently) in the dark as to their nature.

Dargill stone, looking NW
Dargill stone, looking NW
Old drawing by Fred Coles
Old drawing by Fred Coles

The standing stone itself is a real beauty!  A huge fat fella, standing nearly eight feet tall, looking proudly across the field in all directions and gazing into the northern hills, where the wanderer’s eye naturally falls… In earlier years, the great megalithic explorer Fred Coles told of two other stones standing hereby—although they are not noted on the earliest OS-map of the area.  Nevertheless he wrote the following:

“This place-name deserves brief notice.  It is pronounced by persons in the locality as if it were spelt like the Irish name Dargle, having the stress on the first syllable.  The site is in a field between the main road from Crieff to Auchterarder and Dargill Island on the river Earn, at the height of 121 feet above sea-level…  There is here an indistinct mound, not now easily traceable, nor of any considerable height; but it is significant to have to report that up to 1909, when a new tenant entered the farm, two other great Stones were standing.  These were removed by the newcomer, much to the surprise and indignation (I was told) of the neighbours.  The remaining monolith is an unusually square and massive oblong block of schist, girthing over 16 feet, and standing clear of the ground 7 feet 8 inches in height.  Its eastern edge is rough and riven into long vertical hollows; but the other sides are, on the whole, smooth.  I append a view from the south-east.”

More recently the Dargill stone was described in Andy Finlayson’s (2010) excellent photo-history guide to the megaliths of the region.

Folklore

In recent years this great stone has received the attention of local ley hunter David Cowan, who dowsed here and found ‘earth energies.’ These are in fact water-lines: the primary dowsing response and not related to leys.

References:

  1. Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Cowan, David, Ley Lines and Earth Energies, Adventures Unlimited 2003.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  56.358998, -3.847970 Dargill stone

Giant’s Knowe, Culloch, Muthill, Perthshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NN 7848 1762

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24797
  2. Crock-nafion
  3. Fingalian’s Knowe

Archaeology & History

Landscape of the Giant's Knowe (image credit, Marion Woolley)
Landscape of the Giant’s Knowe (image credit, Marion Woolley)

Amidst the colourful and nurturing landscape close to the gigantic Dunruchan standing stones and just along the road from the solitary Craigneich stone, in the field across the road above Straid farmhouse could once be seen a fascinating-sounding prehistoric site that has sadly been destroyed.  Some of the remains of this old monument can be found in the field-clearance of stones just over the fence, above the top of the field (many fields round here have scatterings of large stone clearings at the field edges), but we have no detailed accounts of the site.  It was mentioned in early notes by the Ordnance Survey to have been,

“A large circular heap of small stone and gravel entirely removed in 1831. An urn filled with ashes and several stone coffins were found under it.”

The local historian John Shearer (1883) later told us that,

“A small mound of earth on the farm of Strayd, called Crock-nafion or the Giant’s Knowe, or the Fingalian’s Knowe, was cleared away several years ago.  An urn containing burnt bones was discovered.”

Any additional information about this site and its folklore, would be greatly appreciated.

Folklore

To the west along Glen Artney whence our view takes us from here, old legend told that the valley was once the abode of a great giant who lived in a cave in one of the mountains thereby.  In mythic lore, giants were the creation deities of hills, mountains and other geological forms, whose narratives were overturned and demonized by the incoming christian cult many centuries ago.  It is likely that this once great tomb was deemed as the burial-place of our local giant – which would make this prehistoric site neolithic in age. But — logical though it is — this idea is pure speculation…

References:

  1. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Philips: Crieff 1896.
  2. Shearer, John, Antiquities of Strathearn, David Philips: Crieff, 1883.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Giant's Knowe

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Giant\'s Knowe 56.335363, -3.967143 Giant\'s Knowe

Craigneich Farm, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone: OS Grid Reference – NN 79225 17870

Also Known as:

  1. Blar an Rodhar
  2. Blarinroar

Getting Here

Craigneich standing stone, looking west

From Comrie town centre take the road south across Dalginross Bridge over the river, heading towards Braco, up the winding B827 road for 2-3 miles until you reach a small crossroads (you can easily miss it, so watch out!). Turn left and, about a mile on, keep your eyes peeled – either for the standing stone in the field on your left, or the dirt-track to Craigneich Farm 100 yards further on.

Archaeology & History

…and again, looking east

This is a large standing stone in a truly beautiful setting.  More than six-feet tall, it stands amidst a gorgeous atmosphere just off the quiet roadside and has been all-but neglected by most archaeological surveys.  Thankfully it was one of the many impressive monoliths in this district that was described in one Fred Coles’ (1911) fine surveys.  Described in conjunction with the even more massive standing stones on the slopes to the south, he told:

“This Stone is one mile and a furlong SSE of the last, on the north side of the road between Straid and Shillinghill, at 514 feet above sea-level. The locality lies to the north of Aodan Mohr, which is the name given to the upper portion of Dunruchan. .. Its base is of an extremely irregular four-sided shape, having a jutting-out ledge on the south (see drawing). In basal girth it measures 15 feet 9 inches, and in height 6 feet 4 inches. The longest axis points N. 33° E.. by S. 33° W .”

Craigneich stone (Coles 1911)

Others may have once stood in close attendance, as the Chronicles of Strathearn (1896) tells how at Blarinroar (the name of the fields here) there were standing stones twenty feet tall! Cole thinks this to be an error based on the megaliths of Dunruchan, half-a-mile to the south. On the other side of the road from here, in the hedgerow, lies a fallen stone covered in ages of moss.

The now singular upright has been linked, albeit tentatively, to the Dunruchan megaliths as part of a possible stone row (Burl 1993; Thom 1990), but this seems very unlikely.

In Edward Peterson’s (1996) survey of Pictish monuments, he thought the Craigneich stone may have been important to the Seal tribe in ages gone by, as he says there are some Pictish carvings on the stone:

“The heads of two seals are relatively clear, positioned near the centre of this stone. Not so clear is the head of a cat at the top right hand corner, and to the immediate left is another seal head.  These are only a few of the animal heads appearing on this sea/seal-god standing stone.”

More antiquarian research is obviously required here.  It’s a truly superb spot!

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.
  5. Peterson, Edward, The Message of Scotland’s Symbol Stones, PCD Ruthven Books: Aberuthven 1996.
  6. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.337770, -3.955240 Craigneich stone