Peekie Stone, Boarhills, St Andrews, Fife

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 55252 13352

Also Known as:

  1. Boarhills Stone

Getting Here

Site on the 1896 map

Take the A917 road southeast out of St Andrews, heading towards the hamlet of Boarhills about 4 miles away.  However, about a half-mile before you get to Boarhills, keep your eyes peeled for a small minor road on your right, signposted to Dunino, 3 miles.  Go along here for about 350 yards where you’ll reach a track cutting across the road.  Walk up the gently sloping field here on your right and you’ll see, 400 yards from the road whence you’ve parked, a tall thin upright stone standing alone…

Archaeology & History

Highlighted on the 1893 and 1896 OS-maps (as merely a “Stone”), this tall and incredibly skinny standing stone has seen better days.  After many-a-millenia, the god of storms cut the stone to the ground not too many years ago, leaving it broken in the middle o’ the field where once it stood.  Thankfully however, local folk ensured that it was eventually resurrected and fixed into position once more, albeit in a somewhat ugly cage—or corset as Mr Hornby called it!

The Royal Commission (1933) lads checked the stone out for inclusion in one of their damn good surveys, they told us the following:

“About midway between the farms of Polduff and Peekie, and on the south side of the Anstruther and St Andrews Railway, 200 feet above sea level, there is a fine block of red sandstone, which rises to a height of just over 9 above ground.  It averages 4¼ inches in thickness and measures 2 feet 4 inches wide across the broad faces.  The stone has been set up with the major axis north-east and south-west and has been well packed round the base with smaller stones.”

Interestingly—to me anyhow—when the monolith was recently stood back in its upright position, the archaeo’s found a spring of water beneath it.  Many dowsers (and I don’t mean the ones who fallaciously reckon they’re finding ‘energy lines’ all over the place) have found the crossing of underwater streams and water sources to be a common feature beneath megalithic sites.

Folklore

In Richard Batchelor’s (1997) short work on the ancient sites of this area, he calls attention to what a Mr N. Dow thought was a ley-line passing from the cairn on top of Kellie Hill 4¾ miles (7.64km) away, northeast to the Peekie Stone, and which Mr Batchelor points out is close to the major lunar standstill.

References:

  1. Batchelor, Richard A., Origin of St Andrews, Shieling: St Andrews 1997.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the Counties of Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Paul Hornby for use of his photos.

© Paul BennettThe 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.

Folklore

Locally, there are several places alleged to have been the actual spot where the circle once stood; but several of the stones within Dunino church have typical Masonic marks etched onto them and which, local folklore tells, identifies the standing stones that were once in the circle and which were then built into the church.  Also in the churchyard is a small carved upright stone, which local people visit and leave offerings upon.

References:

  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