Torrnacloch, Dalbog, Edzell, Angus

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 5871 7189

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 35190

Archaeology & History

‘Site of’ stone circle, 1865

When the Ordnance Survey lads visited this area in 1860, they stood upon this small knoll that was known as Torrnacloch – or the Knoll of the Stone.  They were informed that a ring of stones had stood here, but had been destroyed about 1840, apparently by a local farmer.  The stones were described as being about 3 feet high.  They subsequently added it on the earliest OS-map of the area, but also made note that a cist was found within the site.  The circle was included and classed as a stone circle in Aubrey Burl’s (2000) magnum opus, but had previously been classed as a cairn with “a kerb of large boulders” by the Royal Commission doods. (1983)  They based their assessment on the appearance of some of the stones found on a gravel mound behind the farm which had apparently been removed from the circle when it was destroyed.  Andrew Jervise (1853) gave us the following account:

“The Chapelry of Dalbog was on the east side of the parish, due west of Neudos.  The time of its suppression is unknown; and though no vestige of any house remains, the site of the place of worship is still called the “chapel kirk shed” by old people, and, in the memory of an aged informant, a fine well and hamlet of houses graced the spot.  This field adjoins the hillock of Turnacloch, or “the knoll of stones,” which was probably so named, from being topped in old times by a so-called Druidical circle, the last of the boulders of which were only removed in 1840.  Some of them decorate a gravel mound behind the farm house; and, on levelling the knoll on which they stood, a small sepulchral chamber was discovered, about four feet below the surface. The sides, ends, and bottom, were built of round ordinary sized whinstones, cemented with clay, and the top composed of large rude flags.  It was situate on the sunny side of the knoll, within the range of the circle; but was so filled with gravel, that although carefully searched, no relics were found.”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  2. Jervise, Anrew, The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, Sutherland & Knox: Edinburgh 1853.
  3. MacLaren, A. et al, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Central Angus, RCAHMS: Edinburgh 1983.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks for use of the 1st edition OS-map in this site profile, Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.836629, -2.678338 Torrnacloch

St. Mary’s Well, Lethnot, Edzell, Angus

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference — NO 5425 6814

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 35005

Getting Here

General view of the site

Turn left in Kirkton of Menmuir towards Bridgend past the giant hillfort and rock art of White Caterthun, cross the Bridge of Lethnot, and continue to the holiday caravan park at Drumcairn, where you can park up.  Walk along the farm track on the south side of the caravan park and enter the field through the steel gate, and keep walking along the edge of the field  until you come to the spring below the old manse.

Archaeology and History

In the Ordnance Survey’s Name Book of 1857, the well is described as:

 ‘…a spring emitting from the foot of a natural bank. There is no built-up well about it.’

Andrew Jervise (1882) writes in his History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays,

…the Blessed Virgin was patron of Lethnot, and, during the incumbency of the late Mr Symers, several votive offerings, consisting of pieces of silver money, were found in the fountain near the church, which still bears the name of St.Mary’s Well…”

W.J Watson in his classic The Celtic Place Names of Scotland:

“..in Forfarshire is Navar, now Lethnot and Navar (the parish in which the Well stands)..the first part is doubtless nemed…”

Watson defines ‘nemed‘ as a derivative of nemeton – “a sacred place”, or “an institution originally pagan, taken over by the Church.”

C.P. Will, writes of the parish of Lethnot and Navar, in which the well stands:

Heifers drinking the holy waters
Site on the 1865 map

“..they record the existence here of an early settlement of the Celtic Christian church…Lethnot means Half-churchland, one portion of it, or as we might now say, one of two glebes…while Navar is Churchland-head, the top or extreme part of it, or Glebe-land. The two are complementary as to situation… Ultimately each had its parish church, the buildings being less than a mile apart and in full view one from the other, The “nemet” appearing in both names was a pagan shrine and, as such spots were commonly taken over by the Church on the advent of Christianity, the subsequent Gaelic neimheadh and neimhead came to mean a church site with the lands belonging to the church, latterly accepted as equivalent to glebe.”

On the day of my field visit, the field in which the spring flows was occupied by skittish cattle who spent their time drinking, so I didn’t get close up to it, but it appears that any housing to the spring has been removed.

Visible to the south are the hillforts of White and Brown Caterthun; and 1¾ miles south east of St Mary’s Well, on the southern slope of the Brown Caterthun is the site of the Hermitage Notre Domine Maria de Kilgery, while its sub chapel and adjoining Lady Well of Chapelton in Menmuir are 2¾ miles away to the south-east, which may suggest a pre-Christian ritual landscape dedicated to one of the Earth goddesses.

References:

  1. Jervise, Andrew,  The History and Traditions of the Land of The Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, David Douglas: Edinburgh 1882
  2. Jervise, Andrew, “Notices of the Localities of the Sculptured Stone Monuments at St Vigeans, Inchbrayoch, Pitmuies, and Menmuir, in Angus and of Fordoun in the Mearns – part IV,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, volume 2, 1855-56.
  3. Watson, William J., The History of the Celtic Place Names of Scotland, Birlinn: Edinburgh 2004.
  4. Will, C.P., Place Names of Northeast Angus, privately printed: Edzell 1963.

© Paul T. Hornby 2016, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.802533, -2.750667 St Mary\'s Well

Lady Well, Menmuir, Angus

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NO 5835 6623

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore 34976
  2. The Lady’s Well, Chapelton of Dunlappie
  3. The Ladywell, Chapelton of Dunlappie

Getting Here

Original position of Lady Well, near the gate

Travelling north along the minor Little Brechin to Reidhall road, take the left fork at the Drumchapel Estate Company sign towards Chapelton Farm, take a sharp left then right turn and the site of the well is through the green metal gate on the left of the road behind the cottage.

Archaeology and History

Andrew Jervise, in 1853 describing the ‘Hermitage of the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Forest of Kilgery’ quotes in his The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindseys:

“This old chaplainry stood in a field near the farmhouse of Chapelton of Dunlappie. The stones of the chapel were taken to build the farm-steading, and a fine spring, about a hundred and fifty yards south east of the site of the chapel, still bears the name of Ladywell, in honour of the Virgin.”

William Fraser, writing about the Chapel in 1867 wrote:

“The ruins of the Forest Chapel of the Virgin existed till lately in the vicinity of a fine spring, still known as the Lady’s Well.”

This chapel was subsidiary to the Hermitage Notre Domine Maria de Kilgery, situated almost 1½ miles due west on the southern slope of the Brown Caterthun hill-fort.

Lady Well on 1865 map

Lady Well now runs into a cistern in front of the gap

The Lady Well is shown on the 1868 Ordnance Survey map as being in the field, with the spring issuing at the roadside as a ‘spout’. Where the Lady Well stood, there is now just a lush patch of grass by the metal gates. On my field visit, I met the farmer, who was totally unaware that there had ever been a holy well. He said that a brick cistern with a wooden lid had been built on the site of the ‘spout’, and that the water was pumped from there to supply the adjoining cottage. He said the water flowed into the cistern from a pre-existing pipe, and never dried up, but he had no idea where the supply originated. So perhaps the flow from the spring was diverted from the site shown on the map when the ruins of the chapel were taken down.

There is now nothing to see above ground of the Chapel or the original Holy Well, and while the nineteenth century quotation above refers to the Well being at Chapelton of Dunlappie, it is now known as Chapelton of Menmuir.

References:

  1. Andrew Jervise, The History and Traditions of the Land of The Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, 2nd Edition, Edinburgh, David Douglas, 1882.
  2. William Fraser, History of The Carnegies, Earls of Southesk, and of Their Kindred,Volume One, Edinburgh, Privately Printed, 1867.
  3. Jervise, A, Notices of the Localities of the Sculptured Stone Monuments at St Vigeans, Inchbrayoch, Pitmuies, and Menmuir, in Angus, and of Fordoun in the Mearns. Part IV. (pp 458-66), Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 2, 1855-56.

© Paul T. Hornby 2016, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.785734, -2.683190 Lady Well

Witch Hillock, Marykirk, Kincardineshire

Tumulus & (possible) Stone Circle: OS Grid Reference – NO 64400 67323

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 36002
  2. Inglismaldie

Getting Here

The Wicth Hillock
The Witch Hillock

Travelling north on the Bridgemill to Fettercairn road, park at the layby just before the junction with the minor road (left) through the Forestry Commission’s Inverury Wood.  Go through the gate and walk along the track to the end where it joins another track and turn right. About 300 yards along, the Hillock is in a fenced enclosure to the right, accessible over a stile.

Archaeology & History

The site was not mentioned in the Statistical Accounts, nor is the origin of the name recalled, from which it is reasonable to assume that ‘witches’ (howsoever that term was interpreted in the days of persecution by the Kirk Sessions) met there. This is reinforced by there being a plot of land due west called ‘Witchfield’.  The Canmore report describes the mound as  being,

“situated near the edge of a low natural escarpment..measuring about 18m. in diameter and 2m. high.”

The Ordnance Survey reported in the mid-1860s that the Hillock was,

“An artificial mound….a remarkable looking object….enclosed with ornamental wire fencing, the name is well known in the district, but is not mentioned in the Statistical account nor any other document in the possession of the authorities. James Glenny, Gardener at Inglismaldie states that he assisted to open this, under directions from the Earl of Kintore, about Seven years ago, and that after clearing away the top soil there were found several stone coffins containing human bones and a clay urn containing what appeared to be calcined human bones….”

The site shown at the top of the 1865 6" OS Map.
The site shown at the top of the 1865 6″ OS Map.
The Hillock with 3 stones in the foreground
The Hillock with 3 stones in the foreground

Another remarkable feature of the Hillock enclosure is an arc of three large earth fast boulders to the north-west of the mound. It has the appearance of being an incomplete, possibly four poster circle. The stones are not listed by Aubrey Burl (2000) as being part of a circle, and if indeed it was a circle there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of the fourth stone, which would have been positioned nearest to the Hillock.  Unless the Hillock was imagined to be the ‘missing’ fourth stone.

Three stones - once part of a circle?
Three stones – once part of a circle?

A ‘well’ is shown on the modern OS map in the corner of the enclosure nearest the stile, but there was no evidence of this on the day of my visit.

Despite its rather remote location, it was noticeable by the well trodden state of the long grass on the day of my visit that the site receives quite a few visitors – a venue still for witches?

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, The Archaeological Sites & Monuments of South Kincardine, Kincardine and Deeside District, HMSO: Edinburgh 1982.

© Paul T. Hornby 2016 The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.796052, -2.584452 Witch Hillock tumulus