Spittal of Glenshee, Kirkmichael, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 10865 70201

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 29609

Getting Here

Spittal of Glenshee stone

Take to A93 road, north, between Blairgowrie and Braemar, keeping your eyes peeled many miles on, to turn left along the minor road as you approach the tiny Spittal of Glenshee hamlet. Just as you go over the ancient bridge, park up on your left, below the church.  Walk round the back of the church and you’ll see a large tree-covered mound.  Walk onto its top.

Archaeology & History

Stone marked on 1862 map

This quiet, almost hidden, six-foot tall standing stone on what initially seems to be a large fairy mound or tumulus at the back of the rude church, has been occluded from general view (in my opinion, deliberately) by the construction of the more debased christian edifice right in front of it.  But it detracts not from its gentle majesty once you reach its ancient body, atop of the old hill.

The stone is one in a cluster of prehistoric sites in and around this Glen of the Fairy Folk (as its name tells), where the rivers Shee and Beag converge.  If the church didn’t obstruct the view, some of the other sites would have been visible from here.

Folklore

The old stone, looking east

Folklore tells that when the christians came into the Glen to build a church—initially a half-mile or so to the east—the little people were much annoyed at the actions of the incomers, as it intruded on one of their sacred rings of stone close by.  By night they came out, and every stone that had been laid by the christians in the day was removed.  Each day the insensitive christians came and built their church without asking, and each night the little people removed it.  Eventually an agreement was made, and the fairies let them build the church next to this standing stone.  So goes the tale….

A veritable cluster of stories about Fingal, Ossian, Dermid and Grianne scatter this area, with many of them relating to ancient sites, but I’ve not found one directly relating to this stone.

References:

  1. Miller, T.D., Tales of a Highland Parish, Munro Press: Perth 1929.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Spittal of Glenshee stone

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Spittal of Glenshee stone 56.814728, -3.461654 Spittal of Glenshee stone

Borland, Blacklunans, Alyth, Perthshire

Standing Stone: OS Grid Reference – NO 15361 60677

Also Known as:

  1. Borland Stone
  2. Canmore ID 29401

Getting Here

The Borland Stone, looking NE

The Borland Stone, looking NE

From Blairgowrie, take the A93 north road, ensuring that when you reach the Bridge of Cally after 5½ miles (9km), you take the right-turn up Glenshee (the Valley of the Faerie folk) and not the A924 Strathardle road. After about 5 miles, turn right up the small lane to Blacklunans after, once you’ve weaved past the River Shee and started uphill, a few hundred yards on keep yer eyes peeled on the fields to your left. If you hit the Glenshee EcoCamp, you’ve gone too far.

Archaeology & History

Borland Stone, looking west

Borland Stone, looking west

This small, out-of-the-way standing stone is set amidst a small mass of rounded stones—as if once part of a cairn—at the top of a small hillock that can easily be passed by if your nose isn’t working properly.  Curiously isolated, the monolith seems more of an outlier to the Mount Blair hills immediately north and east; or perhaps the large settlement less than a mile south.

Very little seems to have been said about the stone, in literary terms at least.  The Royal Commission (1990) lads merely told us that,

“This stone, which stands on the summit of a prominent knoll 300m SE of Borland farmhouse, measures 0.7m by 0.3m at the base and 1m in height.”

Stone aligned NNE to Tom Bealaidh

Stone aligned NNE to Tom Bealaidh

Nowt else!  Although the stone was marked on the early 1900 OS-map, the small mass of loose stones at its base are more recently-worked than anything prehistoric and may simply be field clearance.  The monolith itself could do with assessment to positively ensure its prehistoric veracity.

References:

  1. Meikle, James, Places and Place-Names around Alyth, Alexander Gardner: Paisley 1925.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, North-East Perth: An Archaeological Landscape, HMSO: Edinburgh 1990.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.730052, -3.384886 Borland stone