Drumend, Easter Rattray, Perthshire

Stone Circle (ruins):  OS Grid Reference – NO 20175 45825

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 30760
  2. Old Rattray

The survivor from the South

Getting Here

Just less than a mile east of Blairgowrie, the site is situated about 200 yards along a farm track that runs north from the A926 Rattray – Alyth Road.  This road is narrow with a lot of bends and very busy, with no safe parking places. It is best to walk from Rattray, the stone will be seen in the field just east of Drumend Farm.

Archaeology & History

Site on 1867 OS-map

There is one stone here that survives from a megalithic ring that was progressively destroyed some time between the publication of the 1792 Old Statistical Account and the publication of the 1867 OS map.  Reverend James Smith, writing in the 1792 Statistical Account, told us:

“Above the river, SE from the village, in a beautiful situation, is a Druidical temple, much defaced, and many of the stones carried off. The farm upon which it has been built, is called Standing Stones.”

Reverend William Herdman wrote patronisingly in the 1845 New Statistical Account;-

“If large graystones be entitled to the appellation of antiquities, or are any indication of the religious worship of our ancestors, a few of these appear in a field, thence called Standing Stanes, which are supposed to be the ruins of a Druidical Temple.”

Close up from the south

Many years later, in the first few years of the 20th century, the great northern antiquarian and megalith writer, Fred Coles, visited the site and gave this description in 1909:

“Standing Stone on the Farm of Standing Stone, Old Rattray.  [A] monolith attracts our notice, in a field on the north of the main road, one mile and a quarter east of the middle of Old Rattray village. The height above sea-level is 270 feet. This monolith …[has a] mineralogical composition …more analogous to the quartziferous schists so frequently found in the vicinity.

The top is smooth, with an inclination towards the south-east, and the whole mass is squarish and pillar-like. It is set up with the longer axis N.E. 50° and S.W. 50°. The highest point is 5 feet 1 inch above ground, the basal girth 8 feet, but rather more than mid-way up it increases to 10 feet 4 inches.

In this lower-lying district, comprising an area of about 35 square miles, the megalithic remains are extremely sparse. Agricultural operations, doubtless, have swept away some monoliths, and possibly also whole circles of stones; but at any rate it is somewhat significant that only four Standing Stones are now left, and that there is no record on the maps of any other variety of sepulchral structure.”

This brave survivor has a commanding position over the valley of the River Ericht, and again we can only lament the loss of its companions, but be thankful it too didn’t fall prey to ‘agricultural improvements’ or religious bigotry.

References:

  1. Smith, Rev.James, Old Statistical Account, Perthshire, Parish of Rattray, 1792. #
  2. Herdman, Rev. William, New Statistical Account, Perthshire, Parish of Rattray, 1845.
  3. Coles F.R., ‘Report on stone circles surveyed in Perthshire (South-East District), with measured plans and drawings; obtained under the Gunning Fellowship’, Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., vol. 43, 1908-9.

© Paul T. Hornby, 2019

Drumend stone

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Drumend stone 56.597504, -3.301617 Drumend stone

Chapel Well, Berryhill, Bankfoot, Perthshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 02179 34749

Also Known as:

  1. Beltane Well
  2. Canmore ID 27045

Getting Here

Note the position of the Well vis-a-vis the wall and the burn.

I accessed the site by parking up at Little Tullybelton, walking up the hill and crossing into the field on the left just north of the wood, then walking due west (crossing barbed wire fences) until dropping down into the valley of the Ordie Burn and following the track into the wood, then, noting where the burn crosses south of the old stone wall. The site of the well is marked by some tussocks of cotton grass. Don’t confuse with a patch of nettles and docks 2-300 hundred yards east where you enter the wood.

Archaeology & History

All that remains is a clump of Cotton Grass.

This well was destroyed about 170 years ago and the site of it is quite hard to find as the land has been turned over to forestry. It was near a chapel and burial ground that were also destroyed by the farmer of the time. The old wall formed part of the boundary of the detached portion or enclave of the neighbouring parish of Methven.

The Reverend Thomas Nelson, Minister of the Parish of Auchtergaven, has this to say in the New Statistical Account of 1845;

Superstition formerly invested St Bryde’s, and Chapel Well, and perhaps some others, with a sacred character, and made then places of resort for pious purposes.

‘On the south march of Berryhill Farm, in the same lands of Tullybeagles, there is the site of.. a chapel, where there was a burying-place, where human bones have been recently dug up; and, till of late, the people in the neighbourhood used, on the first Sabbath of May, to drink out of the Holy Well there. This sacred place is on the banks of the Ordie.’

The OS Name Book has the following entry regarding the Well:

The site of a Holy Well which has been traditionally associated with the adjacent chapel. The water of this well is now carried by a covered drain into the adjacent stream, and the well filled in‘.

And this regarding the Chapel:

Part of the ancient roadway to the Well and Chapel

The site of an ancient chapel on the north bank of the Ordie Burn, the chapel was demolished and the graveyard rooted up some years ago by the present tenant of the farm, who has pointed out the site, the dedicatory name is not known‘.

I could find no evidence of the culvert which discharges the waters of the Well into the Burn. What does seem to have been missed is the survival of part of the ancient sunken roadway or pilgrim path to the site, which is still clearly visible.
The fact that it was visited by locals on the first Sabbath in May would point to it having originally been a Beltane well, and therefore of pre-Christian origin.

References:

  1. The New Statistical Account for Auchtergaven, Perthshire, 1845
  2. Ordnance Survey Name Books for Perthshire, 1859-6

© Paul T Hornby 2018

 

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  56.494602, -3.590394 Chapel Well