Tombreck (15), Kenmore, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 64894 38308

Getting Here

Tombreck (15) carving

Along the A827 Loch Tay road between Morenish and Lawers, take the track uphill where Carie farmhouse and Tombreck are either side of the road. Walk up this track 2-300 yards till you go through the gate just past the sheep-folds on your left.  Ahead of you is a small grassy hillock on your right upon which you’ll find the unimpressive Tombreck-1 carving.  Walk down the grassy-slope to the boggy stream and then up the rounded knoll on the other side, where you’ll find a stone that’s been split in two.  You’re here!

Archaeology & History

This is another unrecorded carving, found amidst this already large petroglyphic cluster on August 9, 2020.  Carved on a stone that’s been spilt in half, three simple cup-marks can be seen on the larger easternmost section, with the lowest of them having a possible short line running towards the cup on the right.  It seems that the right-hand (north) side of the stone has also been cut, but there is no trace of this part of the stone on the ground.  Additionally, there is the possibility that this stone once stood upright, as evidenced by its very worn rounded top and the larger bottom end of the stone being distinctly lower compared to the ground all round it. But this is speculative.

The 3 cups, highlighted
3 cups on the lower stone

Although the rock is close to being on the top of a rounded knoll, giving good visibility both east and west for a few miles along the extensive grassy ridge (where many other petroglyphs exist), the grandeur of Loch Tay  in the glen below is not and could never have been visible from this, or indeed many other carvings on this ridge.  I mention this due to the fact that some students are positing that the existence of so many carvings along here may relate to some sort of deification of Loch Tay.  But here and at many others along this ridge, the idea simply aint valid, unfortunately.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.517351, -4.197451 Tombreck (15)

An Sithean, Lawers, Kenmore, Perthshire

Legendary Hill:  OS Grid Reference – NN 6806 3976

Getting Here

An Sithean on 1862 OS-map

Take the A827 road on the north-side of Loch Tay between Killin and Kenmore, and roughly halfway along you’ll find the tiny hamlet of Lawers.  Go down into the hamlet itself and, amidst the remains of the old trees where now are houses, nestled on a rise in the land with burns (streams) on either side, remains of the fairy mound of An Sithean still lives…

Folklore

Remnants of the legends of little people are legion in the Scottish mountains.  Sadly, many of them died when the English arrived and culled the population in ‘The Clearances’ of the 19th century – none moreso than in the area surrounding Loch Tay.  But thankfully, in the latter-half of the 19th century, a local man called James MacDiarmid (1910), took it upon himself to write down many of the old stories told by the remaining locals – as well as narrate those he remembered as a boy, as told by the elders around him.  Whilst tales of ‘fairies’ and other such creatures are thought by city-minds to be little other than fantasies, mountain-folk cosmologies differ greatly to those who are disconnected from the natural world.  Genius loci abound, and animism is the basic plinth integral to communities in the hills, where the world is much much more real.  This is one such tale…

“Not many years ago there lived in the neighbourhood of Killin a man who was in the habit of recounting his wonderful adventures with the white horse of the fairies.  When coming home one night from Kenmore market, and just as he was passing Sithean, Lawers, he heard most enchanting music proceeding from the knoll.  Unable to resist the temptation, he gradually went nearer and nearer the fairies’ place of abode, till at last he was fairly among them.  They received him most kindly, and on parting gave him one of their white horses to carry him home.  His steed went through the air at a speed almost equalling that of lightning, and in a few minutes he found himself above a house at Clifton, Tyndrum, some twenty-five miles westward from Lawers.  Happening to shout “ho!” when he was right above the chimney, the fairy horse threw him off its back, and down he dropped feet foremost through the wide, old-fashioned chimney, and alighted in the midst of a wedding party, much to their surprise and alarm. He continued in their pleasant company till daylight, when he returned home at his leisure, thanking the fairies for the pleasure they had so unexpectedly given him!”

Usually, tales such as this relate to the existence of prehistoric cairns or tumuli (burial sites), but no such archaeological remains have ever been known to live here.  Equally curious is how the man in this tale wasn’t kept in the timeless realms, beloved of faerie-land, where reveries with them would take decades from a man’s life, even though it only felt like one night.  This would imply

I’ve come across old locals who still speak, not just of the little-folk, but of other hauntings in this beautiful part of Loch Tay.  May the land not be cursed by the fools who put their idea of ‘development’ in front of the genius loci here; lest madness and ill-fortune will prevail…

References:

  1. MacDiarmid, James, “More Fragments of Breadalbane Folklore,” in Transactions of the Gaelic Society Inverness, volume 26, 1910.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

An Sithean

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An Sithean 56.531275, -4.146816 An Sithean

Carie, Kenmore, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 64772 38018

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 289028

Getting Here

Small standing stone, looking east
Small standing stone, looking east

Along the A827 Loch Tay road between Morenish and Lawers, keep your eyes peeled for the Carie farmhouse on the mountain-side (Tombreck is across the road).  The farmer here is very helpful and will let you walk up the land behind his abode if you ask. Go behind the trees at the back of the farm, following the small burn up for a coupla hundred yards till you see the stone in the long grasses on the right.

Archaeology & History

Carie Stone, looking south
Carie Stone, looking south

Nothing seems to have been written about this small standing stone, found close to the large cluster of cup-and-ring stones of Ben Lawers.  It sits alone in now-boggy ground, in a small dip of land near the stream above Carie Farm.  The stone is barely a foot thick, but stands 3½ feet tall and is more than 4 feet wide.  Its isolation is curious and makes it difficult to contextualize; but the stone is worth visiting if you’re exploring the rock art on the slopes above.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.514699, -4.199285 Carie

Machuim, Lawers, Loch Tay, Perthshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – NN 68201 40156

Also Known as:

  • Lawer’s Mill

Getting Here

From the north-end of Loch Tay at Kenmore, follow the road (A827) round down the lochside, through the village of Fearnan and then another 4 miles down.  If you park up at the pub at Lawers, walk back up the road for ½-mile, keeping your eyes peeled up the slope on the left where you’ll see the circle visible from the road.

Archaeology & History

Much has been said of this fine old place – also known as Lawer’s Mill – which seems to have been first described by Thomas Pennant in his rambling Tour in Scotland (1772).  The local writer William A. Gillies (1938) told that after

“a recent examination of the ground around the circle…suggests that at one time there was an outer circle of stones concentric with the existing one. Most of the stones were removed in order to make more of the field available for cultivation, but there are still large stones buried within a few inches of the surface.”

Folklore

In J. McDiarmid’s Folklore of Breadalbane (1910) he tells of a man from Killin who, on passing by this old circle, heard haunting fairy music.  Being inquisitive, he walked up to see what was going on and walked into the circle where the little people were playing.  He was obviously lucky and the faerie-folk enjoyed his company, for when he left he was given the gift of a strong, fast, white steed.

Solar folklore may be…?

References:

  1. Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Machuim circle

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Machuim circle 56.534862, -4.144667 Machuim circle