Goose Oaks, St. Fillans, Comrie, Perthshire

Legendary Trees (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NN 693 242

Folklore

A fascinating story of this forgotten site is detailed in Alex Porteous’ (1912) history book on this tiny parish at the eastern end of Loch Earn.  It’s a peculiar tale—and unless the story was little more than the local people ripping the piss out of the patronising incomers, its nature remains a mystery.  Porteous wrote:

“What were known as the Goose Oaks grew by the loch-side about two or three hundred yards west from the hotel.  The story is told of a celebrated goose which attained to the great age of 160 years and finally gave up this life in 1818.  It is solemnly averred by Mr (John) Brown that the history of this goose was well authenticated and that the families and individuals who successively were owners of the goose were highly respectable, and that its history was preserved entire for the period back to 1658, while he naively adds—”How long it was in being prior to that date is uncertain.”  The goose was buried at the spot indicated, and the oaks trees, two in number, of which only one remains now, planted over its grave; but the story, as regards the age, must be looked upon as apocryphal.”

One wonders what on Earth Sir James Frazer might have made of this tale!

References:

  1. Porteous, Alexander, Annals of St. Fillans, Crieff 1912.
  2. Porteous, Alexander, Forest Folklore, Mythology and Romance, George Allen: London 1928.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Goose Oaks

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Goose Oaks 56.392636, -4.120011 Goose Oaks

Clach na Ba, St Fillans, Comrie, Perthshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – NN 70318 24159

Clach na Ba, from roadside

Also Known as:

  1. Stone of the Cattle

Getting Here

Along the A85 road at the east-end of Lochearnhead, head out of the village east towards Comrie. Just above the main-road, maybe 50 yards after passing the small road to St Fillan’s Golf Club, on the north side of the road you’ll see a huge boulder resting in the edge of the garden of the large detached house that was known as The Oaks.  That’s the fella!

Archaeology & History

Clach na Ba, from the rear

Almost fallen out of history, oral tradition has thankfully kept the name and brief history of this huge boulder alive.  Found in association with the prehistoric standing stones just yards away, the Clach na Ba lives beside the ancient drover’s road (and probable prehistoric route before that) just yards east of the old cottage known as Casetta.  This occupies a site where an old toll-house stood, and the drovers would have to stop and pay a toll before continuing onwards past the Clach na Ba, or Stone of the Cattle.

Folklore

When the drovers passed their highland cattle here, the animals rubbed themselves against the stone to ensure good health and fertility (as well as just having a good scratch, no doubt).

References:

  1. Porteous, Alexander, Annals of St Fillans, David Philips: Crieff 1912.

Acknowledgements:  With huge thanks to Nina Harris and Paul Hornby for the day out and for use of their photos in this site-profile; and to the lovely couple (we didn’t get their names – soz) who live in the house behind the Clach na Ba, for their help with the fascinating local history .

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.391839, -4.102239 Clach na Ba

Druidsfield (03), Lochearnhead, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 58760 23087

The Druidsfield-3 carved stone
The Druidsfield-3 carved stone

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24126

Getting Here

Follow the same directions described to reach the Druidsfield 1 and 2 carvings.  This one is the larger upright block right next to them!

Archaeology & History

Several of the faint cups visible
Several of the faint cups visible

Contextually relevant to the two adjacent carvings, this is the largest of the three stones and comprises of a number of natural deep marks associated with between eight or ten man-made cup-markings.  They’re not all immediately apparent, but stand out more as and when natural lighting conditions change.  All of them are on the north and northwestern section of the stone, and measure between 1-3 inches across.  This is the least visually impressive of the stones in this petroglyph cluster.

Folklore

The carvings here were said by one of the locals to have been part of a “druid’s circle, which we played in as children, and were always told had been a special place of the druids in ancient times.”

References:

  1.  Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Haggart, D., “Notice of the discovery of a stone cup and cup-marked stones at Lochearnhead,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 22, 1888.

Acknowledgements – Huge thanks to Paul Hornby for help and use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  56.378886, -4.288790 Druidsfield (3)

Druidsfield (02), Lochearnhead, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 58759 23087

Also Known as:

  1. The Druidsfield 2 cup-marked stone
    The Druidsfield 2 stone

    Canmore ID 24126

Getting Here

Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the much overgrown, earthfast Druidsfield 01 carving. Adjacent is an upstanding block of large rock, right next to which is the flat surface of this Druidsfield 2 carving. If it’s overgrown, rummage around. You can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

This carving and its compatriots have almost been forgotten about it seems.  Buried beneath rolls of vegetation, this long flat rock covered in cup-markings seems to have played a part in some larger megalithic structure—but whatever it was is difficult to work out.  As you walk around the place it gives the distinct impression that some form of tomb was once in evidence, which may have been the case.  The Scottish archaeology giant Audrey Henshall is said to have found no evidence of a chambered tomb, but this may have been something smaller, less impressive.

When Mr Haggart (1888) wrote about this carving, he too thought that the carvings had been part of a tomb—this being the horizontal surface at the bottom.  He wrote that,

“the one forming the floor area of the dolmen being a square-shaped boulder of diorite, having fifty cups, varying from three and a half inches to an inch in diameter, the outlines of which look as fresh as if chiselled a year or two ago.”

The main cluster of cups
The main cluster of cups

This indicates it had only recently been uncovered.  There are lots of other archaeological remains scattered all round here, from different periods of history; but the other Druidsfield 1 and 3 carvings are found right next to each other, indicating this very spot was some site of neolithic or Bronze Age importance.  An accurate excavation of the site and the adjacent Druids Circle would be worthwhile.  I counted at least 44 cups on this rock when we visited last week, many of which are still quite clear.

The most recent Royal Commission (1979) briefing of the stone added nothing of relevance. They listed the site but it seems they never visited the place.

The portable bullaun-like deep-cut rock known as the Druid’s Stone is kept in private grounds nearby.  When members of Scottish heritage came to visit an adjacent site a few years ago, the lady of the house told how they walked right past it without giving it any notice. “They didn’t even see it under their noses,” she said.  Nowt new there!

Folklore

The carvings here were said by one of the locals to have been part of a “druid’s circle, which we played in as children, and were always told had been a special place of the druids in ancient times.”

References:

  1.  Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Haggart, D., “Notice of the discovery of a stone cup and cup-marked stones at Lochearnhead,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 22, 1888.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Stirling District, Central Region, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1979.

Acknowledgements – Huge thanks to Messr Paul Hornby for help and use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.378899, -4.288848 Druidsfield (2)

Druidsfield (01), Lochearnhead, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 58761 23087

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24126

Getting Here

Druidsfield Cup-Marked Stone
Druidsfield Cup-Marked Stone

From Lochearnhead village going south along the main A84 road to Callander or Stirling, take the very last road on the right just as you’re going out of the village, up o Craggan and park up by St. Angus’ Church. Walk back down onto the A84, turning right and walk along for 100 yards. Then go back up into a boggy field, where you’ll notice some walling above you. Head to the top right of this, up to the edge of a garden. Hereby is a cluster of rocks in a jumble. That’s your spot!

Archaeology & History

Cup-marks along the edge and bottom of the stone
Cup-marks along the edge and bottom of the stone

This takes a bit of finding in the undergrowth and is best checked out at the end of Winter.  Once overgrown it truly takes some finding.  But beneath the vegetation is a slender earthfast rock with a long ridge, a little bit like a spine, running from one end of the stone to the other.  Along this topmost spinal column we find a cluster of ten cup-markings, getting smaller in size the further along the spine we travel.  It’s a curious feature.  At the widest end of the rock where the widest and deepest cup-marks occur, another four cups have been etched into the northeastern sloping face below the largest cups.

When we came here, the sunlight was blocked by the surrounding trees, so we were unable to see if other elements had been carved onto the stone.  It is found in conjunction with two other rocks—Druidsfield 2 and 3 carvings—right next to each other, with designs of quite different visual structures, seemingly unconnected in any linear sense.  There also seemed to be a possibility that this was once part of a prehistoric tomb.  Later we found that both D. Haggart (1888) and Fred Coles (1911) had made similar comments, with Haggart specifically telling there to have been a collapsed tomb here in the 19th century.  He may have been right.  Extensive walled structures abound hereby−including one which old locals told us were remains of a Druid’s Circle, which we found close by.

Folklore

The carvings here were said by one of the locals to have been part of a “druid’s circle, which we played in as children, and were always told had been a special place of the druids in ancient times.”

References:

  1.  Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Haggart, D., “Notice of the discovery of a stone cup and cup-marked stones at Lochearnhead,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 22, 1888.

Acknowledgements – Huge thanks to Messr Paul Hornby for help and use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.378883, -4.288772 Druidsfield (1)