Loch Ardinning, Mugdock, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NS 56 77

Archaeology & History

The hidden Loch Ardinning stone

The hidden Loch Ardinning stone

This site-profile is one for the explorers amongst you.  It was last reported by the rock art author Ronald Morris (1981) who himself looked several times for this multiple-ringed carving, but never managed to find it.  The carving was rediscovered and described by the Glasgow archaeologist J. Harrison Maxwell, who took the only known photograph of the carving (reproduced here).  Sadly, he only left a short note about the site which read simply: “cups-and-rings to the west of Loch Ardinning.”

It seems probable that the carving would be in the area between the loch and the A81 road (between Strathblane and Bearsden) and not on the western side of the road—but we cannot be certain.  It may be hidden in the trees somewhere between the road and the lochside—which means that it’s probably completely overgrown by vegetation.  Morris (1981) described the carving as:

“a cup-and-four-rings, 2 cups-and-two-rings, and at least 4 cups-and-one-ring. Some rings are complete without radial groove and some are gapped with groove from the cup.”

If any explorers out there manage to unearth this lost carving, please give us a shout!


  1. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring and Similar Early Sculptures of Scotland; Part 2 – The Rest of Scotland except Kintyre,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 16, 1969.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties – part 2,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Echo Stone, Mugdock, Stirlingshire

Legendary Rock (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 5493 7710

Also known as:

  1. Historic Environment Record Stirling 3745

Echo Stone on 1865 Map

Echo Stone on 1865 Map

Archaeology & History

A recent communication to us from Alan McBride (2021), the historian for the Mugdock Country Park, has given us an accurate appraisal of this site which has, sadly, passed into the Realm of the Lost.  The following paragraphs are what Mr McBride has discovered in his personal exploration looking at the history of this once legendary stone.  He writes:

“As the name suggests, one would stand at, or on, the Echo Stone facing Mugdock Castle and upon shouting the voice would reverberate off the high walls of the castle and come back as a long clear echo.  It was a feature on Montrose’s estate, but when it came into existence is unknown.  Historical maps give an idea of when it disappeared though.  The Ordnance Survey map of 1860 shows the Echo Stone adjacent to Mugdock Castle in open ground (now woodland) close to the boundary of Mugdock Wood at the steep crag.  The Ordnance Survey map revision of 1896 shows the Echo Stone and in brackets (site of) and the area planted as woodland.

“Put into historical context, the map of 1860 was produced not long after Archibald McLellan’s tenancy at Mugdock Castle, at which point the old Georgian house was still standing. By the time the revised map of 1896 was produced, John Guthrie-Smith was the tenant of Mugdock Castle.  He was responsible for demolishing the old Georgian house and building the Victorian mansion in its place.  He was also responsible for the design and planting of many trees in the areas surrounding Mugdock Castle and Loch, one of these areas being where the Echo Stone was located.  It is believed by local historians that the stone, decorated with engravings, was either stolen during the time the castle and estate was vacant after McLellan’s death, that it was pushed over the crag into Mugdock Wood where it remains buried under vegetation, or that it was removed during the planting of the area by Guthrie-Smith.”

Of particular interest to myself (PB) is the mention of it being “decorated with engravings.”  My first response (obviously!) was that such carvings may be prehistoric.  A short distance east of here—and also lost—was the Loch Ardinning cup-and-ring stone, so our Echo Stone may have been a carved compatriot.  When I enquired about this, Mr McBride told me,

“Regarding the stone being decorated with engravings, this was a local historian who told me this many years ago. He had been told himself, when he was younger, that the Echo Stone would have been a feature seen from the castle and therefore had decorative features on it.  He has since passed away and it is the only reference I’ve had to it being decorative.  It would make sense though.”

An early literary record of the stone can be found in Hugh MacDonald’s (1854) work, in which he wrote:

“There is an echo of considerable local celebrity at Mugdock, the reverberative powers of which are frequently put to the test by visitors. The spot from which the echo is most distinctly heard is a slightly projecting rock, on a verdant declivity, about a hundred yards to the south of the castle. A person standing on this, looking towards the edifice, and speaking pretty loudly, will hear his words, or even short sentences uttered by him, repeated with startling distinctness, as if from some mimic at the old tower. Of course, we give the echo sundry specimens of our vocality, and to its credit we must say that it flings them back with amazing fidelity. Paddy Blake’s echo, which on the question being put to it of ‘How are you?’ invariably answered ‘Pretty well, I thank you!’ was unmistakeably a native of the land of Bulls. The Mugdock one must be as decidedly Scottish, as it answers each question put to it by asking another. If there were any doubt on this subject, however, we might mention, in support of our supposition, that it is quite au fait at the Gaelic, as we proved to the entire satisfaction of a cannie bystander, who, after listening in silence for some time to our mutual interrogations in that classic tongue, at length exclaimed, ‘Od, man, that’s curious! Wha wad hae thocht that a Lawlan’ echo could hae jabbered Gaelic?'”

Samuel Lewis, writing before 1846, told us that,

“At a distance of about 300 yards from this castle is a remarkable echo, which distinctly reverberates a sentence of six monosyllables, if uttered in a loud tone; and this not till a few seconds after the sentence is completed”.

We can only speculate as to how people in distant times reacted to this echo, and it is interesting how MacDonald’s Gaelic-speaking friend reacted, almost as if he believed it to be a living organism which he did not expect to reply in his own language.


  1. McBride, Alan, Personal Communication, April 15, 2021
  2. MacDonald, Hugh, Rambles Round Glasgow, Descriptive, Historical & Traditional, John Smith & Son: Glasgow 1854 & 1910.
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland – 2 volumes, S Lewis & Co.: London 1846


  1. Mugdock Country Park

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Alan McBride for the revisions and corrections regarding this site profile.

© Paul Bennett, Paul T. Hornby & Alan McBride, The Northern Antiquarian 2016

Craigenkirn, New Kilpatrick, Dumbartonshire

Long Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NS 51839 78157  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

Aerial view of the cairn

Aerial view of the cairn

Take the A809 road several miles north out of Glasgow, between Bearsden and Drymen.  Once out of the suburban sprawl, passing Milngavie, you’re heading to the famous Carbeth hutters.  Before this, note the gold course on your right (east).  Park here and cross the road where a gate and overgrown footpath takes you onto the grassy hills.  Keep to the fence-side for about 700 yards until it veers downhill.  Don’t walk downhill!  Keep in the same direction into the short grasses and, veering gradually left, downhill for a couple hundred yards ahead and, across a small boggy area, you’ll note some large upright stones in front of a mound.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

The SE stone 'entrance'

The SE stone ‘entrance’

There is no previous reference to this site which was found, quite fortuitously, by Nina Harris of Organic Scotland a few years ago.  She visited the site a number of times, puzzling over the curious line of possible standing stones at the edge the grass-covered mound—wondering if it was anything at all.  A few months ago she took us to see the place…

Modern gunshot cup-marks on entrance stone

Modern gunshot cup-marks on entrance stone

The site has been damaged and elements of it have been stripped for walling that are visible all around here.  The cairn is more than 55 yards in length, running from its southeastern stone ‘entrance’ to the gradually diminishing northwestern edges.  At its widest it is 14.6 yards (13.5m) across, near its southeastern end.  The main three standing stones at its entrance are four-feet tall at the highest, with one of them leaning upon another; an adjacent fourth stone, smaller than the main three, is more embedded into the cairn mass a couple of yards away.  Cup-marks on one of the three larger uprights here are recent gunshot marks; whilst the possible cup-marks on the largest upright are natural.

Line of ealling runs to the cairn

Line of ancient wall runs up and over the cairn

Looking NW along the cairn mass

Looking NW along the cairn mass

In standing on top of the long cairn, just above the large stones, you can see how sections of it have been stripped away.  Just beneath the surface is a line of internal walling, with what seems to be another one running parallel.  These run for a few yards until we reach a large circular depression within the overall cairn mass, a yard deep and 6-7 yards across; on the northern edge of which we can clearly see a section of walling beneath the surface.  When we look at the aerial view of this on Google Earth, we can clearly see how this walling actually begins way outside of the cairn mass itself, as a much denuded line of it (probably medieval in origin, though possibly Iron Age) curves across the grasslands from the west, crosses the long cairn and re-emerges on the other side of the adjacent boggy ground at its southeastern edges and continues on its way: indicating that the cairn mass beneath the wall is much older than the walls running across it.

"X" marks the spot!

“X” marks the spot!

The main three 'entrance' stones

The main three ‘entrance’ stones

Audrey Henshall (1972) described the existence of another prehistoric chambered tomb like this one at Cairnhowit 1.95 miles (3.14km) southwest, and we find the Stockie Muir long cairn 3.12 miles (5.02km) to the northwest, clearly showing that the incidence of this monument is not an isolated one.  Others can be found not much further away.  The existence of the raised geological plate known as Carneddans Wood just over a mile south may have once been home to another chambered cairn.

Please note that the grid reference for this site fixes on the southeastern section of the cairn, where the upright stones are.


  1. Henshall, Audrey S., The Chambered Tombs of Scotland – volume 2, Edinburgh University Press 1972.

Acknowledgements:  First and foremost to Nina Harris, for unknowingly finding the place; also to Paul Hornby and Marion Woolley for visits to the site.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian