Cup-Marked Stone (lost): OS Grid Reference – NO 003 650
Archaeology & History
When you’ve visited the impressive cup-marked stone at Dalnavaid, this long lost carving might be worth seeking out by the real explorers among you. It’s not been seen for a hundred years and was only reported in brief by the reputable local historian Hugh Mitchell (1923). It’s located a mile north of the Dalnavaid carving, up in the hills on the other side of the road, “on the East side of Clunskea Burn, and on the West shoulder of Ben Skievie.” He described the carving as “having some 16 or 18 cups, and at present it forms part of a grouse butt.”
So if we locate the grouse-butt (they’re usually not too difficult to find), the carving will obviously follow. Mitchell gave us an extra piece of info regarding its location. He described the existence of several other seemingly prehistoric remains within a few yards of the grouse-butt, curious “pit dwellings”, three of them:
“they are of circular shape, about 9 feet in diameter and nearly 5 feet below the surface of the ground, and had evidently been roofed over at one time. The entrance to each is at the lowest level and acts as a drain, to keep the house dry. They are almost the only examples in the district of neolithic dwellings.”
Let us know if you find it!
Mitchell, Hugh, Pitlochry District: Its Topography, Archaeology and History, L. Mackay: Pitlochry 1923.
The quickest and easiest route is to take the A924 road from Pitlochry to Kirkmichael. It’s a gorgeous route in itself! Anyhoo… Once you’re out past the houses of Pitlochry and Moulin, you begin to make the real ascent up the winding road, past the hairpin bend and, 5 miles up where the road has levelled out and the craggy moorlands surround you, green fields begin to appear on your left. The first farm on your left is Dalnacarn and less than a half-mile past here, on your right, a small track takes you to Dalnavaid house. Walk along here, past the house and into the field, then the next field where a section rises up towards the fencing. On top of this are several rocks. You can’t really miss it!
Archaeology & History
This typically female rounded rock has, unusually, a series of cups in almost three rows along its easternmost slope, with one or two single cups on its top and southern side. It was first described by Fred Cole (1908) merely as “a small boulder, with a remarkable triple row of cup-marks, resting on a cairn-like mound”; but it wasn’t until John Dixon (1921) came here that a full description appeared. He told us,
“About 200 yards due east of (Dalnavaid) house a ridge or spit of land juts out from the adjoining hillside on to an almost level field. The ridge has sloping sides, and the nearly flat top is 10 or 12 feet above the general surface of the field. Near the end of the ridge stands the cup-marked stone… The dimensions of the stone are: length 4 feet 8 inches; width 3 feet; height from 1 foot 11 inches to 2 feet 4 inches. The cups are all near the north-east side of the upper surface of the stone, and are more or less in rows. Some are large, with a diameter of 3 inches and a depth of nearly 1 inch; others are much weathered, and vary from small, scarcely measurable, hollows, to cups 2 inches in diameter and ½ inch deep. The hollows are no doubt cups almost obliterated by ages of weathering. Reckoning them so, there are in all thirty or thirty-one cups. All are of the plain type, without rings or connecting grooves.”
A few years later Mitchell (1923) counted 26 cups on it. Along the western side of the stone are two natural cracks that run across it roughly north-south. It wasn’t until I crouched down to look at what seemed to be another cup on its vertical face that I noticed how these lines appeared to have been enhanced by human hands.
For petroglyph enthusiasts, this is a decent carving well worth the visit. What looks to be a cup-and-ring design is found on a stone due south of here and, in all probability, others are hiding away nearby—the “lost” cup-marked stone of the Clunskea Burn, a mile north of here, being one such place. Let us know if y’ find it!
Make a day out of this one, visiting several old places on the way. From Comrie take the B827 road to Braco, turning right at the tiny Glen Artney road a half-mile along (easy to miss). 3 miles along, pass the derelict Dalness cottage, you can follow the directions to get to the Mailer Fuar (2) cup-and-ring stone; and from here go up the field past the Mailer Fuar (1) carving, through the gate and follow the fence to your right. Keep going till your reach the Allt na Drochaide cup-and-ring stone. From here you’re heading (south) towards the rounded crags of Cnoc Brannan. It’s boggy as fuck in parts so cautiously zigzag through this section up towards the small grassy rise about 350 yards from the cup-and-ring stone. You’ll find it!
Archaeology & History
On one of the gentle rises below the northern slope of Cnoc Brannan we find this sturdy old fella, 3-4 feet tall (I didn’t measure it), looking across the stunning landscapes north, east and west along Glen Artney. Not previously recorded and seemingly isolated from other prehistoric remains, he looks all alone at first sight, but laid down in the grassy rushes (Juncus conglomeratus) to his side, is a slender seven-foot long stone which may have stood upright in the not-too-distant past, giving us another double stone setting in this area (at least two others existed in this area—the closest being at Craggish, 3.7 miles northeast). I have little doubt that other undiscovered prehistoric remains are hiding in the area. (there are a number of single cup-marked stones in the locale, although I tend to leave such examples off the catalogues as they can be somewhat dubious [and many are]. I mention this just in case any rock art students want to forage the area.)
From Comrie take the B827 road to Braco and less than a mile out of town take the tiny Glen Artney road on your right. Past the derelict Dalness cottage 3 miles on, a half-mile further, there’s a gated road veering downhill on your right. Park in the small parking-spot at the left. Walk along 100 yards to the gate on your left and walk up the old path which bends back on itself before leveling out. As it does so, just where the Mailer Fuar (2) carving lives, head uphill to the derelict house and, before reaching the fence, check out the several isolated stones on your right. You’ll find it!
Archaeology & History
This is nowt special to look at and, as I always tend to say with carvings such as this, it’s probably only gonna be of interest to the petroglyphic puritans amongst you. It was described by George Currie (2006) as possessing just one cup-mark, but there are in fact at least three of them on this sloping rock face, possibly four. One of them may—may—have a half-ring around it, but this is very hard to see and might be little more than a trick of the light and just a forlorn hope of something better… It’s worth a brief look before you venture further uphill to the much more impressive Allt na Drochaide carving.
From Comrie take the B827 road to Braco and less than a mile out of town keep your eyes peeled for the tiny Glen Artney road on your right. Past the derelict Dalness cottage 3 miles on, a half-mile further, just where you hit a track-road veering downhill on your right, you need to park up in the small parking-spot on your left. Walk along the road 100 yards, keeping your eyes peeled again for the gate set back on your left (easy to miss!); go thru here, walk up the old path which bends back on itself before leveling out and, as it does, two or three small boulders lie just off the pathway on your right, one with its own petroglyph.
Archaeology & History
There are cups, rings and lines on this old stone, with the lines in particular being somewhat troublesome when it comes to working out their origin: some are natural, some made by modern farming implements (about a hundred years back), and some that were carved thousands of years ago—and it’s not that easy to work out which is which. You’ll be able to see what I mean by looking at the photos.
Rediscovered, it would seem, by M.D. King in 1991, he described it plainly as a simple
“recumbent cup-marked stone 1900mm by 1200mm by 300mm…found in a stone dyke running down the hill from the deserted farm of Mailer Fuar. The stone may have been moved down from its original position for inclusion in the now ruinous stone dyke. Fourteen cup-marks were visible on the stone.”
But there’s much more to it than that! There are rings around the cups for starters. Four of them. Two cup-and-rings next to each other at the southeast portion of the stone are just about complete, as you can see (right); the various lines that run either side and into them seem to be a mix of early and more recent scratches—although I think we’re best asking a petromorphologist to tell us which is which! We have a similar problem for another cup-and-ring near the centre of the stone, for it has two lines going right through its centre: one of them running almost the full north-south length of the stone giving the impression it was carved a long time back, yet looking much less ancient when it comes to its form and erosion; whilst the other line—almost at right-angles to the first—has a decidedly more archaic worn appearance.
One of the more assured “ancient” carved lines is on the eastern section of the stone. (left) It’s an odd looking thing, not very clear on the photo, comprising an elongated curved line, with a fork at the bottom, almost like short legs on an elongated stick-man like the ones we drew as kids. The long line seems to eventually curve over and into one of the cup-marks. Adjacent to the bottom of this forked curve is a cup and faint incomplete ring with a faint line running out of its centre to a smaller faint cup to its west. You can see this reasonably well in the lower photo (right)
The carving needs a lot of attention if we’re to work out its original design, as the photos show. Even the millionaire computer-tech work of the Scottish rock art club didn’t really suss out the differences regarding chronological elements in this carving (I don’t think they even mentioned it), which shows how difficult some of these buggers can be! Personally, I’d love to see the impression of some good artists at this stone when the light’s just right and see what their mind’s eye brings to the fore.
After all this I’ve not even mentioned its position in the landscape. Go check it out and see for y’selves. It’s a bittova beauty!
Were it not for the valuable records in the Scottish Statistical Accounts, we’d have lost all knowledge of this site. It was described in notes by by Colin Baxter (1793), where he told us:
“About 200 yards west from the church of Monivaird, a barrow was opened some years ago, in which two urns were found, each containing a stone of a bluish colour, very hard about four inches long, and of a triangular shape, somewhat resembling the head of an axe.”
The site was subsequently mentioned in the Ordnance Survey Name Book of the parish, with some additional bits of information:
“In the year 17–, there was found, about one hundred yards to the westward of the old church of Monzievaird, a barrow containing a stone-coffin, in which were inclosed two coarse earthen urns, the one filled with burnt bones, the other containing the bones of the head. Of these, the under jawbone and the teeth were very entire. In the stone coffin was also found a stone hatchet, bluish-coloured, very hard, about four inches long, and of a triangular shape, a remain which proves the barrow of very remote antiquity – prior to the use of iron. The stone hatchet is preserved at Ochtertyre.”
No traces remain of the site; and although the stone axes came to be in the possession of Sir William Murray of Ochtertyre, the urns and other remains have long since been lost.
The name of ‘St Serf’s Water’ derives from it this area being dedicated to St Servanus in early times; the holy well of St Serf could be found a short distance south from where this tomb was built.
Baxter, Colin, “United Parishes of Monivaird and Strowan,” in Statistical Account of Scotland – volume 8, William Creech: Edinburgh 1793.
Tale the A85 road between Comrie and Crieff and, roughly halfway between the two towns, take the minor road south to Strowan (it’s easily missed, so be aware!). A few hundred yards along, stop where the trees begin and walk into the fields immediately east. Keep walking, below the line of the trees, and you’ll get to it within five minutes.
Archaeology & History
Samson’s Stone, looking east
Mistakenly cited by some as a standing stone, the large boulder which rests here on the hillside just below the woodland is a glacial erratic. Highlighted on the 1866 OS-map of the region, I hoped that we might find some rock art on the stone, but cup-and-rings there were none. However, there is a curious ‘footprint’ on top of it, similar to the ones found at Dunnad, at Murlaganmore and other places (see Bord 2004); but I can find no previous reference to this carved footprint.
‘Footprint’ on top of stone
In 1863 the site was described in the local Name Book, where it was reported to be “a large oblong shaped stone lying on the surface, eight feet long, four wide, and three thick”; but, much like today, it was also reported that “There is no tradition respecting it in the neighbourhood. Supposed to have received the name in consequence of its great size.”
Bord, Janet, Footprints in Stone, Heart of Albion Press 2004.
Take the A85 road between Comrie and Crieff. Nearly 1.7 miles (2.7km) east out of Comrie—or 4 miles (6.44km) west out of Crieff—keep your eyes peeled on the fields to the south-side of the road, below and across the mansion of Lawers House. Alongside a long but small plantation of trees you’ll see a large upright stone. You can walk along the track adjacent to the field and through the gate.
Archaeology & History
The stone on 1886 OS-map
Shown on the early Ordnance Survey maps of the area, this probably neolithic monolith was suggested by Fred Coles (1911) to have once been part of a larger megalithic circle—although Aubrey Burl (2000) didn’t consider it as a good enough contender to be listed as such in his gazetteer; and unless we can have some positive affirmation, either through folklore or excavation, we should maintain its status as a singular monolith. There is the possibility that it stood as an outlier or had some relationship with a nearby prehistoric tomb—but even this is contentious. Nevertheless, the stone itself is an impressive one!
Mr Coles curiously got the size of the old stone wrong too (although, we have to give him credit, as he did all of his work without electricity or any of our modern ‘stuff’). He wrote that:
“This massive boulder of whinstone is rounded at the base, where it girths 10 feet 3 inches, but tapers upwards to its apex of 5 feet 10 inches, with the eastern edge somewhat jagged and broken. Near its base on the west is a small slab-like fragment of stone, quite earthfast. The north and south surfaces are smooth and nearly vertical, and the longer axis is ESE 75º by WNW 75º.”
Fred Coles’ 1911 sketch
Lawers monolith, looking SE
The stone is actually larger than Coles described, being more than 6 feet 6 inches tall. His sketch (right) “shows the stone from the east”, and is pretty much as we find it today. A notable crack in the stone along the southern face, about a third of the way up, suggests that the stone was broken at some time in the past.
Local architect Andrew Finlayson (2010) included the stone in his local megalith guide and noted how the axes of the stone, east-west, lines it up with Ben Halton to the west and The Knock to the east.
Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
If you’re coming southwest out of Crieff on the A822, as you cross the river take the right-turn just before leaving the town along the country lane onto Strowan and Dalginross. Nearly 2½ miles along there’s the small junction on your right to Strowan House and church. Just past this turning, the next field on by the roadside, has a large rounded tree-covered mound living quietly. That’s the fella!
Archaeology & Folklore
Found halfway between Crieff and Comrie in the field on the north-side of the road, this large oak-covered tumulus was, seemingly, first described in notes made by the old archaeologist O.G.S. Crawford following a quick visit he made here in 1936. The place has, since then, never been excavated to find out exactly what might be hiding therein! It’s quite a big fella too: about 10 feet high and 40 yards across (east-west)—similar in size and design to the prehistoric burial mounds at Tulloch and Kinpurnie. Some large rocks make up the sides and edges of the mound, with smaller ones scattered here and there, giving the distinct impression of a very overgrown cairn of sorts.
Tis a quiet and tranquil arena, amidst fervent colours of meadows and old trees. Another 2 miles further down the same road is the equally tranquil (though ruined) megalithic ring of Dunmoid…
Standing Stones (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NN 7643 2086
Archaeology & History
Highlighted on the 1866 OS-map was an impressive cluster of standing stones that sadly met their demise sometime around at the end of the 19th century. They were mentioned to “still exist” when the local writer Samuel Carment passed them in 1882, but had been destroyed by the time the Ordnance Survey lads resurveyed here in 1899. Altogether there were at least six of them, standing aligned sharply northeast-southwest and were described in one of Fred Coles’ (1911) essays, who lamented their passing. Listed in the stone row surveys by Burl (1993) and Thom (1990), the prime description we have of them was by Cole himself, who told:
“This site has also been wantonly bereft of its group of megaliths. Up to so recent a date as 1891 there were several. These were shown on the (Ordnance Survey map) as three in one line and two in another, on a field about one furlong NE of Craggish farmhouse, close to the road coming down from Ross, and nearly a quarter-mile NW of the ford across the Ruchil at Ruchilside.”
In Finlayson’s (2010) colourful survey of the local megaliths he told that the stones,
“Stood, by the road, in what is now ‘The Whinney Strip’: a boulder-strewn strip of land 20m wide dividing up otherwise flat and even grazing land.”
Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.