St. Patrick’s Well, Dunruchan, Muthill, Perthshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NN 77905 17365

Getting Here

St Patricks Well on 1863 map

Take the B827 road between Comrie and Braco. If you’re coming via Comrie, going uphill for 3.1 miles (5.1km); but if from Braco Roman Camp go along and eventually downhill for 6.6 miles (10.6km), watching out for the track to Middleton Farm by the roadside.  Walk along for 125 yards, keeping your eyes peeled for the boggy ground below on your left. You’re there!

Archaeology & History

Immediately east of the prodigious megalithic complex of Dunruchan, bubbling up amidst the usual Juncus conglomeratus reeds, are the boggy remnants of St. Patrick’s Well—one of two such sacred wells dedicated to the early Irish saint in Muthill parish. We’re at a loss as to why this Irish dood has such sites in his name in this area.  No doubt some transitional shamanic character was doing the rounds in this glorious landscape, muttering words of some neo-christian animism, eventually settling a mile from the great megalithic complex, perhaps hoping—and failing—to convert our healthy heathen populace into ways unwise.

The site of St Patricks Well

The shallow boggy waters

Whatever he may have been up to, a small stone chapel was built hereby and, it was said, even a christian graveyard, to tempt folk away from the ancient plain of cairns whence our ancestors had long since buried their dead.  But the christian’s chapel and graveyard has long since gone; and when historians before me had visited the place, St Patrick’s Well had also fallen back to Earth in the drier summers, taking the blood of the Earth back into Her body.  The heathen megaliths still remain however, standing proud on the moorland plain in clear sight from these once healing waters, whose mythic history, on the whole, has long since been disregarded….

Folklore

St Partick’s day on March 17—”a date very near the Spring Equinox,” as Mrs Banks (1939) reminded us—may have been the dates when the waters here were deemed particularly efficacious, although we have nothing in written accounts to tell us for sure. But in the 19th century Statistical Account we find that the site was “much frequented once, as effectual in curing the hooping cough.”  E.J. Guthrie (1885) told of an ancient rite regarding the drinking of the waters for effect of the cure, saying:

“In the course of this century a family came from Edinburgh, a distance of nearly sixty miles, to have the benefit of the well. The water must be drunk before sunrise or immediately after it sets and that out of a “quick cow’s horn”, or a horn taken from a live cow, and probably dedicated to this saint.”

Also in Muthill parish, Guthrie told, St Patrick’s memory was held in such veneration that farmers and millers did not work on his day.

References:

  1. Banks, M. MacLeod, British Calendar Customs: Scotland – volume 2, Folk-lore Society: Glasgow 1939.
  2. Booth, C. Gordon, “St Patrick’s Well (Muthill Parish),” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, New Series volume 1, 2000.
  3. Guthrie, E.J., Old Scottish Customs, Thomas D. Morison: Glasgow 1885.
  4. MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
  5. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St Patricks Well

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St Patricks Well 56.332868, -3.976376 St Patricks Well

Auchingarroch, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 78732 19579

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24795
  2. Roman Stone

Getting Here

Auchingarroch stone

The Auchingarroch stone

Take the B827 road south out of Comrie as if you’re heading towards Braco, and after a mile or so, as you start going uphill, turn left to go to the Wildlife Centre.  Go along the track and park up at the buildings.  The monolith is round the back of the first building (ask at the Centre, where the people there are very helpful).

Archaeology & History

F. Coles 19l1 sketch

F. Coles 19l1 sketch

Shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey map of the region as one of several ‘Roman Stone’ sites, this prehistoric upright is similar in size and feel to the other standing stones in the highly impressive Dunruchan complex close by.  The big fella stands on a raised piece of ground more than 8½ feet tall and, said Fred Coles (1911) has “a basal girth of 12ft 8ins.”  Quite a big stone!  A dubious large cup-mark is visible on the thin western face and three faint ones on its east.

The monolith is surrounded all along the southern landscape arc with forested moorland and low mountains, with the primary extended views reaching mainly into the north and western arc.  Although a rounded hillock immediately southwest of the stone looks promising, no calendrical or astronomical alignments have been found here.

Folklore

Auchingarroch, looking SW

Auchingarroch, looking SW

As with the other standing stones in this region, legend ascribes it as marking the resting place of a Roman soldier who fell in a great battle close by with our local heathens, in what was known as “battle of Mons Grampius.”

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. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  3. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.

Acknowledgements:  Thanks to Paul Hornby for the journey here; and more especially a different sorta thanks to Linzi Mitchell for her influence whilst the site profile of this megalithic erection was being written. Who sez that men can’t do two things at the same time?!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.352960, -3.963994 Auchingarroch

Dunruchan Hill, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 8022 1645 —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

Lisa standing with the old stone
Lisa with the old stone

Take the directions to the hugely impressive Dunruchan A standing stone.  Walk directly south, over the gate and follow the fence straight down the fields, crossing the burn at the very bottom. Walk over the boggy grassland and start veering uphill, southeast.  You’ll notice the land goes up in geological ‘steps’ and, a few hundred yards up, a small standing stone pokes up on the near skyline ahead of you.  Head straight for it!

Archaeology & History

This small standing stone was first noted after a quick visit to the major Dunruchan megalithic complex in the summer of 2016.  Photographer James Elkington was taking images of the landscape and the standing stones when he noticed a stone on the horizon a half-mile away.  As we were in a rush, he took a couple of photos from different angles on the way back to the car—both of which looked promising.  And so, several months later, we revisited the site again.  Lisa Samson, Paul Hornby, Martin Ferner and I meandered up the geological steps of the hillside until we reached the site in question.

Looking northwest
Looking northwest
Looking northeast
Looking northeast

Standing more than four-feet tall, this solitary stone overlooks the megalithic Dunruchan complex a half-mile or so to the north and northwest.  Like the Dunruchan C monolith, this smaller upright is conglomerate stone.  Paul Hornby noted what may be a single cup-marked stone roughly 100 yards east along the same ridge. (Please note that the grid-ref may be slightly out by perhaps 50 yards or so at the most. If anyone visits and can rectify my ineptitude on this matter, please let me  know.)

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Dunruchan Hill stone

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Dunruchan Hill stone 56.325264, -3.938488 Dunruchan Hill stone

Concraig, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 85480 19503

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25285

Getting Here

Concraig on the 1863 map
Concraig on the 1863 map

Take the A822 road south out of Crieff and less than half a mile down, in a field on the east side of the road is the giant solitary standing stone of Dargill. On the opposite side of the road from here (roughly) is a small country lane. Go along here and past the third field on your left, park up.  Look down the fields for a coupla hundred yards and you’ll see the standing stone. Make your way there by following the field-edges.

Archaeology & History

Concraig stone, near Crieff
Concraig stone, near Crieff

Closer to the larger town of Crieff than it is to the village of Muthill, this seven-foot tall standing stone, leaning at an angle to the north, with a small scatter of stones around its base, stands alone near the side of the field, feeling as if others once lived close by.  It’s set within a distinctly nurturing landscape, enclosed all round instead of screaming to the hills, with that nourishing female quality, less commonly found than those stones on the open moors.  The only real ‘opening’ in the landscape is “to the distant east”, as Andrew Finlayson (2010) noted.

Concraig, looking south
Concraig, looking south
Fred Coles 191 drawing
Fred Coles 191 drawing

First highlighted when the Ordnance Survey lads came here in 1863, the stone hasn’t fared too well in antiquarian tomes.  Fred Coles (1911), as usual, noted it in one of his Perthshire surveys, but could find very little information from local people about the place, simply stating that,

“in an open field about 300 yards to the north-west of Concraig, there stands this irregularly four-sided block of conglomerate schist… The stone measures 9 feet 3 inches round the base and stands 7 feet 3 inches in height.  About halfway up its eastern face it has been broken so as to leave a very distinct ledge.”

What appears to be cup-markings on the southern-face of the stone are just Nature’s handiwork.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.353958, -3.854827 Concraig stone

Dalchirla (east), Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference NN 82446 15893

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25355

Getting Here

Dalchira's standing stones
Dalchira’s standing stones

Along the A822 road between Crieff and Muthill, take the small western country lane just as you’re coming out of Muthill. Nearly 2 miles on, take the turn to the right, and then 100 yards or so from there turn sharp left. Keep along this country lane for about a mile till you reach the third track on your left.  Walk down the track and you’ll see the standing stones in the field on your left. A gate into the field is by the house.

Archaeology & History

A fascinating pair of relatively large standing stones 317 yards (289.5m) SSE of the tall singular monolith of Dalchira North in the adjacent field.  Traditionally said to have once been part of s stone circle, it was marked as such when the Ordnance Survey lads came here in 1863, but there is very little evidence of such a megalithic ring today—and even the small stone lying in between the two uprights is probably a more recent addition to the site.  It certainly wasn’t mentioned by Fred Coles (1911) when he came here, who gave only a brief description of the place.

Dalchira East & the skyline notch of Lurgan Hill
Dalchira East & the skyline notch of Lurgan Hill
Dalchira, looking east
Dalchira, looking east

The stones were included in Margaret Stewart’s (1968) list of megalithic pairings as measuring 7ft 6in x 4ft 3in x 2ft and 4ft 3in x 3ft 6in x 1ft respectively, and 8ft apart.  There is a small stone laid down in between them which has cup-marks on it, but these indentations are natural nodules in conglomerate rock.  But the measurements and angles of Dalchira East were examined by the late great Alexander Thom (1967; 1990) who thought they had been positioned specifically to observe and predict lunar movements across the sky, saying that the alignment of these stones “shows the declination of the Moon rising at the minor standstill.”  He may have been right.

Thom's geometry of Dalchirla
Thom’s geometry of Dalchirla

In Aubrey Burl’s notes to Thom (1990) he told that the size and shapes of these stones “have been interpreted as anthropomorphic, the taller, or alternatively the more pointed , usually at the west, being the male, the lower or flat-topped he female.” He subsequently included this site in his own work on megalithic stone rows (Burl 1993), without further comment.

Tis a peculiar site inasmuch there doesn’t seem to be much ‘feeling’ to the place.  I’m sure the site is gonna have its days, but more than likely the neat and tidy farmed theatre has subsumed the genius loci to all but the most auspicious of times—most likely generated when the pull of the Moon still tugs at any geomagnetic background memory… Still, it’s definitely worth looking at.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Heggie, Douglas C., Megalithic Science: Ancient Mathematics and Astronomy in Northwest Europe, Thames & Hudson: London 1981.
  5. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Excavation of a Setting of Standing Stones at Lundin Farm near Aberfedly, Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 98, 1966.
  6. Thom, Alexander, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press 1967.
  7. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.320787, -3.902278 Dalchirla (east)

Dalchirla (north), Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 82274 16125

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25356

Getting Here

The big fella in the field
The big fella in the field

Along the A822 road between Crieff and Muthill, take the small western country lane just as you’re coming out of Muthill. Nearly 2 miles on, take the turn to the right, and then 100 yards or so from there turn sharp left. Keep along this gorgeous country lane for about a mile till you reach the third track on your left and park up.  Walk down the track and you’ll see the standingh stone in the field on your right. Go all the way to the bottom where the farm is and go through the gate into the field.

Archaeology & History

The slim end of the wedge
The slim end of the wedge

Less than 2 miles southeast of the megalithic titan of  Dunruchan A, we find a slightly smaller monolith positioned on lower ground and humbled by a more manicured landscape close to the farmhouse.  But it’s still a big fella, albeit hemmed in by a mass of field clearance rocks piled up and around the base (two of which have odd carvings on them).  The stone is about ten-feet tell, being very slim on its north-south side and much wider on its east-west face.  For some reason I got the impression that the stone wasn’t standing in its original position; though in searching through my megalith library for further information on the site, l found that very little has been written about it.  The earliest literary evidence comes, as usual, from Fred Coles (1911), who simply told us:

“In a field south of Machany Water and NE of Dalchirla farm-steading 260 yards, there stands this tall and striking monolith… In essential features this stone much resembles most of the great schistose blocks which characterize the main portion of the Strathearn area; but it tapers upwards to a very thin and narrow summit that rather distinguishes it from its fellows. It stands 9 feet 4 inches above ground, and girths at the base 7 feet 11 inches.  It is set with its longer axis due north and south. Around its base there are several large masses of stone—not earthfast—amid a conglomeration of smaller pieces evidently cleared off the field.”

Fred Coles' 1911 drawing
Fred Coles’ 1911 drawing

The prehistoric cairn of Torlum to the north may have had some significance to the setting of the stone, but without excavation and details of its original site, we’re just grasping at straws when it comes to evaluating any potential geomancy or landscape relationships—with the megalithic stone row in the next field perhaps being an exception!

The moorlands above here, stretching for many a mile, is apparently lacking in any prehistoric remains if you listen to the official records. But with the Dunruchan megalithic complex only two miles away and the once-giant tomb of Cairnwochel over the southeastern horizon, we know that cannot be possible… Watch this space!

References:

  1. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.322832, -3.905170 Dalchirla (north)

Giant’s Knowe, Culloch, Muthill, Perthshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NN 7848 1762

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24797
  2. Crock-nafion
  3. Fingalian’s Knowe

Archaeology & History

Landscape of the Giant's Knowe (image credit, Marion Woolley)
Landscape of the Giant’s Knowe (image credit, Marion Woolley)

Amidst the colourful and nurturing landscape close to the gigantic Dunruchan standing stones and just along the road from the solitary Craigneich stone, in the field across the road above Straid farmhouse could once be seen a fascinating-sounding prehistoric site that has sadly been destroyed.  Some of the remains of this old monument can be found in the field-clearance of stones just over the fence, above the top of the field (many fields round here have scatterings of large stone clearings at the field edges), but we have no detailed accounts of the site.  It was mentioned in early notes by the Ordnance Survey to have been,

“A large circular heap of small stone and gravel entirely removed in 1831. An urn filled with ashes and several stone coffins were found under it.”

The local historian John Shearer (1883) later told us that,

“A small mound of earth on the farm of Strayd, called Crock-nafion or the Giant’s Knowe, or the Fingalian’s Knowe, was cleared away several years ago.  An urn containing burnt bones was discovered.”

Any additional information about this site and its folklore, would be greatly appreciated.

Folklore

To the west along Glen Artney whence our view takes us from here, old legend told that the valley was once the abode of a great giant who lived in a cave in one of the mountains thereby.  In mythic lore, giants were the creation deities of hills, mountains and other geological forms, whose narratives were overturned and demonized by the incoming christian cult many centuries ago.  It is likely that this once great tomb was deemed as the burial-place of our local giant – which would make this prehistoric site neolithic in age. But — logical though it is — this idea is pure speculation…

References:

  1. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Philips: Crieff 1896.
  2. Shearer, John, Antiquities of Strathearn, David Philips: Crieff, 1883.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Giant's Knowe

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Giant\'s Knowe 56.335363, -3.967143 Giant\'s Knowe

Dunruchan ‘E’ Standing Stone, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone: OS Grid Reference – NN 78997 16819

Dunruchan E stone, looking N

Also Known as:

  1. Aodann Mhor
  2. Canmore ID 24790
  3. Cornoch
  4. Shillinghill

Getting Here

Follow the directions to reach the standing stone of Dunruchan D, and there on the moor immediately to your south, 100 yards or so away, it stands before you!

Archaeology & History

Dunruchan E stone, with Dunruchan D to rear

This is the southernmost of the impressive standing stones on the plain below Dunruchan Hill.  Notably more ’rounded’ at the top than most of its associates—giving a more distinct ‘female’ nature to the stone than its companions—we find again, scattered around the base of this 7-foot tall monolith, a number of smaller rocks that gives the impression an old cairn was once here.  Certainly there are a scatter of several other cairns nearby and we get the distinct impression with all of the Dunruchan stones, that a prehistoric cemetery was once in evidence here.

Ground-plan of stone & cairn
Cole’s drawing of Dunruchan E

Although this is the last of the known standing stones in this area, there is every probability of other prehistoric remains hidden amidst the heathlands—perhaps even more large standing stones that have fallen and are overgrown with vegetation. When Fred Cole came here one time with the great rock art writer, Sir James Simpson, one such fallen standing stone was reported a short distance tot he east, but it has yet to be recovered.  There may be more.

In Fred Cole’s (1911) report of this particular “south stone”, or Dunruchan E,  he wrote:

“This monolith, in respect of position, somewhat resembles the last, because it stands on the west arc of a rudely circular setting of small stones, which, however, are not placed on a mound (as in the case of Stone D), but merely lie on the flat of the moor. Five of these blocks are large enough to be noticeable, and they occupy the positions shown by the outlined stones in the ground-plan (fig. 21), the farthest to the east being 15 feet distant from the inner face of the standing monolith A.  The dimensions of this Stone are: height 6 feet 9 inches, basal girth 16 feet 1 inch. In the illustration (fig. 22) I show this Stone with the other great one near set on its platform, and to the right two of the numerous small, low cairns which are scattered about this part of the moor. ”

Folklore

According to an account in the Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1860, “these stones are believed to mark the graves or commemorate the death of Roman soldiers who fell in a battle fought here between the Romans and the Caledonians.”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.
  5. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Dunruchan E

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Dunruchan E 56.328269, -3.958440 Dunruchan E

Dunruchan ‘D’ Standing Stone, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone: OS Grid Reference – NN 79044 16881

Also Known as:

  1. Aodann Mhor
  2. Canmore ID 24790
  3. Cornoch
  4. Shillinghill

Getting Here

Dunruchan D Stone – with Dunruchan E in background

Follow the directions to reach the Craigneich standing stone, then across the road and uphill past the Dunruchan B standing stone, uphill further past the Dunruchan C standing stone and onto the moorland plain just behind it. You’ll see two large standing stones ahead of you on the moor to the south, a coupla hundred yards away.  The nearest one is Dunruchan D.

Archaeology & History

Fred Coles’ 1911 drawing

Another fine large standing stone in this curious but excellent megalithic complex on the hills south of Comrie. This great monolith leans at a slight angle, and would be some 10 feet tall if the ages had kept it perpendicular. It’s truly impressive; and it emerges from the edge of a large raised cairn which almost surrounds it.  The cairn is overgrown yet some 3-4 feet tall and made up of thousands of small stones. It’s the most notable of the cairns scattering the plains of Dunruchan, and gives the best impression of the standing stones here being memorials to some ancient chief, queen or shaman.  As far as I know, this cairn has not been excavated, so we know not yet who or what lies beneath it.

Carved parallelogram design

A small section of the standing stone has some faded carving on its eastern side. These seem to be relatively recent, though a curious parallelogram design echoes the carving (albeit larger) on the Gleneagles B standing stone, 10 miles southeast, and which is thought to be Pictish.  The carving here, however, doesn’t have that feel to it.

The stone and the cairn were noted in Fred Coles’ (1911) survey, in which he called this the “south-west stone” and wrote:

“New features are presented in combination with this Stone. In lieu of being set absolutely solitary on the heath, there are, extending for a considerable area almost around its base, many stones and boulders laid in the form of a flattish circular cairn or platform (see ground-plan). The monolith, which leans over towards the north, is set to the south of the crest of the cairn, and there is a considerable fall from the crest to the level of the moor around it, indicating that a very great quantity of small stones must have been employed in making the cairn. The interior, shown dotted on the plan, bears signs of having been partially excavated, probably the cause of the Stone being so much out of the vertical. The stony cairn or platform measures 15 feet in diameter, and consists of moderate sized stones. The base of the great Standing Stone is oblong, and measures in girth 14 feet 2 inches. Down the slope of its back the length is 10 feet, and its present vertical height 8 feet 6 inches. The longer axis is almost exactly due east and west. From this spot the next Stone in order can be easily seen…”

Coles’ groundplan of cairn & stone

Several other small cairns scatter this grassy and heathland plain, all of them overgrown and none of them excavated.

Dunruchan D, looking south

As with the other Dunruchan monoliths, this one has been included in the megalithic stone row surveys by both Alexander Thom (1990) and Aubrey Burl (1993), but the staggered alignment this has with the other standing stones is more likely fortuitous than deliberate.  But this doesn’t detract from the magnitude of the megalithic cluster on this  small section of moorland.  A truly brilliant site!

Folklore

According to an account in the Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1860, “these stones are believed to mark the graves or commemorate the death of Roman soldiers who fell in a battle fought here between the Romans and the Caledonians.”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.
  5. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Dunruchan D

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Dunruchan D 56.328815, -3.957708 Dunruchan D

Dunruchan ‘C’ Standing Stone, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone: OS Grid Reference – NN 79108 17137

Also Known as:

  1. Aodann Mhor
  2. Canmore ID 24790
  3. Cornoch
  4. Shillinghill
Dunruchan C, looking North

Getting Here

Follow the directions to get to the Dunruchan B standing stone, on the slopes south of Craigneich. Once there, on the hillside further above you, you’ll see a large upright stone on the moor about 300 yards to the south, standing just below the rise of a small hillock. That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Fred Coles’ 1911 drawing

The second biggest of the Dunruchan monoliths is what Fred Coles (1911) described as “the Middle Stone,” or Dunruchan C. Standing just below the rise of a large natural mound of earth, obstructing any immediate view of the western hills, it too has a long upright shape with a pointed end to the stone, leaning at a considerable angle. The massive stone of Dunruchan A is clearly visible on the grassy cairn-scattered plain 543 yards to the east and the smaller Dunruchan B to the north on the slopes below. Dunruchan C was deemed as one of the central stones in this unlikely megalithic stone row by both Aubrey Burl (1993) and Alexander Thom (1990). Mr Coles’ description of the site told:

“This huge block…rugged and irregular…makes, from the extraordinary angle at which it leans over southwards, a surprisingly picturesque object amid the heather and the various small boulders that lie scattered about in its vicinity. Of oblong basal section, the Stone tapers sharply up to a small narrow edge, which is at present 9 feet 4 inches in vertical height above the grassy ledge surrounding the base. In girth it measures over 17 feet, and the slope of its upper surface is over 12 feet in length. Intervening undulations in the moorland prevent one seeing the two Stones which stand farther down south-wards. The main axis of its base is N. 18° W. by S. 18° E. ”

Dunruchan C, looking east
The leaning pillar of Dunruchan C

Once you walk onto the mound above this stone, the landscape opens up all round you. The southernmost monoliths of the Dunruchan complex awake to the south; what seems to have been another significant boulder sits low down a few hundred yards to the west; the faint outline of a large man-made enclosure of some sort is another 100 yards west of that; and the rocky mountains west and north of here captures you with a relaxing exultation, typical of the Scottish hills.  This arena is an absolute must for all megalith fanatics!

Folklore

According to an account in the Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1860, “these stones are believed to mark the graves or commemorate the death of Roman soldiers who fell in a battle fought here between the Romans and the Caledonians.”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.
  5. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Dunruchan C

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Dunruchan C 56.331127, -3.956780 Dunruchan C