Peace Stone, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 56413 99540

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 44622
  2. Gartrenich
  3. Malling
  4. Menteith 1

Getting Here

Peace Stone cup-and-ring

The quickest way here is bedevilled with troublesome parking (and an unhelpful local at Malling Cottage).  That aside, roughly halfway along the A81 between the Braeval roundabout (near Aberfolye) and Port of Meneith, turn down the track at Malling, following it round for 300 yards through the farm, then another 500 yards or so until you reach a junction with a gate on your left. Walk down the track to your right, roughly alongside the Lake of Menteith, for nearly 700 yards until you reach the gate into the forestry commission land. Go thru the gate and turn immediate right, following the fence for about 200 yards where a clump of stones lives. You’re there!

Archaeology & History

The Peace Stone in 1899

This seemingly isolated petroglyph, known about by local people in the middle of the 19th century and earlier, was said to have been “held in great reverence.”  It was first mentioned in literary accounts in 1866, when the oral traditions about it were more important than any archaeocentricism.  But things change with the times: local people were kicked off their lands, old stories and knowledge of sites were lost, and the ‘discipline’ of archaeology was beginning to look at these curious carved rocks with puzzled minds.

The Peace Stone was described at some length and with considerable accuracy in Mr A.F. Hutchison’s (1893) gazetteer on the ancient stones of Stirlingshire.  It was one of the regions only known petroglyphs at that time and thankfully he gave us a good account of it, saying:

“On the west ride of the Lake of Menteith, about half a mile south from the farm-house of Malling, this stone is to be found, lying at the boundary of the arable land. The ground at the place rises into a slight eminence, on the top of which the stone lay till some seven or eight years ago, when a labourer took it into his head that a stone on which so much labour had evidently been spent must have been intended to cover something valuable. He proceeded to excavate the earth at the side with the intention of getting at the buried treasure, with the result that the stone slipped down into the hole which he had made, where it now lies.  It is quite possible, however, that an interment, if no treasure, might be found beside it on further research. The stone is roughly circular on the surface, measuring about 4 feet in diameter. It is entirely covered with cup and ring marks—22 cups in all—varying in size from an inch to two inches in diameter.  The cups and rings are very symmetrically formed. Nearly in the centre is a fine one surrounded by four circular grooves.  Others have incomplete triple and quadruple circles, with radial duct dividing them. There are other curious curves that sometimes interlace, and near the lower side of the stone are five or six cups with straight channels running out from them over the edge. This is an extremely interesting stone. It is unique in our neighbourhood, so far as I know, in showing these symmetrical carvings. They are now, however, much weather-worn.”

Ron Morris’ sketch & photo

When Alison Young (1938) came to write about the carving, she echoed Hutchison’s thought that the stone might have originally have covered a tomb—but we simply don’t know and it should be treated as guesswork, as there are no known prehistoric tombs anywhere hereby.

Close-up of faded cups

Years passed before the next archaeological visit – by which time the stone had been uprooted and moved, apparently “ploughed up by the Forestry Commission”, and when Ron Morris (1981) last sought it out found that “the stone was un-traceable”.  On a previous visit, before being moved, he found it to be,

“a cup-and-three-rings, 3 cups surrounded by two rings…and 6 cup-and-one-ring.  One of these and 2 cups form part of the design of the cup-and-three-rings.  There were also at least 7 other cups, and a number of grooves, some forming lines from a central cup, or a cup-mark, downhill.  Greatest diameter visible in 1977 30cm (12in) and depth of carving 3cm (1 in)… Many of the carvings are so weathered as to be visible only when wet in early morning or late evening.”

And when we visited the site a few days ago, the stunning sunlight that had followed us all day, sadly faded and disallowed us better photographs of the site.  Huge apologies…. But it’s worth visiting when the daylight’s good, perhaps when you’re exploring the huge number of brilliant petroglyphs at Ballochraggan and Nether Glenny on the hillside 1½ miles immediately north of this “outlier”, as Brouwer & van Veen (2009) called it.

Folklore

In a landscape bedevilled with stunning petroglyphs, traditions and folklore of them is all but gone; but the story of the Peace Stone was thankfully captured in words by Mr Dun (1866), who told us:

There is a curious prophecy connected with a stone situated near the ruins of the chapel of Arnchly, and which is worth recording.  From time immemorial this stone went under the name of the Peace Stone, and it was held in great reverence by the natives.  One Pharic McPharic, a noted Gaelic prophet, foretold that, in the course of time, this stone would be buried underground by two brothers, who, for their indiscretion, were to die childless. By-and-by the stone would rise to the surface, and by the time it was fairly above ground, a battle was to be fought on “Auchveity,” that is, “Betty’s Field.”  The battle was to be long and fierce, until “Gramoch-Cam” of Glenny, that is, “Graham of the one eye,” would sweep from the “Bay-wood” with his clan and decide the contest. After the battle, a large raven was to alight on the stone and drink the blood of the fallen. So much for the prophecy then; now for the fulfilment. About fifty years ago, two brothers (tenants of the farm of Arnchly), finding that the stone interfered with their agricultural labours, made a large trench, and had it put several feet below the surface. Very singular, indeed, both these men, although married, died without leaving any issue. With the labouring of the field for a number of years, the stone has actually made its appearance above ground, and there is at present living a descendant of the Grahams of Glenny who is blind of one eye, and the ravens are daily hovering over the devoted field. Tremble ye natives! and rivals of the “Hero Grahams,” keep an eye on Gramoch-Cam!

The name of Betty’s Field came from an earlier piece of folklore: where a prince out hunting a stag was caught in one of the deep bogs hereby, only to be rescued by a local lass.  In return for her help, she was given a large piece of land which was to bear her name.

References:

  1. Armit, Ian, “The Peace Stone (Port of Menteith parish),” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1998.
  2. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  3. Dun, P., Summer at the Lake of Monteith, James Hedderwick: Glasgow 1866.
  4. Hutchison, A.F., “The Standing Stones and other Rude Monuments of Stirling District,” in Transactions Stirling Natural History & Antiquarian Society, volume 15, 1893.
  5. Hutchison, A.F., The Lake of Menteith: Its Islands and Vicinity with Historical Accounts of the Priory of Inchmahome and the Earldom of Menteith, Stirling 1899.
  6. Mallery, Garrick, “Pictographs of the North American Indians,” in Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, volume 4, 1886.
  7. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  8. van Hoek, Maarten, “Menteith (Port of Menteith parish) Rock Art Sites,” in Discovery Excavation Scotland, 1989.
  9. Young, Alison, “Cup-and ring Markings on Craig Ruenshin, with some Comparative Notes”, in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, vol. 72, 1938.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Peace Stone CR

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Peace Stone CR 56.166808, -4.313964 Peace Stone CR

Over Glenny (04), Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference — NN 56991 02834

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 352014

Getting Here

Over Glenny (4) C&R

Along the A81 road from Port of Menteith to Aberfoyle, watch out for the small road in the trees running at an angle sharply uphill, nearly opposite Portend, up to Coldon and higher. Keep going, bearing right past Mondowie and stopping at the dirt-track 100 yards or so further up on the left. Walk up this dirt-track for ⅔ mile, and just before reaching the planted forestry, turn right along another dirt-track. Less than 200 yards along there’s a large sycamore tree, and about 20 yards below it (south) are several open flat rock surfaces.  This is the most westerly of them.

Archaeology & History

…and again

On this small smooth rock surface we find an almost archetypal cup-and-ring stone, whose design consists of a double cup-and-ring and a faint cup-and-ring. The double-ring has several seemingly natural small fissures in the rock running at various angles into the central cup from the outside; and there are two faint ones running from the double-rings outwards to the cup-mark in the single-ring, framing the central cupmark in the middle. It may have been that these scratches on the rock gave rise to the position of the cupmark in this petroglyph.  It’s difficult to see whether or not the single cup-and-ring was ever completed.

Canmore’s description of this petroglyph tells simply: “The larger of the two is 180mm in diameter and has two rings around a cup that is 70mm in diameter and 15mm deep. The smaller has one ring around a cup.”

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  2. Sorowka, P., Davenport, C., & Fairclough, J., “Stirling, Over Glenny,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, vol. 15, 2014.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to Paul Hornby, Lisa Samson & Fraser Harrick for all their help on the day of this visit.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.196563, -4.306437 Over Glenny (4)

Over Glenny (05), Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid — NN 56993 02835

Getting Here

‘Over Glenny 5’ Carving

Along the A81 road from Port of Menteith to Aberfoyle, watch out for the small road in the trees running at an angle sharply uphill, nearly opposite Portend, up to Coldon and higher. Keep going, bearing right past Mondowie and stopping at the dirt-track 100 yards or so further up on the left.  Walk up this dirt-track for ⅔ mile, and just before reaching the planted forestry, turn right along another dirt-track.  Less than 200 yards along there’s a large sycamore tree, and about 20 yards below it (south) is the carving you’re looking for.

Archaeology & History

It’s difficult keeping up with the carvings in this region to the north of the Lake of Menteith, as we find new unrecorded ones on every visit, maintaining the tradition of fellow rock art students Maarten van Hoek, Kaledon Naddair, George Currie, Jan Broewer and the rest—and we know that there’s more of them hidden away.  This one doesn’t seem to be in the Canmore listings, but I put that down to the fact that they’ve got a grid-references wrong somewhere, as it’s pretty plain to see.  Although, to be honest, in the rather vague descriptions of the adjacent carvings (Over Glenny 4 and 6), this carving is in-between them, so you’d expect it to be listed.  Anyway, that aside…

Looking down at the rings
Close-up of faint rings

This long flat exposed rock surface has two primary cup-and-rings upon it: one cup with a double-ring, and the other standard cup-and-ring; there are also two single cup-markings on the stone: one near the middle of the rock and the other on its lower-right side.  The main element is the double-cup-and-ring, which appears to be incomplete—not only in terms of its design, but also, as you can see in the photos, seems unfinished. From the central double-ring, a faint carved line runs out from the centre and into the other faint, incomplete, single cup-and-ring.

Series of metal-sharpening grooves
Arty-farty sketch of the design

At the bottom of the stone (as with several others hereby) a curious set of deep scars have been cut into the edge of the rock.  They’re unmistakable when you see them.  They have probably been created by metal artifacts being sharpened along the bottom of the rock—many many times by the look of it.  These deep cuts reminded me of the more famous Polisher Stone, down Avebury-way.  They may be explained by the fact that, several centuries ago, a battle occurred here and some of the men gathered in the area before the attack.  It would seem as if this and the other cup-and-ring stones were used to sharpen their blades before going into battle.  Whether this was done because of some local lore which imbued these stones with some sort of magick, we do not know.  Folklore here seems curiously scarce (english incomers destroyed local traditions, as writers were telling us in the 19th century), apart from the well-known one of the area being rife with fairies: Robert Kirk’s famous The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries (1691) was written three miles west of here, at Aberfoyle.

References:

  1. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to the rest of the crew: Paul Hornby, Lisa Samson & Fraser Harrick.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.196565, -4.306399 Over Glenny (5)

Auchensalt, Thornhill, Stirlingshire

Broch:  OS Grid Reference – NN 6533 0099

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24398
  2. Easter Borland
  3. Keir

Getting Here

Auchinsalt broch, looking south

Take the A873 from Thornhill to Aberfoyle, and literally 1 mile west of Thornhill turn right up the track up and past Easter Borland farm (as if you’re heading up to Auchensalt).  250 yards past the farm, a large field opens up.  Walk 100 yards east along the side of the wall towards the trees and follow the tree-line upstream 250 yards (don’t go into the lovely little glen) until, on your right, you’ll see a reasonably large area of grassland that rises up, with a steep-ish slope down to the burn below.  This is the remains of the broch.

Archaeology & History

Shown as a ‘Keir’ on the 1866 OS-map, this is an old Scottish dialect word, barely used at all nowadays (folk need to start using it again!) which meant “an ancient fortification” or “rude forts”.  The word is mentioned in early Statistical Accounts in 1795 and in the Second Account of 1845 the “Kiers at Auchinsalt” are mentioned specifically, albeit in passing….

Auchinsalt ‘Keir’ on 1866 map

When we visited the site yesterday, very little could be seen due mainly to the summer vegetation covering the area.  A very small section of open walling was noted on its western side, and beneath the undergrowth a roughly oval structure was in evidence on the rise between the edge of the field and the drop into the small glen below.  Something obviously man-made lies beneath the grasses, but in the last 100 years or so there has been debate as to whether it was a fort, a dun or a broch.  The consensus at the mo, tells Euan Mackie (2007), is that it’s a broch!

Auchinsalt broch, looking east

Measuring some 25 yards across, the walling that makes up the broch was between 4-6 feet wide all round, and about 2 feet high.  There seemed to be aggregates of large scattered stones inside and outside the main oval feature.  If there was an entrance, it seemed to be at the western side, but I wasn’t sure about this. In truth, unless you’re a hardcore broch fanatic, you’d be truly disappointed with the dilapidated state of this monument.  Much better ones can be seen just a few miles away…

References:

  1. Chrystal, William, The Kingdom of Kippen, Munro & Jamieson: Stirling 1903.
  2. Grant, William (ed.), The Scottish National Dictionary – volume 5, SNDA: Edinburgh 1960.
  3. MacKie, Euan W., The Roundhouses, Brochs and Wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700 BC-AD 500, BAR: Oxford 2007.
  4. McCulloch, Stuart J., Thornhill and its Environs, Munro Trust: Perth 1995.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Paul Hornby for getting us here. Cheers matey!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.182442, -4.171079 Auchinsalt

Nether Glenny 02, Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5644 0202

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 87382

Getting Here

Nether Glenny 2 tomb, looking east
Nether Glenny 2 tomb, looking east

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the nearby Nether Glenny 1 cairn; but look into the field immediately north (through the gate on the other side of the fence) about 100 yards away and you’ll see the telling bump rising out of the grasses.

Archaeology & History

Another burial mound of roughly the same size and form as its companion 100 yards to the south, but this one appears to be more intact than its close neighbour.  The top centre of the overgrown cairn seems to have been robbed sometime in the past—perhaps for use in the nearby walling; perhaps by treasure-seekers. We will probably never really know.

Nether Glenny 2 & its close neighbour
Nether Glenny 2 & its close neighbour

Although much overgrown in grasses (with species of shamanic fungi surrounding), the roughly circular tomb is between 3-4 feet high, roughly flat-topped, and measures 12 yards north-south, by 15 yards east-west.  There is no immediate evidence of the internal tomb and it has yet to be satisfactorily excavated.  A small outcrop of stones about 30 yards to the north possesses a highly impressive detailed multi-ringed neolithic petroglyph.

References:

  1. Bailey, G.B., ‘Nether Glenny (Port of Menteith parish)’, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1987.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.189180, -4.315121 Netherglenny cairn (2)

Nether Glenny, Port of Menteith, Perthshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NN 56470 01923

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24058

Getting Here

Nether Glenny cairn, looking south
Nether Glenny cairn, looking south

Along the A81 road from Port of Menteith to Aberfoyle, watch out for the small road in the trees running at an angle sharply uphill, nearly opposite Portend, up to Coldon and higher. Keep going, bearing right at Mondowie, then stopping at the dirt-track 100 yards or so further up. Walk up the track, thru the gate, and another 100 yards or so higher up, go thru the gate on your left. Walk up the field alongside the fence until you’re on the level and you’ll see a large rounded mound about 75 yards in the same field to your left.

Archaeology & History

This little known prehistoric tomb sits within a landscape rich in very impressive neolithic and Bronze Age petroglyphs and probably had some relationship with one or more of the carvings in aeons past.  It is one of several tombs in the area.

Rainbow across the tomb
Rainbow across the tomb

The site was only recently rediscovered in the 1980s, following an archaeological survey of the area before the forestry plantation was done.  Measuring about 20 yards across and about five feet high, the large mound consists of the traditional mass of hundreds, if not thousands of stones.  It seems that a ring of small uprights encircled and defined the edge of the cairn, although this element is only visible on its eastern side.  Its northern mass and edges have been dug into and ruined at some point in the past, leaving a mass of rubble visible beneath the encroaching grasses.  The tomb has not be adequately excavated, so we do not know whether it was built at the same time of the surrounding petroglyphs.  It must be noted (again) that the incidence of tombs and cup-and-ring stones is not infrequent.

The grassland plain where we stand here—with another tomb of very similar form about 100 yards to the north—reminded me somewhat of the Baildon Moor complex in Yorkshire, where rock art and burials are found side by side.

References:

  1. Bailey, G.B., ‘Nether Glenny (Port of Menteith parish)’, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1987.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.188217, -4.314416 Netherglenny cairn (1)