Fairy Well, Logie, Stirlingshire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 8135 9804

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 47123
  2. Hielantman’s Well
  3. Highlandman’s Well
  4. Holy Well

Getting Here

Fairy Well, emerging from wall

Fairy Well, emerging from wall

From Stirling, take the A9 to Bridge of Allan, turning right at the roundabout along the A907 for less than a mile, then turning left at the next roundabout up the A91.  A half-mile down, at the small roundabout, bear left and first right, up to Logie Church.  Keep going all the way up this steep winding road, turning right at the junction.  Go along here for a quarter of a mile and park up at the roadside.  Walk along a bit further where the road has a bittova sharp bend.  The sound of the stream coming out of the small glen is obvious.  Walk past this and, on the right-hand side of the road, past the stream, you’ll find a water source emerging from the boscage of an overgrown wall.  Keep looking.  It’s damn close!

Archaeology & History

In the 1792 Statistical Account of this northeastern edge of Stirling, moving into the ancient parish of Logie, we were given an early brief account of this all-but-forgotten sacred water source which, thankfully, still runs fine water to this day.  It was described in tandem with the ancient Hill of the Picts called Dunmyatt, more than a mile to the east; but,

“About half-a-mile from the foot of this hill…is a very fine well, which issues from more than sixty springs, that rise through the sand and channel.  It is called the Holy Well, and is said to have been much resorted to by the Roman Catholics.”

Close-up of the running waters

Close-up of the running waters

In R.M. Menzies (1905) magnum opus on the parish of Logie, he told that it “was popularly known as ‘the Heilantman’s Well’, a possible reminiscence of the ’15 where the battle of Sheriffmuir was fought nearby.”  This tradition is echoed by several local historians; though Angus Watson (1995) wonders whether it’s ‘Highlandman’s Well’ name (and its variants) is “perhaps more likely to the use of the well by Highland drovers.”  It’s in the perfect spot too!

When the Royal Commission (1963) lads visited the place in 1952, they described the well to have “been filled up.”  Thankfully today, the old well emerges out of the overgrown remains of an old wall, the waters of which still run fast and free and into the larger stream ahead of it.  The waters are fine and clear, and tasted cold and refreshing when I drank some a few days ago.  It’s an excellent spot to quench the thirst after a day out in the Ochils.


Of the various titles given to this old water source, the more popular choice in recent years has been to call it the Highlandman’s Well.  However, local lore had always known it to be a place where the little people had acquaintance and it seems more vital to maintain its old folk-name.  In R.M. Menzies (1912) rare work on the folklore of the region, he told us the story behind the name:

“Once upon a time, when people took life more leisurely, and when the wee folk frequented the glens and hills of Scotland, there was one little fairy whose duty it was to look after certain wells renowned for their curative properties.  This fairy was called Blue Jacket, and his favourite haunt was the Fairy Well on the Sheriffmuir Road, where the water was so pure and cool that nobody could pass along without taking a drink of the magic spring.  A draught of this water would have such a refreshing effect that the drinker could go on his journey without feeling either thirsty or hungry.  Many travellers who had refreshed themselves at the Fairy Well would bless the good little man who kept guard over its purity, and proceed upon their way dreaming of pleasant things all the day long.

“One warm day in June, a Highland drover from the Braes of Rannoch came along with a drove of Highland cattle, which he was taking to Falkirk Tryst, and feeling tired and thirsty he stopped at the Fairy Well, took a good drink of its limpid water, and sat down beside it to rest, while his cattle browsed nearby.  The heat was very overpowering, and he fell into a dreamy sleep.

“As he lay enjoying his noonday siesta, Blue Jacket stepped out from among the brackens and approaching the wearied drover, asked him whence he came.  The drover said:

“‘I come from the Highland hills beside the Moor of Rannoch; but I have never seen such a wee man as you before.  Wha’ may you be?’

“‘Oh,’ said the fairy, ‘I am Blue Jacket, one of the wee folk!’

“‘Ay, ay man, ye have got a blue jacket, right enough; but I’ve never met ony o’ your kind before. Do ye bide here?’

“‘Sometimes; but I am the guardian of the spring from which you have just been drinking.’

“‘Weel, a’ I can say is that it is grand water; there is no’ the likes o’t frae this to Rannoch.’

“‘What’s your name?’ asked the fairy.

“‘They ca’ me Sandy Sinclair, the Piper o’ Rannoch,’ was the reply.

“‘Have you got your pipes?’ asked Blue Jacket.

“‘Aye, my mannie, here they are.  Wad ye like a tune?  Ye see there’s no’ a piper like me in a’ Perthshire.’

“‘Play away then,’ said Blue Jacket.

“Sandy Sinclair took up his pipes and, blowing up the bag, played a merry Highland reel.  When he finished, he was greatly surprised to see above the well a crowd of little folk, like Blue Jacket, dancing to the music he had been playing.  As he stopped they clapped their little hands and exclaimed, ‘Well done Sandy! You’re the piper we need.’

“Thereupon Blue Jacket blew a silver whistle, which he took from his belt, and all the wee folk formed themselves into a double row.  Blue Jacket then took the Highland piper by the hand, led him to the front of the procession, and told him to play a march.  Sandy felt himself unable to resist the command of the fairy, and, putting the chanter into his mouth, blew his hardest and played his best, marching at the head of the long line of little people, who tripped along, keeping time to the strains of the bagpipes.  Blue Jacket walked in front of the piper, leading the way in the direction of the Fairy Knowe.

“Sandy Sinclair never marched so proudly as he did that day, and the road, though fairly long, seemed to be no distance at all; the music of the pibroch fired his blood and made him feel as if he was leading his clansmen to battle.   When the Fairy Knowe was reached, the wee folk formed themselves into a circle round the little hill, and sang a song the sweetest that ever fell upon the ears of the Highlandman.  Blue Jacket once more took his whistle and, blowing three times upon it, held up his hand, and immediately the side of the knoll opened.  Bidding the piper to play on, Blue Jacket led the procession into the interior; and when all were inside, the fairies formed themselves into sets, and the piper playing a strathspey, they began dancing with might and main.

“One dance succeeded another, and still Sandy played on, the wee folk tripping it as merrily as ever.  All thoughts of Sandy’s drove had gone quite out of his head, and all he thought of now was how best to keep the fairies dancing: he had never seen such nimble dancers, and every motion was so graceful and becoming as made him play his very best to keep the fun going.  Sandy Sinclair was in Fairyland, and every other consideration was forgotten.

“Meanwhile his cattle and sheep were following their own sweet will, the only guardian left to take care of them being his collie dog.  This faithful animal kept watch as well as he could, and wondered what had become of his master.  Towards evening another drover came along with his cattle for the same tryst.  He knew the dog at once, and began to pet the animal, saying at the same time, ‘Where’s your master, Oscar? What’s become o’ Sandy?’

“All the dog would do was to wag his bushy tail, and look up with a pleading air, as if to say, ‘I don’t know; will you not find him?’

“‘My puir wee doggie, I wonder what’s come over Sandy?  It’s no like him to leave his cattle stravaiging by the roadside.  Ay ay man; and at the Fairy Well too!  Indeed, this looks unco bad.’

“The newcomer, who was also a Highlander, made up his mind to spend the night with his own drove and that of Sandy Sinclair, thinking that the missing man would turn up in the morning.  But when the morning came there was no sign of Sandy.

“Taking Sandy’s collie and leaving his own dog in charge of the combined droves, he said, ‘Find master, Oscar!’  The wise beast sniffed around for a little and then trotted off in the direction taken the day before by Sandy Sinclair and the fairies.  By and by they reached the Fairy Knowe; but there was nobody there as far as the drover could see.  The dog ran round and round the knoll, barking vigorously all the time, and looking up into the face of the drover as if to say, ‘This is where he is; this is where he is.’  The drover examined every bit of the Fairy Knowe, but there was no trace of Sandy Sinclair.  As the drover sat upon the top of the Fairy Knowe, wondering what he should do next, he seemed to hear the sound of distant music.  Telling the faithful dog to keep quiet, he listened attentively, and by-and-by made out the sound of the pibroch; but whether it was at a long distance or not, he could not be certain.  In the meantime, the dog began to scrape at the side of the mound and whimper in a plaintive manner.  Noticing this, the drover put his ear to the ground and listened.  There could be no mistake this time: the music of the pibroch came from the centre of the Fairy Knowe.

“‘Bless my soul!’ exclaimed Sandy’s friend. ‘He’s been enticed by the fairies to pipe at their dances.  We’ll ne’er see Sandy Sinclair again.’

“It was as true as he said.  The Piper of Rannoch never returned to the friends he knew, and the lads and lasses had to get another piper to play their dance music when they wished to spend a happy evening by the shore of the loch.  Long, long afterwards, the passers-by often heard the sound of pipe music, muffled and far away, coming from the Fairy Knowe; but the hidden piper was never seen.  When long absent friends returned to Rannoch and enquired about Sandy Sinclair, they were told that he had gone to be piper to the wee folk and had never come home again.”

The Fairy Knowe is the large prehistoric burial mound, neolithic in origin, found 1.08 miles (1.74km) west of the Fairy Well, above Bridge of Allan—and an absolute must to visit for any lovers of fairy lore!


  1. Fergusson, R. Menzies, Logie: A Parish History – volume 1, Alexander Gardner: Paisley 1905.
  2. Fergusson, R. Menzies, The Ochil Fairy Tales, David Nutt: London 1912.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments Scotland, Stirling – volume 2, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.
  4. Watson, Angus, The Ochils – Placenames, History, Tradition, Perth & Kinross District Libraries 1995.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Boat Stone, Blackford, Perthshire

Standing Stone (fallen): OS Grid Reference – NN 87202 07286

Getting Here

Fallen monolith in the grass

From Blackford on the north side of the A9, cross over and take the small B-road which quietly runs up and over Sheriffmuir towards Dunblane.  After a mile, keep your eyes keen for the approaching woodland on your right-hand side; for in the field just before the woods, you’ll see a patch of grass near the corner of the field with a long stone poking out of it. That’s it!

Archaeology & History

It seems that very little has been written about this monolith in any of the archaeology texts, but it’s ascribed locally to be a fallen standing stone.  The site’s described in Finlayson’s (2010) fine local megalith guide where he points out how it’s in line with other nearby standing stones at Gleneagles and the White Stone – and the line is damn close!

…and from another angle…

With a quartz vein running through it, the stone lays some thirteen feet long and was, at some time in the not-too-distant past, readied to be quarried, as evidenced by the chisel-marks cut into it, prior to the usual destruction. But this time, for some reason, someone must have come to the rescue and prevented its demise…thankfully…

The farmer annually cuts around the fallen stone, shaped like a long boat (hence the name), near the top corner of the field. It would have looked damn good when stood upright, standing about ten feet in height and visible for a good distance. But today it’s quite forlorn laid here, seemingly alone, in this quiet part of the country, and is probably only one of interest to hardcore megalithomaniacs amongst you!


  1. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Wester Biggs, Dunblane, Perthshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – NN 863 061

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25219
  2. Seven Stanes

Getting Here

From Dunblane, head out east up and along Glen Road up towards Sheriffmuir. Turn left at the junction of the Sheriffmuir Inn and keep going for about 3 miles, keeping your eyes peeled for the TV mast on the left-hand side of the road. 100 yards past this, you can park-up.  Walk down the road another 100 yards until you get to the next gate in the fence. According to Ordnance Survey, the circle is/was across the road from here.

Archaeology & History

Although local tradition and historical accounts tells of a circle of seven stones nearby, there’s little to be seen at the position shown on the OS-map. On one side of the road, just above the embankment, there are hardly any rocks at all to even remotely ascribe as being touched by humans – i.e., there’s nowt there!  On the other side of the road, close to the parking spot, we do find a small cluster of rocks, perhaps hinting at a cairn structure, and then another longer stone embedded in the embankment 20 yards further down – but even these ‘remains’ (if you could call them that) seem flimsy evidence indeed of any megalithic structure here.  There is also a small arc of small stones by the roadside in the same area — but even these would be stretching imagination into psilocybe realms to call them a stone circle!  So I’m not sure what’s happened here.  My gut feeling told me that the position of this ‘stone circle’ shown on the OS-map was wrong, but that some remains of it would be found nearby.  But that could be bullshit.

Nevertheless, there are what seems to be the remains of prehistoric walling and possible enclosures close by, so a greater examination and bimble in the heathlands here is on the cards in the coming weeks.  If anyone living close by has further information on this spot, or fancies walking back-and-forth through the boggy moors (it’s arduous and not for the faint-hearted) in search of such sites, lemme know!  I have the feeling that there’s more to be found along this stretch of countryside.

Whether this site was the “druidical circle” mentioned in the Old Statistical Account of Scotland “in the heights of Sheriffmuir,”(vol.3, p.210), or the lost Harperstone Circle, we cannot be sure.  But an early account of this lost circle was written in John Monteath’s (1885) collection of Dunblane folktales.  He told:

“About two miles south-west of the village of Blackford, on the Sheriff-muir road, and near to the farm-house of Easter-Biggs, is an arch of stones, seven in number, called the “Seven Stanes,” varying from perhaps a ton to two tons each. One of these is of a round prismatical shape, and stands in an erect position. Beside these lies a large bullet of stone, called “Wallace’s Puttin’ Stane,” and he is accounted a strong man who can lift it in his arms to the top of the standing one, which is about four feet high, – and a very strong man who is able to toss it over without coming in contact with the upright one.  At one time few were to be found of such muscular strength as to accomplish this – not so much from the actual weight of the stone itself, as from the difficulty of retaining hold of it, it being very smooth and circular. This difficulty, however, was obviated about seventy years ago, by the barbarous hand of a mason, to enable himself to perform the feat, since which time a person of ordinary strength can easily lift it…”

It would seem there are or were additional prehistoric sites scattering the eastern edges of the Ochils within a few miles of each other along this ridge, as several accounts from both local newspapers and learned journals talk of a number of places, of differing dimensions.  The lost Harperstone Circle is a case in point; and another ‘circle’ mentioned by A.F. Hutchison in 1890, measuring just “10 – 12ft in diameter, of 5 or 6 stones, each about 2ft high” (probably a small cairn circle) differs from Monteath’s description on the Wester Biggs ring.


In Monteath’s (1885) account of local Dunblane traditions, the following narrative was given which local people held dear as a truthful statement of these ancient stones:

“Some antiquaries might suppose the ‘Seven Stanes’ to have been, in former times, a Druidical place of worship; but tradition contradicts this, in a manner so distinct and pointed, that none, in anyway acquainted with the connection which, in Scotland in particular, exists between oral testimony and written records, but must be struck with the plausibility of the story which tradition affords…

“The “Seven Stanes” then, instead of being the remains of a Druidical place of worship, tradition informs us, are intended to commemorate a glorious victory obtained by an army of Scottish patriots under Wallace over an English army 10,000 strong, who were taken by surprise and cut to pieces. Wallace, who was not less remarkable for the celerity of his movements than the strength of his arm, determined not only to intercept it, but formed, at the same time, the most daring plan of cutting off their retreat, as if already assured of victory. For this purpose he divided his brave followers into three divisions; one of which he dispatched in the night to the “Seven Stanes” – another was stationed at the Blackhill of Pendreigh, to fall upon the rear – and Wallace himself, with his division, lay on the Muir of Whiteheadston.”


  1. Hutchinson, A.F., “The Standing Stones of Stirling District,” in The Stirling Antiquary, volume 1, 1893.
  2. Monteath, John, Dunblane Traditions, E. Johnstone: Stirling 1885.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Pendreich (1), Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NS 81244 99236

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 47127

Getting Here

Pendreich-1 cairn, with Dumyat in the east

Up, round the back of Stirling University, between Bridge of Allan to Greenloaning, take the steep zigzaggy Sheriffmuir Road uphill, until it levels out beyond the main wooded area where the hills open up on either side of you.  There’s a little touristy parking spot further along the road, just below a small wooded bit.  Keep going on the road for another ¾-mile, until you reach a small scattered copse of trees on your left. At the top of this copse, walk onto the moor on your left (west), following the old walling for more than another 500 yards, where a scatter of old trees live by the wallside.  As this bends back downhill, note the rounded hill less than 100 yards above you (north).  Go to the top of it!

Archaeology & History

There are several cairns hereabouts; yet despite several visits here, we still haven’t got round to checking them all out, as other little-known archaeological remains keep catching our attention (old walled structures and a possible enclosure).  This is the most notable one of the bunch in the region — and easiest to find thanks to it being on top of the small hill where, many years ago indeed, was laid this small round rocky tomb of some long-dead chief, or granny, or someone!

There’s not been much written about this cairn, or its companions (Pendreich 2 & 3).  It was referred to in the Scottish Royal Commission inventory for Stirlingshire (1963) where it’s listed as site no.3 as ‘Cairn, Sheriffmuir Road’, but their description is scant.  They wrote:

“On a low ridge 800 yards WSW of spot-level 776 on the Sheriffmuir Road, and at a height of 800ft OD, there is a round cairn measuring 40ft in diameter and 2ft 8in maximum height.  For the most part it is covered with grass, but a shallow depression in the centre, which may have been caused by excavation, reveals a few boulders.”

Pendreich cairn, looking west
Exposed section of cairn
Exposed section of cairn

Indeed!  This cut into the centre of the cairn is somewhat larger than the 1963 description implies, as one of the images here shows.  But the grassy mound is pretty clear and there’s certainly something buried beneath here.

The views from here are excellent and gave the spirits the usual panoramic flights across the land, as at many other ancient tombs.  The great pyramidal hill of Dumyat rises to the east; and just a few hundred yards away to the north, we find the long laid-out standing stone of Pendreich Muir, whose mythic history has all-but been forgotten…


  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments Scotland, Stirling – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Harperstone Circle, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

‘Stone Circle’:  OS Grid Reference – NN 838 032

Archaeology & History

An intriguing entry inasmuch as we don’t know the full history and nature of the site.  Whether this site was the “druidical circle” mentioned in the 1791 Old Statistical Account of Scotland ” upon the heights of Sheriffmuir,”(vol.3, p.210), we cannot be sure.  The site was certainly described by Mr Hutchinson (1893) more than a century ago as a “stone circle”, but earlier still in a short piece in the Stirling Journal of May 5, 1830.  It read:

“About eight miles from Stirling by the Sheriffmuir Road, near a place called Harperstone, there is a remarkable circle of stones, supposed to have been a druidical place of worship of old.  The site of this circle is rather uncommon in this country — being on the back summit of a high hill, one of the Ochils called the Black Hill, and exposed to every wind that blows.  It is about two english miles south of the present roadway.”

The writer’s notes then told of some curious finds by this circle, giving the impression that it may have had another function: perhaps a cairn of sorts; perhaps an ancient building — we may never know.  Nevertheless, his information is intriguing.

“Tradition records two remarkable circumstances connected with this druidical circle, which may perhaps be worthy of being preserved.  About the middle of last century (c.1750) there were dug up at the foot of the larger stones three vessels of clay of antique shapes, containing coins of very ancient date, which were long preserved by Monteath of Park, but are now, we regret to say, lost.  So late as 1770, these coins were, it is said, to be seen at Park House, all of gold.  About the year 1715, some stones on which had been engraved inscriptions were dug up at the same place; and at a previous period specimens of ancient Pictish armour were dug up from the bowels of this hill, which had been carefully deposited of yore some feet below the surface in crypts of curious description.”

When Mr Hutchinson came to explore this region in search of the stone circle, his nose took him to a site a few hundred yards north of nearby Harperstone Farm, where he found a large stone:

“It is 9 feet long by 6 feet across on the top, is 3 feet thick and measures 26 feet round.   This appears to have been a centre stone, and a surrounding circle is traceable more or less distinctly — moreso to the west and north, less so to the east and south.  The radius of the circle is about 15 yard, and a similar distance separates each of the larger stones yet traceable in the circle.  The ground beside the great central stone appears to have been excavated…”

Black Hill, Sheriffmuir, looking east
Arc of 3 stones in large ellipse

But it would seem that Hutchinson’s site and the one described in the Stirling Journal of 1830 are two distinctly separate items if their relative topographical descriptions are to be accepted.  No doubt — like many a-local who’s found these same written accounts — when we visited and wandered back and forth over the Black Hill site in Autumn 2010, we were as puzzled as others before us in finding nothing on the named Black Hill.  Nothing that could remotely be viewed as the circle described was anywhere in evidence.  The only thing that we found of any potential was on the flat below the southern ridge of the hill, heading towards the small copse of trees, where is a possible ring of seven stones, albeit a low one, in an ellipse formation.  The ground was much overgrown and a spring of water emerged from the edge of where might have been an eighth stone.  The photo shown here was the best we could get of the site.  It’s unlikely to be the place which Messrs Hutchinson and company wrote about.

A more detailed examination of the landscape around this ‘Harperstone Circle’ is needed.


  1. Hutchinson, A.F., “The Standing Stones of Stirling District,” in The Stirling Antiquary, volume 1, 1893.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Wallace’s Stone, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

Standing Stones / Stone Row:  OS Grid Reference – NN 83259 02293

Also Known as:

  1. Lairhill Stones

Getting Here

Follow the same directions as to reach the cup-marked Sheriffmuir Carving, which is just a coupla hundred yards away to the southwest.  On a clear day you can see this standing stone from the pub by the roadside, a few hundred yards away!

Archaeology & History

Wallace Stone (photo credit – James Elkington)

This is alleged to be just one standing stone in a straight line of five once-upright monoliths.  Starting at the southwestern end of this row we have the 7ft-long cup-marked Sheriffmuir Carved stone — which certainly looks as if it stood upright in the not-too-distant past — and as we move up the line we pass another that’s been split in half.  Another earthfast-looking rock is the next contender, before we reach our famous Wallace Stone, standing upright and proud on this moorland ridge.  It’s about 6ft tall and 3ft across at its widest and certainly acts as a marker for the line of stones that allegedly stood upright here.  And if we walk just a bit further up we have another big stone laid on the ground which is alleged to be a part of the same alignment.

The split stone (photo credit – James Elkington)

If it is an authentic megalithic row, it’s not included in either the Thoms’ (1990) two-volume work on the subject, nor Aubrey Burl’s (1996) compendium a few years later.  And though the alignment looks good, I’ve found ones just like this in the Pennines where we have just one upright left and then a line of other seemingly prostrate stones running dead straight either side of the singular upright (and have kept mi gob shut about ’em for sensible reasons), so I’m not too sure what to think.

But, alignment aside, the Wallace Stone itself is a damn good standing stone and well worth checking out.  It’s highly probable that other prehistoric remains still lurk, undiscovered, amidst these heaths…like the lost stone circle to be found nearby…


A slight variation on a theme about this spot:  in both accounts the stone was named after the legendary Scottish independence fighter, Sir William Wallace.  The folklore tells that he and his fighting clans gathered here in 1297 preceeding the Battle of Stirling Bridge; whilst the variation tells that the stone here was actually erected around that time to commemorate the event.  This tale was first narrated by a local story-teller called Blind Harry and was found by local historian A.F. Hutchinson (1893) to be a case of mistaken identity!


  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish: The Prehistoric Stone Rows and Avenues of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Heggie, Douglas C., Megalithic science: ancient mathematics and astronomy in north-west Europe, Thames & Hudson: London 1981.
  3. Hutchinson, A.F., “The Standing Stones and other Rude Monuments of Stirling District,” in Transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 1893.
  4. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Stirling District, Central Region, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1979.
  5. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, B.A.R.: Oxford 1990.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks as always to James Elkington for use of his photos in this site profile – prints of which are available from the man himself!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian