St. Blane’s Well, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NN 781 015

Also Known as:

  1. Bruce’s Well

Archaeology & history

Very little is known about this long-lost site, mentioned just once in Alexander Barty’s (1944) standard history book on Dunblane.  Its exact location is difficult to cite with any certainty, although a ‘Well’ is marked on the 1862 OS-map not far from where Mr Barty proclaimed it to be:

“In the close known as Regent’s Square in Braeport, opposite the public school, was a well called Bruce’s Well and also St Blane’s Well, and probably water from this supplied a well in Cathedral Market Garden to the west.”

Position of St. Blane’s Well?

St Blane is a Celtic saint whom tradition says gave his name to the town and whose festival date is August 10.  In the area of the Allan Water St Blane was said to have set up his cell, which eventually became the prestigious ceremonial temple known as Dunblane Cathedral (although some evidence points to his original settlement being on the higher ground above the cathedral).  Originally born on the Isle of Bute around 565 CE, another St Blane’s Well can be found at Kingarth on his home island.

References:

  1. Armitage, Paul, The Holy Wells of Stirling and District, TNA 2019.
  2. Barty, Alexander B., The History of Dunblane, Eneas Mackay: Stirling 1944.
  3. Towill, Edwin Sprott, The Saints of Scotland, St Andrews Press 2012.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.190810, -3.964727 St Blane\'s Well

Knock Hill, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – NS 7825 9845

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 45987
  2. Gallow Hill

Getting Here

The snow-covered old fort

You can come here from either Dunblane to the north, or Bridge of Allan immediately south: either way you reach the site by going along the A9 road until you reach the Lecropt Church, a half-mile north of Bridge of Allan.  On the other side of the road is a somewhat battered wooden gate.  Go through here and up towards the tree-covered hill, following its edges to the right for a few hundred yards, until you come to another very large mound covered in trees.  That’s what you’re looking for!

Archaeology & History

Described on early OS-maps as a “Supposed Roman Camp,” this large fortified stone hillock has more recently been considered a creation of indigenous Scots.  Hemmed in and hidden on most sides, by the rises of Knock Hill to the west and Gallows Hill to the east, the only lines of visibility out of the fortress is along a northwest to southeast corridor, keeping the site quite secret to outsiders.  It would have been a fine place for a small community in ages not-so-long-ago, keeping the people hidden from the pestilent invasions of both Romans and english in bygone times.

The tree-clad fort, through blizzard

The large raised oval enclosure was walled around its sloping sides and edges, with remains of a walled embankment still visible running around the top of the slopes.  What may have been traces of hut circles were on top of the hillock until recent times, but these have been much reduced by some digging near the middle of the site.  It would appear that an ‘entrance’ was once visible on the southeastern side of the fort, but when we came here the other day, a lovely blizzard covered the place in snow, so this was difficult to see.

When the Royal Commission chaps came to visit the place in 1979, they didn’t really say much about the place, merely telling of its dimensions, saying:

“This fort measures 48m by 32m within the remains of a single rampart 4.5m thick and 1m high.”

I’m sure there must be much to be said of this lovely old site by local antiquarians, but I haven’t found much as yet.  But if you’re wanting a nice quiet spot to sit for a while on the outskirts of Stirling and Dunblane, I’d heartily recommend visiting this place.  Badgers and deer also seem to like the place!

References:

  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Stirling District, Central Region, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1979.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  56.163164, -3.962214 Knock Hill

White Stone, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 8063 0420

Also Known as:

  1. Glenhead
  2. MacGregor Stone
  3. NN80SW 3 (Canmore)
  4. Whittieston Stone

Getting Here

If you’re not into the walk, get the bus running NE between Dunblane and Greenloaning — the A9 — getting off at the Little Chef on the dual carriageway and cross the road, walking up the track to Upper Whiteston Farm (the owners here are very helpful).  As you walk up the track you’ll notice the large upright in the edge of the field a coupla hundred yards to your right.  That’s the one!

Archaeology & History

This is a mightily impressive site if you’re into yer megaliths!  When it was visited and measured by Mr Hutchinson (1893) in the 19th century he found it to be 9ft 4 in tall; and although it seems quite isolated at first sight, we find that there is another large stone companion laid down not far to the north of here which may have had some relationship with it .  But that aside…  There are also as many as eight cup-markings on the stone’s eastern face: one large one and seven smaller ones, in no particular order as usual!  It was these cup-marks that gave me the impression there was once a burial associated with the stone, but the archaeology records seem silent on such a matter; though folklore tradition tells another story…

Folklore

Mr Hutchinson (1893) told that the legend attached to this stone appears to be “of quite recent date.”  He said how,

“In the district the stone is known as the MacGregor Stone, and the tradition accounting for the name is to the effect that here a countryman was sacrificed by the followers of Rob Roy, when forming for the engagement on Sheriffmuir, in order to satisfy the ancient Highland superstition that first-blood was an infallible omen of success… The tradition is precise enough to state that a man of the name Dawson was seized in the adjoining hamlet of Whiteheadston (for such is the orignal name) as a whig, and therefore a foeman and proper victim.  Dawson, however, suspecting the intentions of the captors, vehemently professed himself a supporter of King James and was left off.  But another inhabitant of the hamlet not so acute or not so hypocritical, was immolated at the stone.”

Hutchinson however, doubts the accuracy of the tale and suggests that the local name of the MacGregor’s Stone derives from the fact that the monolith stands upon land once owned by the MacGregors of Balhaldies, countenancing that the stone “is of much earlier date than the MacGregors of Balhaldie or any other sept of the Children of the Mist.”  I think he’s got a point!

References:

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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.215399, -3.926414 White Stone