Along the A822 road between Dunkeld and Milton, 4.7 miles (7.6km) west of the A9, turn left down the track signposted ‘Meikle Findowie’. About 700 yards along the track you reach modernised farmhouse and here, on your left, a track takes you east. You’ll notice some ruins a couple of hundred yards along. The standing stone is by its side.
Archaeology & History
Beside the old trackway that runs east-west past Meikle Findowie, above the ancient flood-plain of the breathing River Braan, a solitary stone lives by the more modern shadow of old sheep-folds. Tis a quiet little fella, less than 5 feet tall, that you could almost pass as a forgotten gatepost if you chattered when walking by. But it’s much more ancient than any old gate…
It nestles below the old hill of Airlich, with its beautiful stone circle and huge ancient enclosures higher up: a chunky old stone with no carvings or other human marks upon it. Tis a site site worth visiting before heading uphill, to the megalithic ring of enchantment.
Acknowledgements: Huge thanks as always to Paul Hornby for getting us to this site.
Take the same directions to reach the impressive Carn Ban prehistoric tomb. From here, walk along the winding track past the giant cairn onto the moors for about 350 yards, until the track goes dead straight and heads NNW uphill. Walk up here for another 350 yards keeping your eyes peeled on the rounded pyramidal hill with the large rock on top. The circle is 20 yards off the track as you head up to the pyramidal hill stone.
Archaeology & History
Although this site is mentioned in notes by the Scottish Royal Commission and highlighted by Ordnance Survey, information thereafter is pretty scarce. Which is surprising when you check this place out first-hand. It’s bloody impressive! David Cowley (1997) describes the area, but not in much detail.
Northern arc of walling
Eastern arc of walling
The circle seems to have been rediscovered first of all by the dowser J. Scott Elliott (1964), who thought it was a cairn circle – which is understandable. However, it has been classified by the Royal Commission lads as a “hut circle”, so we’ll stick with that for the time being.
An entrance to the circle doesn’t stand out. There may be one on the southeastern side, but this isn’t clear; and what looked like a possible entrance on its northern edge was discounted, as a larger stone blocked this on the outside. There was no immediate evidence of any internal structure, no hearth, no tomb – merely a small stone at its centre, deeply embedded in the peat. This may, however, cover a central cist – which would make this a cairn circle and not a large hut circle. But that’s guesswork on my behalf!
Never excavated, what we’ve got here is a very well-preserved, large ring of stones, more typical of Pennine and Derbyshire ring cairns than any standard hut circles. But this is Scotland we’re talking about! This impressive ring measures outer-edge to outer-edge 12 yards in diameter (north-south), by 11 yards (east-west), with the stone walling that defines the ring being between 3 and 4 feet across all round, and between 1-2 feet high. And it’s in damn good nick! More similar in structure to the likes of Roms Law, a number of notably large stones define the edges, but many hundreds of smaller packing stones build up the ring walls. Of the larger rocks in the ring, the most notable one is a large white quartz crystal stone on its NNE side.
Quartz rock reflects the sun, looking W
It’s an impressive site whatever it may be! – in very good condition for its age (Bronze Age by the look of it) and, whilst still visible above the heather, well worth checking out if you like your stone circles and prehistoric rings. The small prehistoric graveyard 30-40 yards south and east, plus the extensive settlement systems all over these moors are all worth exploring if you visit this place.
Cowley, David C., “Archaeological Landscapes in Strathbraan,” in Tayside & Fife Archaeological Journal, volume 3, 1997.
Scott-Elliot, J., “Kinloch House, Amulree,” in Discovery & Excavation in Scotland, 1964.
Scott-Elliot, J., Dowsing – One Man’s Way, Neville Spearman: London 1977.
Take the A826 road south out of Aberfeldy, uphill, till you reach the White Cairn or Carn Ban, then follow the dirt-track for 700 yards onto the moors until you reach the Glen Cochill Circle 1. From here, look at the large stone atop of the very notable rounded hillock barely 50 yards east (at NN 90367 41478) and meander on the slopes immediately below it on the south and west. If the heather’s grown back, you don’t stand a chance!
Archaeology & History
As far as I’m aware, despite there being some brief notes of cairnfields in and around the rich prehistoric arena of Glen Cochill, I can find no data indicating that the five small single cairns a short distance south and southeast of the Glen Cochill Ring (01), have been described before.
Cairn 1 – looking north
Cairn 2 – looking north
Deeply embedded into the peat, they are only visible when the heather has been burnt away, as highlighted in the accompanying photos. Each cairn is of roughly the same size and structure: 2-3 yards across and only a couple of feet above ground-level, consisting of the traditional small rounded stones, each probably constituting a single burial or cremation.
Cairn 4, below the hilltop rock
Of at least five cairns that we found here (there may be others beneath the covering heather), it was very notable that they’re on edges of a rounded pyramidal hillock, whose top is surmounted by a large pointed stone – probably a glacial erratic. We looked at this rock in the hope of finding some cup-markings, but there were none. However, it seemed as if the cairns and this crowning stone were related to each other, as if rites for the dead were proclaimed here for those in the tombs. It may sound silly, but go there and take a look at it yourselves – before the heather grows back. Just as a priests today, and shamans throughout history, have used an altar or plinth to make commemorations to the dead, so this crowning stone may equally have been used. It makes sense. And, as if to add validating ingredients: if we look east, past the crowning stone and across the River Cochill, we see the great rocks in the forest known as Creag a Bhaird, or the Crag of the Bard, from whence orations and tales were known to be told… But that’s another site with its very own story…
Acknowledgements: Once again, thanks must be given to Mr Paul Hornby for his help in finding these sites.
Along the A826 road south out of Aberfeldy, make your way towards the impressive giant Carn Ban of Glen Cochill. Nearly a mile past the cairn further down the road, keep yer eyes peeled for the straight line of walling reaching up onto the moors. About 100 yards before the wall, go over a ruined metal gate by the roadside up and onto the moor. Walk straight uphill for barely 50 yards until you’re on the level, then walk left for 50 yards or so again. Yer damn close!
Archaeology & History
3rd cupmark visible at bottom
Although this is a seemingly isolated carving, difficult to find and nowt much to look at, it is located in a region with massive amounts of prehistoric remains – much of it inadequately surveyed or not surveyed at all. Amidst a collection of more than a dozen unexcavated Bronze Age cairns, this small flat earthfast stone bears two standard cup-markings, with a possible third at its edge. It is not immediately connected with any of the nearby cairns.