Tullich, Glen Lochay, Killin, Perthshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5235 3684

Also Known as:

  1. Tirai West
  2. Tullich East
  3. Canmore ID 78043

Getting Here

The ‘stone circle’ of Tullich!

Go through Killin past the Bridge of Lochay pub, turning immediately down the small lane by its side.  After about 3 miles you’ll cross over the small river past Duncroisk.  Keep going for another few hundred yards (if you reach Tullich you’ve gone too far), watching out for the gate on your left.  Walk up to the top of this field, over the wall and up again.  You’ll see a couple of tall trees with distinctive walling next to them, just on a ridge above you.  That’s where you’re heading!

Archaeology & History

This is a fine-looking example of a prehistoric enclosure, perched on the edge of one of the grassy knolls on the far western extremities of the deserted village of Tirai.  If you walk towards it from the derelict village east of here, the elliptical form of the site gives you the distinct impression that you’ve just chanced upon a seemingly unknown stone circle nestled upon the edges of this gorgeous Scottish glen; but this initial excitement is soon dispelled once you get into the heart of the site!

Southern line of walling
Looking east

Although you’ll find a couple of derelict post-medieval buildings on the western side of this structure, the lay-out of this monument would seem to be Iron Age origin, perhaps earlier.  It certainly has all the hallmarks of a walled structure from that period and typifies many others that I’ve explored down the years.

The eastern and southern sections of the walls are in very good states of preservation, although the ground has obviously grown up and around the bases of the stonework.  It has a total outer circumferences of about 95 yards (87m), with the many upright stones measuring between 12 inches to more than 3 feet in height.  The western section of the enclosure is mostly overgrown but easily traced on foot.  Near the centre of the site is a large flattish stone that gave the impression of having an oratory function from where one could speak to the rest of the people sat around the inner edges of the enclosure — but this was a purely subjective impression.

NE sections of enclosure
Outer section & ‘standing stone’

On the southern side of the elliptical structure is another, outer line of walling, or a stone alignment of some sort just a few yards long, consisting of just a few upright stones — one of which stands considerably taller than all the others hereby, giving the impression of a standing stone.  It has a large natural cup-marking on its southern face.

To my limited knowledge there’s been no excavations here, so one wonders whether or how or if the people of Tirai made use of this much earlier building.  The Canmore entry of the place tells:

“The N side of this enclosure is a low turf and stone bank of height 0.3m and is 20m long, spread to about 1.2m. The E side is outlined by large stones set on edge with no evidence of intermediate stone walling or turf. A bank of similar more continuous stone extends to the W from the S of the main enclosure down sloping ground. This type of walling is different from any other on Tirai. The large stones set on end have suggested a prehistoric date for this enclosure.”

References:

  1. Johnstone, A. & Wood, S., “Tirai (Killin Parish), Pre-Enclosure Settlements,” in Discovery & Excavation in Scotland, 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Tullich enclosure

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Tullich enclosure 56.500442, -4.400235 Tullich enclosure

Tirai, Glen Lochay, Perthshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5308 3670

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24172

Getting Here

Standing stones of Tirai
Standing stones of Tirai

From Killin, travel down Glen Lochay, past Stag Cottage or Duncroisk and over the shallow river of Allt Dhun Croisg.  If you’re in a car you can park up a 100 yards past the river bridge and walk up the track from here.  After a 10 minute walk, above the trees you come to the derelict village of Tirai* where, until recently, you were greeted by a tall totem-pole of a gnarled tree (it was superb!) which is now Earth-lain, and a fine view of the evolving hills.  Here amidst the ruins we also find a standing stone or two.

Archaeology & History

The village of Tirai was deserted sometime in the 19th century (due to the disgusting clearances of the English), but at least two standing stones still live amidst its ruins.  The tallest is nearly four-feet tall in the middle of the grassy patch and is much used by grateful cattle to rub themselves against when midges and horseflies drive them mad!  The Scottish Royal Commission lads reckon the megaliths here are,

“possibly a survivor of a stone circle as a similar stone is used nearby as a gate-post to an enclosure and several other large stones have been incorporated in the walls of the surrounding buildings.”

This may well be so – but it is equally possible that these are merely the remains of standing stones which once stood along this ridge and which were taken for use in the village.

One of the Tirai standing stones
One of the Tirai standing stones

Of the remaining standing stones in this idyllic setting – the Royal Commission fellas counted possibly four of ’em – all are roughly the same size, between 3 and 4 feet high.  Johnstone & Wood (1996) also think the stones here may once have related to a prehistoric cairn in the village.

This is an utterly beautiful arena, even in the heights of winter.  The village sits on the rear slopes behind the old cailleach, and there are plenty of cup-and-ring carvings, both known and unknown scattering the rocks and nearby hills.  The curious Duncroisk Crosses carving is just visible from here, on the other side of the rocky gorge.  Lost tales and lost sites abound here also.  I did sit and wonder though… Considering that the villagers here left the old standing stones in place until very recent centuries at the heart of their hamlet, what uses did they make of it, or what tales did it speak?  Or had the purge of the Church already taken its toll…?

References:

  1. Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.
  2. Johnstone, A.S.K. & Wood, J.S., ‘An Archaeological Field Survey of Deserted Townships at Tirai, Glen Lochay, Killin,’ Association of Certificated Field Archaeologists (Glasgow University) Occasional Paper no 9 (1996).

* The place-name Tirai means ‘land of good luck or joy,’ which truly speaks well of its spirit and setting to me.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Tirai stones

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Tirai stones 56.499373, -4.388252 Tirai stones