Beltane Well, Kenmore, Perthshire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – NN 7867 4725

Also Known as:

  1. An Tobar
  2. Holy Well of Inchadney

Getting Here

An Tobar, or Beltane Well, on the 1867 map

An Tobar, or Beltane Well, on the 1867 map

From Kenmore village on the north-side of the river, over the bridge, take the small road on your right towards Dull.  After a very short distance the road runs alongside the woodland for nearly 1½ miles until, on your left, you’ll reach Drummond Cottage.  Across from here a dirt-track takes you into the trees.  Barely 100 yards along, watch for the overgrown path that runs down the slope on your left.  At the bottom a small stream has several feeds – one of which is surrounded by a ring of bright quartz stones.

Archaeology & History

Shown on the early Ordnance Survey maps as An Tobar (meaing simply “a well”), this somewhat nondescript title betrays a much more colourful folk history, albeit dissolved by those common culprits of Church and disrespectful incomers (which shows little sign of diminishing).

Lara by the Well

Lara by the Well

Close-up of quartz surround

Close-up of quartz surround

In the field immediately south, back up the slope above the well and through the trees, was once an ancient church whose existence has all but vanished.  Hereby was held an ancient fair known as Feill nam Bann Naohm, or the Fair of the Holy Women, named after a group of nuns whose lived here, who William Gillies (1938) and others proclaim were the legendary Nine Maidens, whose dedications at wells, trees and other sites scatter Scotland. But the fair was ended in 1575 and moved to Kenmore; then, several years later in 1579, the church also moved onto Eilean nam Ban Naomh (NN 7664 4536) on Loch Tay.

The old well however, after being left by the descendants of the Holy Women or Nine Maidens, continued to be frequented by local people.  Gillies (1938) wrote:

“The Holy Well of Inchadney is situated at the foot of the terrace, about five hundred yards to the north of the churchyard… Up to the middle of last century the well used to be visited by great numbers of people on the morning of Bealtuinn, the first day of May.”

In Ruth & Frank Morris’ survey (1981) they told how the site had become much overgrown and,

“The well was cleaned out in 1914 and among articles found was a stone 21 inches by 16 inches, with a rude St Andrew’s cross scratched on it, a George III farthing among other copper coins, a rudely made stone cup 2½ inches high and 7 inches in diameter, three metal buttons, a glass bead and six pins.”

No such offerings seemed in evidence when we visited a few weeks ago; but we were told that people are still seen visiting the well.

Looking down into the pure waters

Looking into the pure waters

A small stone-laid footpath runs towards the adjacent burn from the circular well, which is almost completely surrounded by large quartz rocks.  In the well itself was a small fish, showing how clean the waters are—or as would be deemed in times of olde: a ‘guardian’ of the waters.

We must also make note of the fact that, just two fields away to the north, according to the antiquarian Fred Coles (1910), a stone circle was once in evidence.  This old well sat neatly between the sites of megalithic ring and church.

Folklore

In the field in front of the well, Hilary Wheather (1982) told that there once lived a legendary water bull, but she lamented on his passing.  With the coming of the modern-folks and their unnatural ways,

“and having great timber lorries rumbling past your home every day is no fun for a peace-loving waterbull living in Poll Tairbh, the Bull’s Pool opposite the Holy Well.  Gone are the days when he was the revered Spirit of the Meadow, passed with trembling and fear by all the young maids of the Parish lest he should jump out and carry them off to his watery lair. Half the calves of the area were sired by him and it was always easily seen which cow had the attentions of the Great Waterbull.  Her calf was always the biggest and the best.  But he hasn’t been seen by his pool for many a year…”

The waters are cited by Geoff Holder (2006) to be good for toothache.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire (Aberfeldy District),” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 44, 1910.
  2. Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.
  3. Holder, Geoff, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire, History Press 2006.
  4. McHardy, Stuart, The Quest for the Nine Maidens, Luath Press: Edinburgh 2003.
  5. Miller, Joyce, Magic and Witchcraft in Scotland, Goblinshead: Musselburgh 2010.
  6. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
  7. Wheater, Hilary, Kenmore and Loch Tay, Appin Publications: Aberfeldy 1982.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks to the bunch who got us here:  to Paul Hornby, Nina Harris, Aisha Domleo & Lara Domleo (ooh – and Leo too!).

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.601379, -3.977933 Beltane Well

St. David’s Well, Weem, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NN 8445 5002

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25672
  2. Chapel Rock Spring
  3. Fuaran Creig a’ Chaibeul
  4. St. Cuthbert’s Well

Getting Here

In the dark, dark wood... hides St. David's Well
In the dark, dark wood… hides St. David’s Well

The best way to find this site, in the middle of the large woods up the slopes, is to follow the circular mile-long tourist path that runs through it. Take the B846 road out of Aberfeldy over the bridge towards Dull and Weem.  As you go through Weem, watch closely for the signpost directing you into the trees of Weem Rock and Woods on the right. Follow this tiny road up until you reach the parking circle in the edge of the trees.  Follow the directed footpath up into the woods & keep to the winding track, up, zigzagging, and up again, until it levels out a bit and runs below the large long crags. Tis beneath here you need to be!

Archaeology & History

The pool of St David's Well
The pool of St David’s Well

Not far from the curious Weem Wood carvings, hidden beneath one section of the long high crags in remains of the ancient forest, is this trickle of fresh water which collects into a small stone-lined pool. (a small round plaque which reads ‘St. David’s Well’ on the cliff-face above the waters is helpful) It’s in a truly lovely setting, with a small ‘cave’ about 50 yards west along the same footpath and a modern carved ‘cross’ in front of it.

The well was formerly known as St. Cuthbert’s Well (date: 20 March) who, so legend tells, lived nearby—probably at the christian-druid college at Dull, a mile west of here. It was he who collected the waters from the rock face into the small pool we see today.  This used to be known as St. Cuthbert’s Bath.  But several centuries after the saint’s death, the local laird, Sir David Menzies, came and restored the well and gained a reputation for spending much time living hereby, sometimes in the small cave along the edge of the cliffs.  It was to him that the New Statistical Account wrongly dedicated the waters to in the 19th century—but the title has stuck!

Described in several old local history works, the site was included in the giant folklore tome on Scottish waters by MacKinlay (1893), who wrote the following:

“In the wood clothing the steep hill of Weem, in Perthshire, is St. David’s Well, said to be named after a former laird who turned hermit.  The spring has a considerable local fame, and many have been the wishes silently breathed over its water.  Part of an ancient stone cross lies at its margin, and on it the visitor kneels while framing his or her wish.”

Nothing of this ‘cross’ can now be seen, but it is said that its remnants are housed at Weem church in the village below.  Also in the 19th century, occasional christian gatherings were held here and as many as fifty people came “for religious services.” Thomas Hunter (1886) reported that “a collection of human bones” were found near the well in front of the crags. There is also what looks like a newly cut large cup-marking with two carved lines reaching out from it, heading towards the well, on a small ledge of stone close to the pool.

Folklore

Folklore tells that once, long ago, dragons lived in these old woods—overcome no doubt by the incoming christians who stole and denigrated the olde peasant ways of our ancestors.  In bygone times, locals used the waters here for their health-giving properties.  As Ruth and Frank Morris (1982) told,

“it was an ancient wishing well which was still visited in 1954, when such objects as pins and buttons and an occasional penny was thrown in.”

References:

  1. Ferguson, Malcolm, Rambles in Breadalbane, Thomas Murray: Glasgow 1891.
  2. Hunter, Thomas, Illustrated Guide to Perthshire, Robertson & Hunter: Perth 1886.
  3. MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
  4. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

St David's Well

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St David\'s Well 56.627695, -3.885369 St David\'s Well

Weem Woods, Dull, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

‘Cup-and-Ring’ Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NN 841 499

Getting Here

Looking out from the Weem Wood carved rocks
Looking out from the Weem Wood carved rocks

Take the B846 road out of Aberfeldy over the bridge towards Dull and Weem.  As you go through Weem, watch closely for the signpost directing you into the trees of Weem Rock and Woods on the right. Follow this tiny road up until you reach the parking circle in the edge of the trees.  Follow the directed footpath up into the woods & keep to the winding track, keeping your eyes peeled for the first large rocky crag above you, with a huge tree growing out of the edge. Once you get to the top of the steps and onto these crags, look right in front of you!

Archaeology & History

The nearest ‘officially recognised’ cup and ring carvings to the one we’re gonna see here, are those described by Kaledon Naddair (1990) in his brief descriptions of the Glassie Farm carvings a short distance northeast in the same woods.  Other than that, I can find no account of the carvings I’m about to describe – other than a couple of short local history walking guides, which tell that one of the carvings here is “modern.”  And that much is plainly evident.

Close-up of one section of the main design
Close-up of one section of the main design

There are at least seven carved stones here – all very close to each other on the top of an impressive crag with a large old tree growing out of the edge of the cliff.  But the carvings are located on the flat ground above the cliffs and, it would seem, may well be modern.  But I thought that since there are no accounts of the site on-line and no remarks in the Canmore registers, they should be mentioned as future students may mistake them as ancient.  There is the possibility (unless someone can show us otherwise) that one or two of them are prehistoric, but I think it’s best we surmise that they are all recent additions in the landscape for the time being.  And damn good designs they are too!

The triangular rock designs
The triangular rock designs

The first and most notable of the group of seven (at least), is on the large earthfast triangular flat rock, pointing out to the cliff’s edge and the hills across the valley.  This is where the greatest cluster of multiple cup-and-rings can be seen.  Double- and triple rings surround several of the central cup-markings, with the traditional lines running out from the central cup.  There are a great number of single cups scattering the surface; and we also find a typical ‘rosette’ element, comprised of a central cup surrounded by eight singular cups, which some students have interpreted as solar and lunar symbols (amongst other things) when found on other carvings (there is a prehistoric Rosette Stone is known on Ilkley Moor; but similar examples are known in Ireland, Northumberland and elsewhere).

Below this triangular rock (perhaps attached beneath the) is another long piece of earthfast stone, with more carvings on. But when Lindsey Campbell and I came here yesterday, it was obvious that some elements along this section of stone were carved in recent years.  Two double-cup-and-rings are at the bottom-left of this section of rock, with a scattering of other cup-marks reaching across its surface. Several of these are obviously quite new.

Another multiple cup-and-ring
Another multiple cup-and-ring

The third notable example is to the top-right of the triangular rock.  This stone is mainly of quartzite rock, apart from near the top-end, where another multiple cup-and-ring (four, with a possible fifth broken ring fading away) stand out very blatantly.  This carving also seems to be not that olde…

From this third quartz carving, look 10 yards (if that!) back towards the trees and there’s a large boulder.  On the surface of this is another multiple cup-and-ring that was very obviously new, and several other cup-markings, also quite new.  I presume that the other sections carved onto this stone have also been etched by the same modern artists.

Another boulder with new carvings
Another boulder with new carvings

As I looked back to the main triangular carved stone, I noticed other small pieces of stone peeking up from the ground and, upon closer inspection, found one small rounded triangular piece with another multiple cup-and-ring that just fit onto the rock.  And close by this was another long piece of stone which, when I rolled the turf gently back, found three simple cup-markings along the surface.

A seventh carving was found on one of the rocks that is falling slightly down the slope, close to the fourth ‘new’ carving that I described.  This was heavily covered in moss and autumn’s fallen leaves, and I wasn’t about to take the moss away just for the sake of my curiosity. But it was obvious that other cup-markings were on the sloping face of this large stone.

We’ll have to venture back here soon and get some better photos and, with any luck, find some old locals who can tell us when the carvings first appeared.  It’s quite a superb spot for a bimble, with the healing waters of St. David’s Well and his cave close by—and the woods were, so local legends tell, inhabited by dragons and good heathen creatures in centuries past.  But the proximity of the Druid school—formed by the Ionian druids no less—around the 6-7th century, may have thankfully preserved these old tales and relate to some of the many other monuments found in this area.  Although some of these carvings (possibly all) are of recent years, this is a gorgeous spot well worth exploring… And if anyone knows precisely when they were done – please let us know!

…to be continued…?

References:

  1. Naddair, Kaledon, “Rock Carvings (Weem Parish),” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1994.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Weem Woods CR

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Weem Woods CR 56.627112, -3.889796 Weem Woods CR

Duncroisk 2, Glen Lochay, Killin, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 53134 35850

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24169
  2. Duncroisk 3 (Canmore)

Getting Here

Cup-and-rings by the River Lochay
Cup-and-rings by the River Lochay

Troublesome to get to unless you’re reasonably fit.  Probably the easiest route is to get to the Duncroisk 3 cup-and-ring stone. Keep walking along the riverside, climb over the first tall wooden fence and onwards till you reach the rocky crag reaching into the river Lochay. By whichever means possible, get yourself up and round this crag, but keep by the riverside till you get to the easier walkable rocky outcrop protruding into the river on the other side of the drop.  Hereby, on one of the stones, look and you’ll find these faint cup-and-ring symbols.

Archaeology & History

Although this carving was first described in Edward Cormack’s (1952) essay on the prehistoric carvings of the district, they have subsequently proved difficult to locate by the Royal Commission lads and other archaeologists.  I’ve been here a few times looking for it and never managed to find it — until last week.  When Mr Cormack first told of the design, he said:

“On a smooth rock surface just above the mouth of the small burn running into the Lochay, immediately west of the cup-marked ridge, are two cup-and-ring markings a yard apart. The rings are curiously rough edged, and do not give the same impression of weathering as those on the ridge; possibly they have been silted over shortly after being cut, and exposed again relatively recently.”

Flambeau the Cat uses the carving as his bed!
Flambeau the Cat uses the carving as his bed!

A few decades later, Ron Morris (1981) came across the carving, 10 yards “southeast of an elbow of River Lochay”, as he put it. Described as “hard to find”, he went on to give a basic outline of the design as he saw them, telling there to be “2 cups-and-one-ring, both probably complete, up to 16cm (6in) diameters, with radial grooves from cup to ring—up to 1cm deep.” Or more simply, two cup-and-rings, each with a line running from the centre to the surrounding ring.

After trying to find this carving on several occasions, without success (somehow!), it was brought to my attention under the brilliant guidance of a local cat called Flambeau only last week (no lies!).  In a venture down to the riverside, the great cat (in tandem with Pip the dog, who also ventures out with me to find ancient sites in this region) got to the riverside on the rock in question and began rolling about in the dust on the stone, mewing and purring away merrily!  It was really brilliant to watch. Sincerely heart-warming (soz…but I can’t help it!).

Primary cup-and-ring at Duncroisk-2
Primary cup-and-ring at Duncroisk-2

I stepped over and complimented him as he looked superb (hence the photo, above) and he just kept purring. Then, curiously, he stood up and began scratching at the dried earth on the rock, mewing away whilst doing this.  Twas very odd indeed.  But there,  exactly where Flambeau has been scratching and rolling about, it seemed a faint cup-mark was apparent.  And such it was!  So I got on my knees and began cleaning away the dirt from the rock — and there, right where he’d been purring and playing, was the lost cup-and-ring carving!

Its location would suggest that the carving had some relationship with water: be that the spirit of the place; a good site where fish can be had; a place where someone had drowned, etc.  We’ll probably never know… But it’s a beautiful spot, with the impressive Stag Cottage carvings in the adjoining field, and the newly discovered Corrycharmaig East carvings on the other side of the river — plus many others in the area.

Folklore

The River Lochay where this carving is found is named after a dedication to the Black Goddess, according to Prof. W.J. Watson. (1926)  The stream by the side of the carving which runs into the River Lochay has been the place where faerie music has been heard by local people in times past.

References:

  1. Cormack, E.A., “Cross-Markings and Cup-Markings at Duncroisk, Glen Lochay,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 84, 1952.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Stirling District, Central Region, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1979.
  4. Watson, W.J., The History of the Celtic Place-names of Scotland, Edinburgh 1926.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.491724, -4.386943 Duncroisk (2)

Corrycharmaig East (4), Glen Lochay, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5311 3582  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

Cup-markings to top & bottom of stone
Cup-markings to top & bottom of stone

Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Corrycharmaig East 3 carving.  Walk off the rocky outcrop here, below the tree, and head diagonally across the boggy grasses back towards the River Lochay.  After about 50 yards you’ll see a rocky promontory ahead of you that overlooks the very edge of the river, with trees around it.  That’s the spot – right on the edge above the river!

Archaeology & History

Cup-markings on the Corrycharmaig East 4 stone
Cup-markings on the Corrycharmaig East 4 stone

For me, this was the most intriguing of the newly-found Corrycharmaig East carvings.  Intriguing because this is on the same geological ridge as that on which the brilliant Stag Cottage carvings are found, right across on the other side of the river.  That singular rise of rock emerging from the field, heading to the river, continues on this side — though is much less conspicuous here, and is much smaller and covered with olde trees and Nature’s marshy greenery.  It was this fact which led me to look at these rocks in the first place…wondering if our neolithic ancestors had continued etching their mythographies on the other side of the living waters.  And so it turned out.

But don’t expect anything like as impressive as the Stag Cottage carvings.  Here instead, as the photos show, are just five distinct cup-markings: three running along one line near the SE side of the stone, with another two on its NW side.  The cups are all roughly the same size, being a couple of inches across; one is an inch deep.  There may be more beneath the excess of mosses along this and the adjacent rocks, but I didn’t look.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.491427, -4.387345 Corrycharmaig East (4)

Corrycharmaig East (2), Glen Lochay, Perthshire

Cup-&-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5294 3588

Getting Here

Faint cup-and-ring of Corrycharmaig East 2
Faint cup-and-ring of Corrycharmaig East 2

Follow the directions as if you’re visiting the other Corrycharmaig carvings, but as you cross the bridge over the River Lochay, turn immediately left and follow the edge of the river down the field till you reach the fence.  Go over here, but then head up the slope away from the river, over another fence up the small grassy hill ahead of you.  As you near the very top of the hill, you’ll find the stone in question.

Archaeology & History

Small overgrown cairn 10 yards away
Small overgrown cairn 10 yards away

Found near to the famous Stag Cottage and Duncroisk carvings, this previously unknown example is found on a small rounded female stone, barely 2 feet by 2 feet across.  The most notable feature is the large cup-marking, 2-3 inches wide and half-and-inch deep.  When I first found the stone, twas a cloudy grey day and I wasn’t sure whether a small carved arc along one edge of the cup continued into a semi-circle — but as the photo here shows, the cup-mark seems to have a large faint ring going about three-quarters of the way round it.  Hopefully I’ll get some better images of the stone when I visit again in the coming weeks.

The stone gave the impression that it belonged in a cairn of sorts, but a brief rummage in the grasses immediately around the rock showed nothing.  However, barely 10 yards down the grassy slope there was a small overgrown cairn — though it didn’t seem to have that prehistoric pedigree about it.  This carving is one in a group of at least four others—including Corrycharmaig East 3—not previously catalogued.  It’s likely that more remain undiscovered on the many other rocks nearby.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.491986, -4.390138 Corrycharmaig East (2)

Allt Ghaordaidh, Glen Lochay, Killin, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5101 3807

Getting Here

Allt Ghaordaidh, looking north

One helluva climb to reach this little fella.  I simply started at Dalgirdy cottage, some 5 miles along Glen Lochay, on the right-hand side of the road.  Then, walk right up the burnside, all the way up until it begins to level out and the old shielings appear.  When you’ve got to where they just about finish, about 50-70 yards on the east side of the burn, you’ll see the small stone standing upright, all alone. You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Allt Ghaordaidh, looking south-ish!

No previous written records exist that describe this small standing stone, whose nature and age may be akin to that at nearby Tirai, found amidst the derelict village a couple of miles east, lower down the slopes — i.e., it may have simply been part of some of the ancient village remains and shielings found close by, either side of the rushing burn.  But whether it’s only medieval or much more ancient than that, its position in the landscape alone (much like Tirai’s uprights), deserves to be known about.

There are considerable amounts of ancient remains scattering the mountains slopes all round here: some have been catalogued, but a lot of it has not.  This little standing stone is at last alive again! (take good food and kit when visiting here)

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.511020, -4.422650 Allt Ghaordaidh

Duncroisk Enclosure, Glen Lochay, Killin, Perthshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – NN 5325 3607

Getting Here

D. MacInnes’ ground plan

Take the single-track Glen Lochay road down past the Bridge of Lochay hotel at the edge of Killin, as if you’re gonna visit the superb cup-and-ring carvings opposite Stag Cottage (or Duncroisk 1).  Immediately past the garden of Stag Cottage is a small copse of trees and a couple of old wartime-looking buildings in the field above the roadside.  Go up past these buildings and onto the rise at the back.  You’re here.

Archaeology & History

This is a fascinating site of multi-period historical usage, which Dugald MacInnes (2001) thinks may have its origins in the early Bronze Age or neolithic; but which I reckon was probably first used in the Iron Age.  Either way, we have here a large interesting well-preserved prehistoric stone enclosure, that has yet to be excavated.  I first came across it whilst gathering firewood from the adjacent copse and was quite puzzled by what seemed to be an extensive curved line of ancient walling running from its east to northeastern section, typical of prehistoric Iron Age walled structures common in northern England and beyond.  I must have paced back and forth along a 75 yard length of this section of walling a half-dozen times, wondering what the hell this place was.  And the more I looked at this section of the enclosure, the greater my conviction grew that this was constructed in prehistoric times.  And thereafter came the puzzle.

Looking down at the walled enclosure
NW section of walling

For along the southern walled section were a number of much more modern medieval and much later walled sections, including the remains of buildings that looked barely Victorian in age and nature.  The site was obviously being used presently by the local farmer for his cattle.  And so it became obvious that here was a large oval-shaped stone-walled enclosure or settlement that had been used over and over again through many centuries, with its origins seeming to be Iron Age in nature. Measuring approximately 195 yards (178m) in circumference, the structure has a maximum E-W diameter of 78 yards (71m) and N-S measurement of 44 yards (40m).

The mass of evidence for prehistoric activity is all round this hidden enclosure, with the fascinating clusters of cup-and-ring stones of Duncroisk and Corrycharmaig close by.  The small standing stones of Tirai 600 yards NW, and a similar prehistoric enclosure at Tullich ¾-mile NW show ample evidence of prehistoric man in this part of Glen Lochay.

Despite the size of the place, no literary reference of it occurs before MacInnes and his team came here.  His description is as follows:

“An oval enclosure, its boundaries formed principally from large water-worn boulders interspersed with drystone walling and in part by an earthen bank in the easternmost section, sits atop of a natural terrace about 155m OD.  The terrace slopes steeply to the west and south and cut into the western slope is a track, the course of which cannot be determined beyond the extent of the slope.  This track displays revetment in the form of stone coursing.

“The SW corner of the enclosure is angular rather than the rounded character of the other sections.  The W and SW sections are composed of coarsely constructed stonework in which large, 1m wide, often 1m high, water-worn boulders at two to three metre intervals, are interspersed with smaller boulders which form crude drystone coursing.

“The NE section is formed largely of large boulders, one of which is 1.5m in width and 1.2m high by 0.8m wide.  Sections of the northern part would appear to be robbed out, perhaps to construct the modern wall which lies about 25m to the north.  There are no remaining large boulders there, however, which could indicate their absence in the original construction of the enclosure.  The central section of the northern perimeter may be constructed of two outer skins of boulders, forming a wall about 0.9m wide, 0.4m high on its exterior, but reducing to 0.3m on its interior side.  Two sections could possibly be filled with a rubble core.

“The E section is formed by a low 0.3m high earthen grass-covered bank with occasional boulders.  This bank is about 0.2m high relative to the interior, but is about 0.5m to.0.8m high on its exterior side.  The NW side shows on the western side more evidence of double skin, rubble construction.  Close inspection of the stonework around the perimeter of the enclosure has revealed no evidence of shot-holes.  However a monolith situated in the NE has been split, but this would appear to be natural.  The interior of the enclosure is more or less level and grass-covered.  There is however, a slight drop in level in the western third of the interior.  This is defined by a linear slope which may be a lynchet.”

Northern section of enclosure
Upright stone in eastern wall

Northeast of the enclosure about 40 yards away is the normal drystone walling running along the sloping hillside.  But more intriguingly to archaeologists is the second line of much more ancient walling 76 yards (70m) further up the grassy slope, running at an angle across and uphill in a northwesterly direction.  This line of walling has a distinctly Iron Age flavour to it and is composed of some very large upright monoliths, almost Bronze Age in nature!  It continues into the next field for some 400 yards and onto Duncroisk Burn — the other side of which we find another line of ancient walling with an impressive cup-and-ring stone incorporated.

There’s tons more to be said of this region…

…to be continued…

References:

  1. MacInnes, Dugald, An Archaeological Field Survey of a Deserted Settlement at Duncroisk Farm, Glen Lochay, Association of Certified Field Archaeologists: Glasgow 2001.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.493759, -4.385335 Duncroisk enclosure

Duncroisk 6, Glen Lochay, Killin, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 53466 36485

Getting Here

Position of ‘Duncroisk 6’ cup-marked stone

Follow the same directions to reach the Duncroisk Crosses stone.  From here, look up the slope to your right and you’ll see the line of fencing running uphill.  Follow this until you reach the ruined remains of the old sheepfold building.  From here, look towards the tree-lined gorge of Duncroisk Burn, a few hundred yards west and walk towards it for about 50-60 yards.  There’s a group of three rocks hereby, two are large, but the carving’s on the smallest one in the middle.

Archaeology & History

This cup-marked stone was rediscovered as a result of the fine archaeological survey work by that Glasgow bunch of Certified Field Archaeologists, in their assessment of remains in and around Duncroisk Farm.  As well as mentioning — albeit briefly — the carvings of Duncroisk Farm and Duncroisk Crosses, Dugald MacInnes (2001) and his team came across another that hadn’t been recorded before.  Described in their survey as ‘feature 2’, he told,

“Some 20 metres downslope from the sheep fank and about 60 metres NW from it, there is a group of large boulders.  On the southeast sloping face of one of these there are three previously unrecorded cup-marks.  These are oriented vertically on a northeast to southwest alignment and are no more than 4cm apart.  They are all about 7cm in diameter and 2.5cm deep.”

The carved rock is a relatively small one sitting roughly in between two much larger rocks, both of which are easily visible from the Duncroisk Crosses stone less than 100 yards down the slope.  It’s probably only gonna be of interest to the rock-art purists among you and some may even question its veracity, particularly the bottom of the three cups, which gives the impression of being unfinished.  If you visit the site in summer and autumn it will be much harder to find, as it gets overgrown with bracken. (we did take a number of photos of this stone, but managed to somehow delete them all before saving to disk – so have gotta check it again when we next visit here)

References:

  1. MacInnes, Dugald, An Archaeological Field Survey of a Deserted Settlement at Duncroisk Farm, Glen Lochay, Association of Certified Field Archaeologists: Glasgow 2001.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Duncroisk (CR-6)

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Duncroisk (CR-6) 56.497548, -4.381984 Duncroisk (CR-6)

Dull Cross, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – NN 80710 49136

Also Known as:

  1. Cross of Dull
Dull cross (by Ferelith Molteno)

Getting Here

From Aberfeldy, take the B846 road over the river bridge, past Weem, a couple of miles down the valley until you see the small road on the right which leads up to the ancient hamlet of Dull.  Go up and round the corner until you reach the centre of the village; and here the road turns back downhill.  At this point, right by the roadside, entrapped within old railings, you’ll see the Cross of Dull.

Archaeology & History

Dull Cross behind bars
Dull Cross behind bars

Standing more than three feet tall, the remains of this old cross with one of its extended arms broke off in previous centuries, was one of three such monuments that used to stand in the valley.  This and its associates were, according to christian legend, placed as markers at an ancient centre of christian learning at Dull around the time of Adamnam (who died in Glen Lyon in 704 AD).  The area was said to be an early druid college, which was later incorporated into early christian teachings.  Hilary Wheater (1981) also told that in previous centuries, if anyone fell foul of the law,

“Within the boundaries of these crosses debtors, offenders or miscreants were protected from retribution.  One of the crosses stands in the centre of Dull village to this day, having been used as a market cross in more recent times, and the other two, having been stolen for use as gateposts during the (19th) century, were placed in the old kirk at Weem for safety.”

References:

  1. Stuart, John, The Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Aberdeen 1856.
  2. Wheater, Hilary, Aberfeldy to Glenlyon, Appin Publications: Aberfeldy 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.618838, -3.945546 Dull cross