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Scottish Megarak Meet report - 1st June 2003
For once, I was the first to arrive at a Megarak meet - possibly something to do with having agreed to pick up Andy on the way. We turned into the car park in Crieff at ten to ten, on a gloriously sunny morning. Andy stepped from the car and donned his hat, the rallying signal. Almost immediately, Milgi appeared as if from nowhere, and after a round of introductions and swapping of various stories, we enjoyed the sunshine and waited. Not for long, though as we were treated to the sight of Martin driving round and round the car park, trying desperately to establish where he was by use of the dashboard GPS... He made it eventually, and again we waited to see who else might show. We waited... and waited... and at half past ten, decided that we appeared to be all who were coming. A quick decision to use one car (the big red beast) and off we went to Crieff Golf Course, first site visit of the day.
Ferntower is the remains of a four poster with outliers, and lies off the second fairway, called (with the usual stunning originality) Druid's. Dropping the name of the club secretary and muttering something about an archaeological survey, we bull-shitted our way onto the course, astounding several golfers due to our markedly non-golfing attire. The stones are interesting, and one has a small cup mark which we endeavoured to photograph. Canmore disputes the height of the main stone, so Milgi demonstrated the professional archaeologist's approach to such matters, much to our amusement.
Back to the car and we headed for the Sma' Glen, where there are a couple of interesting sites. The Giant's Grave is a large stone, perhaps an erratic, which is variously described as the grave site of a Roman Soldier or one of Wade's road builders. Close by, however, is a cairn circle and mound which Andy had perused the Canmore notes on. No sign of the stones supposed to surround it - until we started to pull back the turf at the base. And there they were, eleven large stones circling the mound, which is only a metre or so tall. Success!
A bit further up the glen is Clach Ossian, Ossian's Stone. We stopped here and looked at this large relic, which prior to Wade's colonialising road-building activities covered a cist, which contained human remains. This is a pretty imposing boulder, surrounded by the remains of a dyke and bypassed by traces of Wade's road. Martin bemoaned his lack of hair as a protective cover from the sun, so Milgi kindly loaned him some of hers. Various attempts also were made to get a group photo here, with slightly amusing results...
From here we headed to Clach na Tiompan, looking at the River Almond four poster first, then back to the chambered cairn and finally Tiompan itself. When I had been here previously, I mistook this for a standing stone. Andy had been doing his homework, however, and a stone I mistook for clearance rubble turned out to be the stump of another piece of this one-time four poster. Scrabbling in the turf revealed the existence of a third, now recumbent stone. Yet another success! The sun was beating down, we were getting hungry and thirsty, so time to find a picnic site.
Croft Moraig proved to be the ideal choice. After roaming around this interesting double circle, the picnic hampers were broken out and established near the cup marked recumbent stone. Following the usual rounds of sandwiches etcetera, it was time for the whole point of these meets - puddings! And here Milgi excelled - not only had she brought a home-baked apple pie, but that most innovative of ideas - a thermos full of hot custard! A veritable feast was enjoyed, marred only by a certain amount of bickering about who got to scrape out the last traces of custard from the flask. Needless to say, Andy won, having brought not only his usual two spoons, but in addition a very long-handled one... is he psychic? Following a post-prandial discussion on various matters archaeological, during which Andy befriended a small irridescent beetle, we agreed the day had so far been a total success. We had reached lunch and visited every site on the agenda so far!
Down the road just a short way are the Newhall Bridge stones, set in a blue landscape of harebells, which gave a magnificent blue/green setting. We drove down to have a look at Taymouth Castle whilst we were here, a strange old pile with a magnificent wrought-iron staircase at the side. Then on down the road towards Acharn.
We decided to cheat on this one. No point in having a 4x4 and walking all that way, we were all a bit leg-weary already. So up the track we trundled, past the falls, Andy leaping in and out of the car as we negotiated the various gates. We parked a way below the circle and walked up. The views from here are absolutely magnificent, though our appreciation of this somewhat disrupted circle (there's a wall built through it...) was spoilt by the discovery of a very recent small 'altar' type construction in the centre. It's not there now... On the way back down we stopped to admire the falls, a sheer drop of nearly 30 metres - quite a sight.
Next on the agenda was Machuim, beside the village of Lawers. This mound and disrupted circle has an 'Aberdeen' feel to it. There's a certain amount of field clearance here, but the small, tight circle and several of the surrounding kerb stones still have a nice feel to them. Off along the road to Fortingall, where we tramped around a field containing a long cairn and various ramparts (possibly Roman in origin) and splashed what remained of our water on a long rock with a number of large cup marks on it, in an attempt to photograph them properly. Then a brief ponder over a circular feature labelled Pontious Pilate's Grave - everything round here gets blamed on him. There was a small standing stone in the adjacent field to the south, but we didn't enter as the ewes had not yet lambed - so just hung over the fence and took our photographs.
Into the village in search of liquid refreshment, we discovered that Perthshire is shut on Sundays... so a quick look at the Fortingall Yew, admired the cross slab remnants in the Kirk, a wander around the graveyard and a long and interesting discussion with a couple of German tourists who were quite interested in our idea of fun! Then it was back via Aberfeldy, where a hostelry was stormed in search of liquid refreshment and a chance to admire our sunburn... Back to Crieff, where the parting of the ways took place as we all headed off in various directions. I assume the others got home OK!
An excellent day out, and we stuck to the agenda all the way through. That's the last time Andy gets to plan a day out!
The Scottish Megaraks visited this area today during a tour of Perthshire. We had a look at the cairn, which according to Canmore was surrounded by kerb stones. Only one was visible, but on pulling back some of the turf and generally nosing around, we discovered that there are still at least eleven in situ. The cairn itself is fairly unremarkable, only being around a metre tall. It is visible from the road if you know what you're looking for.
My mistake - should have done more research! Big Sweetie and I visited again today, in the company of 2 other Scottish Megaraks. The stump of one of the other stones in the group is visible 5m east of the survivor. Hidden down in the turf again about 5m south lies a recumbent pillar which was probably part of the group. I have uploaded 3 photos, 2 showing the relationship of the survivor and stump, and one showing the recumbent with turf peeled back (thanks, Milgi!).
As can be seen from the photos, the views are well worth the climb. The site had been 'added to' by some idiot who had built a small cairn/altar in the centre. This had been removed by the time we left.... (see my last photograph) leaving the original 6-stone site as it is meant to be seen, allowing for the fact that a wall had been built through it in the past!
This stone is in a field which also contains a long cairn and a circular mound (ringed by a ditch) known locally as Pontius Pilate's grave. The cup-marks are fairly large, we tried to illustrate them better by applying what remained of our water bottle... without great success.
A weekend on Mull
On Friday morning (18th April) Cath and I set out across country towards Oban, one of the main ferry ports in the West of Scotland. We had booked 3 nights in a Tobermory hotel on Mull, an island we had not previously visited. This was not planned as a 'neolithic' trip, just a chance to look round somewhere we had not been to before. However, studying the maps showed that there are a lot of easily accessible sites close by the various little roads around the island (almost exclusively single-track) and so I had high hopes of visiting a few. Cath is pretty tolerant of my obsessions, as long as she's not expected to trail for miles - she'll happily sit in the car and read as I charge about the landscape! The weather was glorious, and the forecast for the whole weekend was good.
The crossing takes around 45 minutes from Oban to Craignure, and on disembarking from CalMac's 'Isle of Mull' we set off on what is just about the only stretch of twin-track road north towards Salen. To the west of the road at a farm called Scallastle I made my first stop, asking permission to visit the site. This was happily granted despite lambing ewes in the field, and I had a good look at this strange little clump - one upright, a recumbent, and several stones which appeared to be kerbs around the base of a small mound. An interesting little site. Then it was on up the road to Salen, where the road becomes single-track, and up towards Tobermory. Just outside the largest town on the island is the site called Balliscate, which consists of two upright stones with a recumbent one between, forming a cross-shape. The view from up here was terrific, although across on the Ardnamurch peninsula we could see the smoke rising from the moorland fires there - visible in one of the photos. And then on to our hotel, on a promontory overlooking the harbour. A couple of pints, a meal, and then a walk round the harbour before bed.
Saturday we had decided to visit Iona, which lies on the SW tip of Mull, almost diagonally opposite Tobermory. For those unfamiliar with island roads, it can be a bit demanding - we weren't in any hurry but it took 3 hours to reach Fionnphort, where the ferry takes about 5 minutes to cross to Iona. En route I had a quick look at the Gruline stone, which was guarded by a rather large looking bull. I didn't enter that field! Neither of us are particularly religious, but enjoyed looking around the various parts of the old abbey, the Reiligh Odhran, viewing the various Celtic crosses and visiting John Smith's grave. How different things might have been had he survived and Blair never gained high rank... Enough politics, and we sat on one of the white sand beaches before crossing back over and driving back towards Tobermory.
This journey gave me a chance to look at a few stones on the way back, however. First call was just outside Fionnphort itself, where a 2m tall stone sits in the driveway to a guest house. Then on a bit further to Tiraghoil, where another stone sits in a field, and finally to Taoslin, where the stone sits proud just below the crest of a small hill, with a magnificent view out over the island. Back to the hotel for more drink, food and a wander round the upper reaches of Tobermory as the sun went down.
North from Tobermory in the morning, to Glengorm Castle, which is a monumental Victorian pile - but with a neolithic treat within the grounds. Permission asked and granted, we set out across fields of Highland cows and lambing ewes to the setting of Glengorm, a magnificent arrangement of three tall upright stones and a kerb, measuring around 13m by 8m. This is a truly spectacular group of stones, and set off well against a magnificent seascape in the background. This was a great start to the day.
From here we headed SW to the Dervaig group, near the centre of the island. Having decided against the woodland hike to Maol Mor (Dervaig A) we settled for B and C. Parking next to a spectacular viewpoint over Dervaig itself, a small path leads across to the forest where, just at the end of a short avenue, Cnoc Fada (Dervaig B) can be seen through the trees. This comprises two large uprights and three recumbents, in a very peaceful wooded setting. Just down the hill from here, partially built into the wall of the new cemetery, is Glac Mhor (Dervaig C), a row which has been disrupted over the years.
From Dervaig we drove west past the beautiful Calgary Bay, and then south across country to drive along Loch Tuath, opposite the island of Ulva. We stopped just short of Kilninian to eat our picnic lunch, in blazing sunshine and with beautiful views to the south and east. A few hundred metres SE of where we stopped is the standing stone of Tostarie (Kilninian), with a pronounced northerly lean. A superb setting for this stone, which is much-used as a rubbing post by the local sheep.
Then came a long scenic drive across Mull and down to the south west quadrant, via a rather meandering track, to Lochbuie. This is the most significant area of Mull in neolithic terms, and set in a 3/4 bowl which even Burl was moved to comment on - "Few rings could be more evocative". Druid's Field, as it is known, comprises: one standing stone, a circle, not one but two outliers, and a ruined kerb cairn. We spent quite some time looking around here, enjoying the scenery and the warm breeze, before slowly traipsing back towards Tobermory, for dinner and a good bottle of wine. A terrific day out!
Monday dawned and we had to catch the ferry back to Oban. After filling up the tank (Oban petrol is 10p per litre cheaper than on Mull...) we decided on a slight diversion, as we could see the clouds starting to gather and the good weather we had enjoyed was obviously not going to last! Taking the Glen Cruitten road east out of Oban towards Taynuilt, we drove up past the Strontoiller Stone and kerb cairn, pausing to take a few photographs. Then on into Glen Lonan and the Glenamachrie Stones. Setting out east into what had become a rather damp day in a very short space of time, we drove back towards Dundee and home. Having had but the briefest taste of what Mull has to offer, we're already planning a longer return!
Ask permission at the farm, parking is easy at the road end as there is plenty of room. Not visible from the road from Craignure, you can only see this heading south from Salen.
Set out on a low mound, with a couple of possible kerb stones still in situ, there is one upright stone (about 1.3m tall) and one recumbent here. The 'kerb stones' may in fact be other recumbents - it's a bit hard to tell. Have a look at the photographs and make your own mind up! The stones are aligned NW/SE. There are no significant markings on any of the stones.
Park at the Mull Pottery and take the track just north of the buildings which leads west up-hill. The stones are around 400m in, on a raised platform. There are 3 stones here, the centre one being recumbent. The northern stone is the larger, being just over 2.5m in height. The row runs roughly N-S, and the southern stone is well under 2m. The central recumbent stone looks as if it would have been the largest, it's around 3m long in its current position.
This is a pretty impressive viewpoint, and worth waking up to on a clear day. Unfortunately our view of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula on the mainland was a bit obscured by smoke from burning moorland, which is clearly visible in one of the photographs.
As can be seen from the photograph, this field was occupied, so I didn't make an issue of it and took the bull's photograph along with the stone, which is over 2m in height and very slim.
The owner of the guest house here has no problem with people viewing the stone - just ask. This stone is over 2m tall, and stippled with quartz.
This stone is in a field just off the Fionnphort road. It is aligned N-S, and has no markings or carvings, and stands just over 2m tall. Magnificent views all around!
Canmore debates whether this stone is prehistoric, or whether it is merely a way-marker for pilgrims en route to Iona. It certainly looks genuine to me!
Around 2m in height, aligned NNW-SSE, with a slightly sloping top, it has some field clearance boulders at the base and appears to be yet another popular sheep rubbing post.
A magnificent site, though according to Canmore only one stone was upright in 1800, and the others re-erected at a later date. The kerb around them looks fairly ancient but may in fact have been added at the time the stones were re-erected. It does not detract from their setting, however, and this is a site well worth a look. All three stones are over 2m in height, and quite dramatic in effect.
Glengorm was originally known as Sorne. In 1850, the new landlord, one James Forsyth, began to 'improve' his estate in the usual fashion in the Highlands - by clearance. The main house was replaced by a large and imposing baronial 'castle'. Forsyth sought advice on a new name for the estate from one of the few remaining tenants of the land, an old lady, and she suggested Glengorm, meaning Blue Glen. Little did he suspect that the name would commemorate, for all time, the days when the glen was indeed blue with smoke from the burning homesteads.
This stone row sits just inside a wood on the hillside above Dervaig, and is signposted. Originally 5 stones, oriented NNW-SSE, only two are now upright, but it is still quite a stirring sight. Both the upright stones are around 2.5m in height. Looking down the avenue formed by the trees, they are rather evocative.
Three stones, aligned approximately NNW-SSE, the most northern of which is now included in the dyke... and used to anchor some wire fencing. These stones are not being treated as well as their kin just up the hill at Cnoc Fada! They lie just a short distance from the new cemetery, on the brow of a ridge.
Strathardle and Glen Brerachan
A friend, George, had mentioned to me a short while ago that he had come across a standing stone on Drumderg, north of Blairgowrie and a bit northwest of the Tullymurdoch stones. It wasn't marked on the map and there's nothing in Canmore about it, so I decided to go and take a look. Having finished all my chores in the morning, I took off at the back of one or so for Alyth, then headed NW up across the area still known as the Forest of Alyth, now sadly mostly moorland. George had given me a good map reference for the stone, and as I drove along I soon spotted it a couple of hundred metres in from the road. Drumderg stands around 1.7 metres tall, and is rather obviously a favourite rubbing stone for the sheep! Amazing views to the north, west and south, on a gloriously sunny day. I spent some time here just looking round, reflecting on another April 16th, on another more northerly moorland, some 257 years ago...
It was too good an afternoon to waste! Out with the maps, and then heading over to the A93 I turned south to Bridge of Cally, then took the A924 NW into Strathardle. About 7 km up this road 'Standing Stones' are marked on the map at Stylemouth. And it's not lying! Balnabroich is a single standing stone in a field just to the south of the road. The field was empty of stock so I nipped in to photograph it. Last year, for some reason, this was enclosed in a cage, but is now free to roam again... Looking around, I saw a small tree-covered mound just a couple of hundred metres SE, just beside a farm road. There seemed to be a large lump of something in among the trees. I wandered back, curious, and Balnabroich 2-poster hove into view - a pair of stones in amongst the trees! A lovely little spot, though my visit was tempered with quite a few glances over my shoulder to the field next to the mound, which housed an extremely large bull. The fence between us was about 3 strands of low wire, and would not have caused him any problems had he decided to make an issue of it. The day was too hot, though, and he lay placidly chewing the cud as I beat my retreat... I decided against the trek uphill northwards to Balnabroich, where there is apparently the remains of a circle. Another day, perhaps...
A bit further up the road there are two stones at the roadside just past Enochdhu. The first, Wester Enochdhu, has recently had most of the undergrowth cut back around it. It's easily accessible, being only a couple of metres back from the road, though parking nearby is awkward. This proved to be the case too at West Wester Enochdhu, some 400 metres further on. I managed to park at a small cottage on the other side of the road, the lady there was very good about it. Another stone which stands just at the roadside.
I then headed further west to Straloch, where there is a stone just inside the field to the south of the road. Straloch is easily accessible, as there is a convenient layby just opposite the stone, and the farmer has provided a stile which makes life very easy - full marks to him. This oddly-shaped stone is over 2 metres tall, and the south face has strange diagonal striping on it, which shows up well in a couple of the photographs.
Last call of the day was around 2 kilometres further on at Dalnavaid, a cup-marked rock in a field just south of the road. Park near Dalnavaid cottage (the phone box is a good marker) and ask permission to enter the field - readily granted. The stone itself sits around 200 metres in, on a little promontory just below the fence to the upper fields. A marvellous little cluster of around 18 cup-marks!
Then I retraced my route, stopping a few times along the way to watch the lambs frisking around the fields, enjoying the good weather. As I'm off to Mull for the Easter weekend, I just hope the weather lasts!
One of the Scottish Megaraks, George Currie, mentioned this stone to me. It's not marked on the OS Landranger map, but it's most definitely there. 200 m or so in from the road, just off a rough track. About 1.7 m tall, and 0.7 m wide, it stands proud with a terrific viewpoint north, west and south, just on the SW shoulder of Drumderg. It's obviously a great favourite with the sheep, too, as the eroded area round the base and traces of wool on the shaft show. From one angle it looks a bit like an upright axe-head.
There's a very small area on the north side of the road where it's possible to park. This is a pretty large chunk of rock, with no discernible markings on it. No stock in the field today, though there was an extremely large bull in the field next door! The stone is no longer in it's cage, however!
This tree-covered mound lies just beside a track down to a farm. Access is fairly straightforward, though parking can be awkward - I walked back from where I had parked near the single stone. These two large stones lie almost due E-W, in a sheltered location in amongst the trees. No discernible markings on them, though the eastern stone has several deep grooves in it - probably natural weathering.
The undergrowth here has been trimmed back withing the past couple of weeks, by the freshness of the stumps. The road's not busy, and it's a lovely peaceful little spot.
Right by the roadside, and a bit of difficulty parking - fortunately the lady who runs the B&B just up the road from here was very nice about letting me park in her driveway! This is another stone just by the roadside, about 1.5 m tall and no distinguishing marks on it.
Only sheep in the field today, and at the far end, so no being chased by bullocks as per Hamish! There's a very convenient layby and the stile is great!
The south face of the stone is marked by diagonal grooves, I assume they are weathering but very reminiscent of Tuilyies. Quite a dramatic stone, over 2 m tall.
Quite clearly marked on the Landranger map, about 200 m in from the cottage, near the fence between the hill field and the one you're in. Sits on a north-facing spur, quite easy to spot (the biggest stone at the end). About 18 cup-marks on the eastern side of the stone, quite clear and not too badly weathered.
Four stones in the East Neuk
Too nice a day to waste, so after a late breakfast we jumped in the car and headed off down into Fife. A quick run down to the outskirts of Kirkcaldy, then turn east along the A915, known locally as the Standin' Stane road towards Leven. Earlseat farm is just to the north of the road, and the stone there can easily be seen from the road. It's not very spectacular, and has no cup marks or symbols, but is in a nice open location.
From there, we headed east again to Scoonie, just north of Leven on the B927, in search of the Balgrummo stone. This was featured in a recent Time Team dig, where a Bronze Age cemetery was excavated at Sillerhole. The stone stands in a magnificent location, overlooking the Firth of Forth, with excellent views across to the Bass Rock and Berwick Law. Due east of the stone is Leven Law, and this one is worth a look just for the views alone!
Hunger was setting in, so we detoured down into Elie and had lunch in one of the many little pubs there. Walked down to the harbour, admiring the typical East Neuk architecture of the many old houses, then back to the car and off up the Kilconquhar road.
Just off the B942 is Easter Pitcorthie farm, near to which is a large standing stone. Obtaining permission at the farm house, I walked across a newly harrowed field to the stone itself. This farmer is careful to leave a good large area unploughed round the stone, unlike too many others. The stone itself is nearly 8 feet tall, and is very prominent in the landscape, though it cannot be seen from the road. Many markings on the southern face, but severely eroded. Two skylarks were singing their hearts out above me as I walked back.
Then on along the B9171 east again to the the stone at West Pitcorthie (I know, it sounds a bit daft but there are several Pitcorthies in the area!). Parking at the farm I asked permission to cross the fields, as there were sheep and lambs in the first field. There was no problem about this, and I set off - much to the amusement of the sheep, who lined up to inspect their visitor... This 7 foot tall stone has only a small area uncultivated round it, and there are a couple of fairly recent scrape marks on the western face. There are a couple of possible cup marks on the top, I'm not sure if these are just weathering or not.
Back to the car and head for home... A good afternoon out, with some spectacular views out over the Firth of Forth, the Isle of May in particular looking very close despite being 5 miles offshore.
This stone is a block of sandstone, around 4-1/2 feet tall, oriented approximately E-W. There are no visible cup marks on it.
This stone is a slab of red sandstone, around 4-1/2 feet tall, and lies on a NNW-SSE axis. It was apparently dislodged by ploughing many years ago but replaced in situ. The ENE face has a 'girdle' across it approximately half-way up, but doesn't show too clearly in the photograph. No other markings appear.
This is the standing stone featured on the Time Team dig at Leven, where they uncovered a Bronze Age burial site with 9 cists.
No sign of the boulders Landells mentioned, though the cup marks are very prominent if rather badly weathered. The farmer here leaves a really wide space around the stone unploughed, which is a good thing to see.
This stone is set on a N-S axis, and stands around 7 feet tall. It is of local red sandstone, and there are some possible cup marks on the top - not clearly defined in the photograph I took!
Stravaiging round Comrie
I returned from offshore Wednesday determined to spend the following day getting out and about, having done a bit of research into sites in the Comrie area. So first thing Thursday morning I packed the maps, camera, a flask and some sandwiches and headed off into Perthshire on a beautiful sunny spring morning.
First stop was the stone called Lawers, just off the A85 Crieff to Lochearnhead road, in a field with a couple of rather friendly horses in it. Parked down the track beside the field, and spoke to the horses before jumping over the fence to take some photographs. You have no idea how long it took to persuade the horses to stay out of the way whilst I was doing this!
Then it was on to Dundurn, where I took a couple of pictures of the hill. This is the site of an Iron Age fort and then a Pictish settlement, comparable in some ways to Dunadd or Traprain. I didn't climb the hill, however, as there isn't a lot to see up there and I had been on the top several years ago. Just below the hill is Easter Dundurn Farm, where there is supposed to be a cup-marked rock built into a wall at Dun Fhalein farmhouse. Nobody was in when I called, and despite looking around, I couldn't see this rock. So I headed back down the track towards Kindrochet, where there is a chambered cairn. The way was blocked by a large gate warning that a bull was loose, so I turned back... Not much luck so far!
Heading back down the road I drove across the small bridge into Kindrochet itself (all two cottages of it) and got lucky at the second cottage. The occupant showed me how to get across the fields to the cairn, and the route to take to avoid the one with the bull in it. This was more like it! Kindrochet Chambered Cairn is now in considerable disarray, but still well worth a look. Measuring around 130 feet by 30 feet, many of the internal features are still discernible even amongs the scatter of rubble and field clearance. The view to the west showed Dundurn hill clearly in the background, and it was easy to see why this site had been chosen. I took a number of photographs, but none of them really gives a great impression of this very peaceful place. A lovely spot, I sat for a while looking round before heading back to the cottages, where I was greeted by a Labrador carrying a stick, a less than subtle hint which I took, and spent 10 minutes keeping him amused...
From here I trundled down the road a couple of miles east to Wester Tullybannocher, where two stones sit just inside the field beside the road. The western stone has at least four cup-marks on it. This is another very scenic site, with good views across Glen Earn. I sat here for a while and had a sandwich and a cup of tea, there was a good bit of warmth in the sun and virtually no wind at all.
Next stop was the village of Comrie, where in the southern area known as Dalginross there are two sites worth a look. The first is the Dalginross four-poster, which very much reminded me of Burl's comment about Sandy Road, Scone - "An ideal site for the slothful, as it can be viewed from one's car..."! There is a circular platform, raised about 2 feet above the general level, just at the edge of a small wood. The four-poster sits central in this, with a tree-stump in the middle of the group. Only one stone is now erect, and it appears to have a couple of cup-marks just on the top - which was covered in moss. On just down the road to the stone known as the Roman Stone or Western Cowden Farm stones, a strange little setting, consisting of one very large stone, with a pronounced eastern lean, which is known locally as the Roman Stone, a smaller one just beside it then 6 feet east a stone which has at least 20 cup-marks on it. I splashed water on this in order to be able to photograph it better (handy hint for those of you who don't know it already - always carry a flask of water for the stones!). This is yet another site where the lazy need not ever leave the car!
Heading on down the B827, I took the un-numbered road for Muthill and less than a kilometre down this is the site of the Shillinghill or Dunruchan stone group. These stones require a bit of hiking, though the first is situated just inside a field beside the road. Parking can be awkward here, so be careful, and ask permission at Craigneich Farm - readily enough granted. The stones are numbered A to F in CANMORE, and stone F is the four-sided 6 foot+ stone in the field beside the road, at NN79221787. Entering the field on the south side of the road, I wandered slowly through knee-high heather uphill to Stone B (NN79201743) which stands about 5 feet tall and around 8 feet wide. From here you can see stone A away over to the east, and stone C (NN79101714) to the SSW, about 200m away. Stone C is another steady plod uphill, and stands about 9 feet vertically, though with a pronounced southern tilt (see the photographs). On to D (NN79031689), another tall one, being about 8-1/2 feet, which stands on a bit of a platform with a lot of smaller stones (probably field clearance), leaning north. From the hoof-marks around, a favourite rubbing spot for the sheep! Stone E is very close by here (NN78981682), nearly seven feet tall, and looking NW you can see A, C and D quite clearly. The views from here are absolutely magnificent, and there was not a breath of wind. I stayed here for some time, just looking at the views. Then I headed off to the largest stone of this group, A (NN79541739), which is a wee hike away and rough going at first through heather and some marshy bits. This stone is a real cracker, over 11 feet tall. I was just setting up to take some photographs when I noticed two jet con-trails in the sky making a perfect saltire against the blue... so, hoping it would come out I shot almost into the sun for the perfect Scottish stone setting! It came out not too bad! This is an amazing group, and well worth a visit if you are in the vicinity. On a day like today the views alone are worth the effort. There are no discernible markings on any of the stones.
Finally I headed on down to Dalchirla, where there are two sites - a single standing stone, over 9 feet in height, in a field, surrounded by many field-clearance boulders, and in the field opposite, a pair of stones, one 8 feet tall and the other around 4-1/2 feet. The smaller of these has two cup-marks on the inner surface. Permission to enter the fields is readily given by the farmer.
All in all, not a bad day out. Several interesting sites and the benefit of a fine spring day.
This stone is situated in a field to the south of the A85 Crieff to Lochearnhead road, near the village of Comrie. There is a small track down the side of the field and you can park here as long as you don't block the road. The stone itself is around 6-1/2 feet tall, with no discernible markings on it. There were a couple of friendly horses in the field when I visited today, which made photographing the stone rather interesting!
According to Canmore, this fort is presumed to be the place mentioned in the Annals of Ulster as being under siege in 683, and to have been a principal Pictish stronghold; it may have originated in the Iron Age. Certainly the eastern equivalent of Dunadd.
Amazing site - very robbed-out but several central chambers still in situ, and it measures a good 130 feet by 30 feet or so. Unfortunately there's a telegraph pole planted in the middle and the remains of a fence running through it.... but a very fine situation and well worth a visit. Park beside the two cottages at Kindrochet, and ask at the second cottage - the man who lives there is very friendly (as are his dogs!) and will explain how to approach it if the bull is in a nearby field. Approaching from Dundurn farm is more difficult.
The photographs really don't show the atmosphere of the place. Looking west along the length of the cairn gives a clear view of Dundurn hill fort.
No sign of any other stones which may have formed a circle, I think this is just a pair myself. The western stone has four distinct cup-marks on it which show up quite well in one of the photographs.
According to CANMORE, the alternative name for this site, Dunmoid, means 'Hill of Judgement'. This is unconfirmed. Around 1876, a stone kist was found in front of one of the slabs, and also an urn filled with ashes. Only one stone is now upright, and it appears to have two cup-marks on the upper surface - take a look at the photograph and see what you think. It was covered in moss, but the indentations felt fairly regular on tentative exploration!
The main stone, a large block which leans markedly east, is the Roman Stone itself. Beside it is a small block, and six feet east a larger flat rock with over 20 cup-marks on its surface.
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I work offshore in the North Sea as a rig medic. 55+ years old. Nationalist to the core. Have been interested in ancient sites as long as I can remember, due to my Dad's interest in history. Traced my ancestry back to the 1650's. Run a website about the little Fife town I was born and brought up in, Burntisland. Run a website on Stone Circles in Angus and Perthshire. Learning Gaelic, but not very fluent so far. Spend a lot of time walking in the hills. Member of the Scottish Megaraks. Sanity often questioned....