Cairn: OS Grid Reference – NT 0404 9877
Go along the A977 road out of Powmill village towards Crook of Devon, and as the road swerves uphill, past the Powmill Milk Bar on the right-hand side of the road, take your next right. Go along this small country lane for a mile or so, past Maidenwells Farm; then as you go uphill, stop at the very top. Look in the field on your left, where a small round clump of trees are surrounded by circular walling. The cairn’s inside the protective walling.
Archaeology & History
This Bronze Age tomb sits quietly amidst the ring of trees and walling which give the site cover and protection and, of course, an excellent view of the landscape for the spirit of whichever ancestor lives here. The place seems to have been described first of all in the Old Statistical Account of the area, in 1796, where they told:
“In the middle of Carleith are the ruins of an old building, perfectly circular, and nearly 24ft in diameter. Not long ago, the proprietor ordered this ground to be planted, and the stones were dug up to make a dyke. Two stone coffins were found each 4 feet long by 3 feet broad, and contained some human bones and teeth.”
Today, the overgrown remains of the cairn measure roughly 10 yards across, with the beeches reaching their great roots into and around the old tomb. The sides of the stone cist are still visible amidst the undergrowth. It was measured and described in a letter to the Ordnance Survey by J.S. Nichol in 1959, who thought there may have been more than one tomb here.
Although we don’t know for certain, one of the legendary witches known as ‘Meg of Aldie’ was said to frequent an old site close to where she lived – perhaps the Carleith cairn. The site is a damn good contender for such heathen rites!
Simpkins, Ewart, County Folklore – volume VII: Fife, Folklore Society: London 1914.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian