Dunino, Fife

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 541 109

Also Known as:

  1. Balkethly
  2. Balkaithley
  3. Canmore ID 34487

Archaeology & History

We know very little about the site that once stood here — even Aubrey Burl (2000) found no history here.  It seems that antiquarian records were never made in this outlying district and even folklore records seem to have missed this region! (surely not?)  A. Lindsay Mitchell (1992) told that the circle here had been built into the church, but knew no more.

First described in the old Statistical Account of Scotland in 1794, even then it was in the past tense, as they said that “a Druidical temple is said to have stood in the vicinity of Balkethly. Not the smallest vestige can now be seen.”  Balkaithly Farm is a few hundred yards east of Dunino.  In the New Statistical Account of the region in 1845 it was reported that three stones close to the west wall of the minister’s garden at Dunino were said to be part of the ruined circle. The site had truly gone.  By 1925 when the Royal Commission (1933) lads visited the place to look for any remains, they told:

“The stone circle which formerly existed near the church at Dunino has now been entirely destroyed, but what are believed to be portions of some of the original stones are built into the dyke on the north side of the roadway at the south-west of the churchyard, about 100 yards east of its junction with the main thoroughfare to St. Andrews.”

A few hundred yards west of the circle, “a short cist containing a fine food-vessel urn was accidentally discovered during ploughing on the farm of Beley.” This was sent to Edinburgh’s National Museum.

Folklore

Locally, there are several places alleged to have been the actual spot where the circle once stood; but several of the stones within Dunino church have typical Masonic marks etched onto them and which, local folklore tells, identifies the standing stones that were once in the circle and which were then built into the church.  Also in the churchyard is a small carved upright stone, which local people visit and leave offerings upon.

References:

  1. Batchelor, Richard A., Origin of St. Andrews: Moon, Magicians and Maidens in Fife, Shieling: St. Andrews 1997.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  3. Leighton, John M., History of the County of Fife from the Earliest Period to the Present Time – volume 3, Joseph Swan: Glasgow 1840.
  4. Mitchell, A. Lindsay, Hidden Scotland, Lochar: Moffat 1992.
  5. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  6. Stuart, John, Sculptured Stones of Scotland – volume 2, Spalding Club: Edinburgh 1867.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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About megalithix

Occultist, prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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