Standing Stones: OS Grid Reference – NN 75491 00455
Also Known as:
Take the B824 road that runs between Dunblane and Doune and, whichever direction you’re coming from, watch out for the large statue of David Stirling by the roadside (y’ can’t really miss it!). Stop here. Then, walk along the dirt-track into the field by the side of the statue, keeping your eyes peeled 50 yards along, for the upright stones in the field on your right, at the top of the brow of the hill.
Archaeology & History
A few hundred yards south of the large Glenhead Standing Stone, we come across this curious small row of three reasonably large standing stones which — the more you look at them — give the distinct impression that they may be the remains of a large prehistoric tomb. But archaeology records are silent on this matter and we must contend with what we can see. At the northernmost end of the row, a fourth stone lays amongst the vegetation: it may have once stood alone, or maybe been snapped from its fellow monolith. 20 yards south is a large mass of stone; perhaps from an old building, perhaps cairn spoil (does anyone know?)
The local historian Moray Mackay (1984) thought that the line of stones here were once a part of something larger, saying:
“Originally it was probably a circle of six stones, with a seventh in the middle, and this central stone can still be identified by its flat top on which are the mysterious and well known cup-marks, much weathered but plainly visible. Close to the site, urns and stone hammers were unearthed last century.”
Of the three remaining upright stones, it is the central one which has the cup-markings visible on its top and side (Allen 1882), with a lovely covering of almost luminous lichen giving it extra effect! (a separate TNA Site Entry for the cup-marked stone will be written in due course)
The famous astroarchaeologist Alexander Thom and his son (1990) described the place as,
“A three stone alignment showing about 33° N declination in one direction and 31° S in the other, but the azimuth comes from the stones only and so cannot be accurate. Perhaps the line is lunar to the hill in the SW…”
In Thom’s (1967) earlier work he posited that the alignment may relate to the rising of the star Capella around 1760 BC, but this is untrue. Thom’s error however, was not of his making, but due to the false dates that archaeologists ascribed to megalithic ruins at the time – dates which Thom used in his research, believing that the archaeological fraternity would know what they were talking about! In their collaborated text, Aubrey Burl added how,
“these stones stand on a hill summit at 360ft (110m) OD. The row is on a north-facing slope. Three stones stand. A fourth, prostrate, 6ft 6 in (2m) long, lies against the NE pillar. The row has a NNE-SSW axis. The northernmost stone is 3ft 6in high, the centre 4ft, and the SSW, characteristically the tallest, 6ft 6in… The line is about 27 feet (8.3m) long. The central stone has 23 cupmarks on its top and 4 more on its western side.”
…to be continued…
- Allen, J. Romilly, “Notes on some Undescribed Stones with some Cup-Markings in Scotland,” in PSAS 16, 1882.
- Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
- Mackay, Moray S., Doune: Historical Notes, Forth Naturalist: Stirling 1984.
- Thom, Alexander, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press 1967.
- Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, A., Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 2, BAR Oxford 1990.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian