Dunruchan ‘D’ Standing Stone, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone: OS Grid Reference – NN 79044 16881

Also Known as:

  1. Aodann Mhor
  2. Canmore ID 24790
  3. Cornoch
  4. Shillinghill

Getting Here

Dunruchan D Stone – with Dunruchan E in background

Follow the directions to reach the Craigneich standing stone, then across the road and uphill past the Dunruchan B standing stone, uphill further past the Dunruchan C standing stone and onto the moorland plain just behind it. You’ll see two large standing stones ahead of you on the moor to the south, a coupla hundred yards away.  The nearest one is Dunruchan D.

Archaeology & History

Fred Coles’ 1911 drawing

Another fine large standing stone in this curious but excellent megalithic complex on the hills south of Comrie. This great monolith leans at a slight angle, and would be some 10 feet tall if the ages had kept it perpendicular. It’s truly impressive; and it emerges from the edge of a large raised cairn which almost surrounds it.  The cairn is overgrown yet some 3-4 feet tall and made up of thousands of small stones. It’s the most notable of the cairns scattering the plains of Dunruchan, and gives the best impression of the standing stones here being memorials to some ancient chief, queen or shaman.  As far as I know, this cairn has not been excavated, so we know not yet who or what lies beneath it.

Carved parallelogram design

A small section of the standing stone has some faded carving on its eastern side. These seem to be relatively recent, though a curious parallelogram design echoes the carving (albeit larger) on the Gleneagles B standing stone, 10 miles southeast, and which is thought to be Pictish.  The carving here, however, doesn’t have that feel to it.

The stone and the cairn were noted in Fred Coles’ (1911) survey, in which he called this the “south-west stone” and wrote:

“New features are presented in combination with this Stone. In lieu of being set absolutely solitary on the heath, there are, extending for a considerable area almost around its base, many stones and boulders laid in the form of a flattish circular cairn or platform (see ground-plan). The monolith, which leans over towards the north, is set to the south of the crest of the cairn, and there is a considerable fall from the crest to the level of the moor around it, indicating that a very great quantity of small stones must have been employed in making the cairn. The interior, shown dotted on the plan, bears signs of having been partially excavated, probably the cause of the Stone being so much out of the vertical. The stony cairn or platform measures 15 feet in diameter, and consists of moderate sized stones. The base of the great Standing Stone is oblong, and measures in girth 14 feet 2 inches. Down the slope of its back the length is 10 feet, and its present vertical height 8 feet 6 inches. The longer axis is almost exactly due east and west. From this spot the next Stone in order can be easily seen…”

Coles’ groundplan of cairn & stone

Several other small cairns scatter this grassy and heathland plain, all of them overgrown and none of them excavated.

Dunruchan D, looking south

As with the other Dunruchan monoliths, this one has been included in the megalithic stone row surveys by both Alexander Thom (1990) and Aubrey Burl (1993), but the staggered alignment this has with the other standing stones is more likely fortuitous than deliberate.  But this doesn’t detract from the magnitude of the megalithic cluster on this  small section of moorland.  A truly brilliant site!

Folklore

According to an account in the Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1860, “these stones are believed to mark the graves or commemorate the death of Roman soldiers who fell in a battle fought here between the Romans and the Caledonians.”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.
  5. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© 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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