Puidrac, Balquhidder, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid References – NN 54058 20794

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24141
Puidrac Stone, looking southeast

Puidrac Stone, looking southeast

Getting Here

From Balquhidder village, take the road east towards Auchtubh as if you’re gonna visit the Priest’s Stone, just past the house of Tom na Cruich on the right-hand side of the road. When you get to the house, if you ask the owners there how best to get to the stone, they are very friendly and very helpful in pointing you in the right direction.

Archaeology & History

This solitary standing stone first seems to be mentioned in J.W. Gow’s (1887) essay on the prehistoric antiquities of this part of Rob Roy’s country.  Found below the house and hillock where the old gallows used to be, he told:

“On the level ground below (Tom na Croich) …there is a prominent monolith, standing about 4½ feet above ground, quite flat, on the top. It is shaped like a wedge, with the edge to the east, and is famous in Balquhidder as the place where trials of strength took place.”

Note the stones in the next field

Note the stones in the next field

Puidrac Stone, looking north

Puidrac Stone, looking north

Below the standing stone is a small rock, whose predecessor played an important part in some local traditions relating to this site. (see ‘Folklore’ below)  Also, due west of here in the next field, you will be able to see a couple of seemingly upright stones in the tall reeds 200 yards away, which early records say were part of a stone circle—now much in ruin—known as Clachan Aoraidh or the Worshipping Stones.  There is the possibility that this single stone was an outlier to the circle.  It’s astronomy might be worth checking….

Folklore

'Lifting stone' in front of Puidrac

‘Lifting stone’ in front of Puidrac

When we visited the stone last week, the owners of the house above asked if we’d managed “to lift the stone”—and I wondered what they meant at first, until they told us the folklore about the site.  They narrated the tale almost exactly as it had been described first of all in J.W. Gow’s (1887) essay, which said the following:

“It is shaped like a wedge, with the edge to the east, and is famous in Balquhidder as the place where trials of strength took place.  A large round water-worn boulder, named after the district, ‘Puderag’, and weighing between two and three hundredweight, was the testing stone, which had to be lifted and placed on the top of the standing stone. There used to be a step about 18 inches from the top, on the east side of the stone, on which the lifting stone rested in its progress to the top. This step or ledge was broken off about thirty years ago, as told to me by the person who actually did it, and the breadth of the stone was thereby reduced about 8 inches. This particular mode of developing and testing the strength of the young men of the district has now fallen into disuse, and the lifting-stone game is a thing of the past.  A former minister of the parish pronounced it a dangerous pastime.  Many persons were permanently injured by their efforts to raise the stone, and it is said that he caused it to be thrown into the river, but others said it was built into the manse dyke, where it still remains.  There were similar stones at Monachyle, at Strathyre, and at Callander, and no doubt in every district round about, but the man who could lift ‘Puderag’ was a strong man and a champion.”

The present stone that is positioned on the ground below the standing stone was put here in much more recent times.

References:

  1. Gow, James M., “Notes in Balquhidder: Saint Angus, Curing Wells, Cup-Marked Stones, etc”, in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, volume 21, 1887.

AcknowledgementsTo Kenny and Laura for their help and guidance here. Huge thanks!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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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3 Responses to Puidrac, Balquhidder, Perthshire

  1. Alex Jones says:

    I wonder how ancient this trial of strength was?

  2. megalithix says:

    Funny you should ask this. The owners of the house above the stone told us about a man who was visiting all the ‘testing stones’ in Scotland and had done a book on them (though they couldn’t remember the title). I aint heard of it, but would assume he’s found some fascinating things out about this practice. If you come across it anywhere, I’d love to get a copy misself.

  3. Jacob Hetherington says:

    Seems my first comment went amiss, so if there’s two posts by the same errant crazy, that’s why.

    The gentleman the lady was referring to was likely Peter Martin jnr, who sadly passed in 2015. His father, Peter Martin snr, wrote the first book on stone lifting culture and stones, Of Stones and Strength, alongside Steve Jeck. This book is still available on Amazon.

    Peter Martin jnr took up his father’s mantle and uncovered many lifting stones across Scotland, and did work such as here, liasing with the local community and owners to put a stone back at the site, so the tradition and culture can still be continued. Peter’s article on this particular stone can be found here: http://www.thedinniestones.com/Articles%20of%20Interest/The%20Puterach%20and%20Pudrac%20Stones.pdf

    Peter Martin jnr sadly never finished his book – Of Twixt the Stone and Turf, however the first half is available here: http://www.thedinniestones.com/Articles%20of%20Interest/Twixt%20the%20Stone%20and%20the%20Turf.pdf and is an indepth look the cultures, tradition and history surrounding lifting stones in Scotland.

    Part 2 is availble in parts online, and details the stones themselves and locations, excerpts are online at oldmanofthestones.com

    As for the age of tradition in these stones? Very much more recent compared to most stones on this site, with most I’d wager comfortably fitting in the last few centuries. Some stones pre-date the reformation of the church by way of their location, whereby others due to their location are post reformation. In the nearby Glen Lyon, not far from the Bridge of Balgie sits a lifting stone known as Bodach Craigh Fianna, and is likely Pictish in origin, taking it’s history far closer to most stones in your site. It’s likely the oldest lifting stone in the world, nevermind Scotland. Peter explores this stone and others in the vicinity here: http://www.thedinniestones.com/Articles%20of%20Interest/The%20Stones%20of%20the%20Southern%20Highlands.pdf

    Hope that’s at all interesting and not a vomit of words!

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