Witches Stone, Pittensorn, Murthly, Perthshire

Cup Marked Stone: OS Grid Reference — NO 0851 3881  

Getting Here

Witches Stone on 1867 map

Park up at Murthly village, follow the farm road west, opposite the Kinclaven junction up to the cross roads, and turn right and go past Douglasfield Farm, following the road as it bends to the left; then through the metal gates and walk on until you come to an earth bridge over the ditch to your left. Cross the bridge and the low-lying Witches Stone is about 30 yards on to your left by the drainage ditch.

Archaeology & History

The stone with cupmarks highlighted in blackberries

Not recorded on the Canmore online database, the Witches Stone is a low-lying, domed, earthfast rock bearing at least 12 cup marks. One cup mark has been drilled at some time in the past. Did the land owner do this as a preliminary to blowing it up with gunpowder? There is an interesting story relating to the origin of the cup marks, and it seems the name of the rock and its folklore may point to its ritual significance having passed down through oral tradition from the Bronze Age to historical times.

Close-up of cups

Folklore

The mid-nineteenth century Ordnance Survey Name Book has the following record, attested by Sir W.D. Stewart, Mr. T. Cameron & Mr. J. Cameron:-

“A small rock nearly level with the ordinary ground surface, underneath which it is traditionally held that a large sum of money is buried. In order to test the truth of this tradition, it is said that some years ago a man commenced to excavate the soil around the rock in order, if possible, to secure the hidden treasure, while so employed, a small dog suddenly appeared on the top of the rock and desired the man to desist, assuring him at the same time that the reputed treasure was really there, but it was never intended that the eye of mortal should behold it. There are some marks on the rock which the superstitious tell you are the prints of this very sagacious dog’s paws.”

References:

  1. Ordnance Survey Name Book: Perthshire – volume 50, page 63, 1859-62.

© Paul Hornby 2017, The Northern Antiquarian

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