Dunruchan Stones

Dunruchan D

Copyright: George Currie

Location

Scotland Perth and Kinross Central Scotland NN 79109 17134
Lat 56.33118035   Long -3.95685374

Dunruchan Map 5

Standing stones (A – F) and mounds (1 – 5) at Dunruchan. (Source: Google Maps and fieldwork by Sandy Gerrard and George Currie).

Characteristics

Type: Single Length: 1005m
No. of stones: 4 Size of stones: Only large
Orientation: 9° Altitude: 228m
Upper end: – Lower end: –
Straight (Yes or No)  : No Sea View: No
Context:  Cairns and standing stone
Notes: Six widely spaced stones. At least four form an alignment and a second row originally consisting of 4 stones may survive to the south.

Other Information

Public Access:  Yes
Land Status:
Scheduled Ancient Monument: Yes   Yes   Yes   Yes

Identification

Category: Probable. There is almost certainly at least one stone row at Dunruchan. The uncertainty relates to whether there were two conjoined rows, one relatively short row or one very long row. There really is no way of resolving this question and therefore the site remains somewhat enigmatic.  Interestingly the closest parallel to this row is provided by its nearest neighbour the Sheriff Muir Row which also survives as a series of large well-spaced stones.


 

Photographs

Stone A

Stone A

This substantial stone does not form part of the alignment but is likely to have originally formed an integral part of this significant ritual landscape.

Stone B

Dunruchan Stone BStones A, C and F are visible from this stone. This stone forms part of the northern alignment.

Stone C

Dunruchan C

View from the south west. All the standing stones on this hill are visible from this stone. This stone forms part of the northern alignment. (Copyright: George Currie).

Dunruchan Stone C

This dramatic stone tapers significantly and has a pronounced lean. View from south west.

Stone D

Dunruchan Stone D (1)

This stone stands in the centre of a flat topped cairn. View from the east.

Dunruchan Stone D (2)

The flat topped cairn on the sky line. View from the west.

Dunruchan Stone D

An elongated hollow leading away from the stone is surrounded by a low rubble bank. The most plausible explanation is that the standing stone once rested here and the rubble bank was created when it was dug out of the cairn and re-erected.  On the basis of the field evidence it would therefore seem that the stone had fallen or more likely had been felled and then the cairn built over and around it. It is most likely that this happened in antiquity. The date at which it was re-erected is less certain although a prehistoric date cannot be ruled out.  The idea that the stone was felled, incorporated in a cairn and later re-erected is certainly supported by the evidence, is of considerable interest and has implications for the interpretations of mounds 1 and 2.

Dunruchan B

Stone D in the foreground and stone E in the background. (Copyright: George Currie).

Stone E

Stone E

View from the south west with stone D in the background.

Dunruchan Stone E (1)

This stone also seems to be associated with a cairn. It too may have been pushed over and covered with cairn material, but the evidence is much less convincing than with stone D. View from north east.

Stone F

Dunruchan Stone F

This stone stands in the valley bottom near to Craigneich Farm. Given its position its survival is remarkable. This stone may represent the northern end of the longer stone alignment. View from the south.

Mound 1

Dunruchan Mound 1

One of a pair of mounds south of and aligned on stones D and E. If one accepts that the other two stones had been felled, covered by a cairn and re-erected, the possibility exists that these mounds may have been built upon further stones that were not re-erected. Alternatively they may be cairns that were built taking cognisance of either the stones or the cairns that replaced them.  Whatever the explanation their presence adds to the complexity of the monument and its significance. If one accepts that these mounds cover two further stones this would represent a second alignment at Dunruchan consisting of 4 stones extending over a length of 158m at 38°.

Mound 3

Dunruchan Mound 3 (1)

A rock outcrop surrounded by cairn material may be the remains of a boulder cairn similar in character to those in the south west of England.

DunruchanMound 3

The possible boulder cairn with stone D on the skyline and stone E to the right of the large boulder. The edges of this cairn are most pronounced on the west. This feature enhances the prehistoric context of the alignment. View from the west.

Mound 4

Dunruchan Mound 4

A probable cairn situated close to and east of stones D and E. View from south east with stone D in the background.

Mound 5

Dunruchan Mound 5

A substantial long mound close to the alignment. Stones D and E are visible in the background. Occasional protruding stones suggest that it may be a cairn and its proximity to the alignment enhances the theory that it may be prehistoric.  The earthworks of a pair of medieval long houses at NN 79184 16929 attest to activity in this area during the historic period, but this earthwork is more likely have had a prehistoric origin. View from the north looking along the length of the mound.

Discussion

It is clear that this area was special to the people who lived here in the prehistoric period. A number of large stones were erected and whilst widely spaced some at least are arranged along a common alignment and if one accepts that mounds 1 and 2 may cover two further stones it is possible that there were originally two separate alignments each sharing stone D. Further work would be needed to confirm this, but on the basis of the available evidence a strong case can be made for two alignments at Dunruchan. The wide spacing of the stones within the northern alignment means it is not typical of other rows in Central Scotland, but work elsewhere in Britain has demonstrated considerable variation in form and this site falls within the accepted definitions for this type of monument. For some the spacing may be too great for comfort, but the fact that all the stones are visible from stone C and at least one other stone is visible from the other stones means that it meets the recognised criteria. The extremely interesting aspect of the southern alignment is that fieldwork has indicated that the row here may have been toppled with the individual stones being “ritually” covered by cairns and then two of them being re-erected.  Dunruchan may have much more to tell us about ritual in the prehistoric period.

Dunruchan Map 7
Stone alignments at Dunruchan. The northern alignment (red) consists of four widely spaced stones whilst the southern row includes two standing stones and two mounds which may cover a second pair of stones.

Access Information

The row is best visited in two stages. Stone F can be reached by parking on the road verge at NN 79302 17844. The remainder of the stones can be reached by walking from NN 78036 15154.


Online Resources 

Megalithic Portal     Modern Antiquarian     Canmore

Other References

Burl, A., 1993, From Carnac to Callanish – The prehistoric rows and avenues of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press, New York and London, pg. 224.

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