Copyright: George Currie
A probable single stone row perhaps measuring up to 1174m long and including up to seven large orthostats situated on a north facing slope. Five of the stones are upright and two maybe buried below small mounds. The row is orientated north to south and there are cairns and at least one other standing stone in the vicinity. The uncertainty implied by this description emphasises its enigmatic character, but it is possible to be relatively confident that there is a stone row on this hillside.
|Scotland||Perth and Kinross||Central Scotland||NN 78948 16756|
|Lat 56.3276672 Long -3.9592101|
Map showing the location of Dunruchan Stones stone row.
Standing stones (A – F) and mounds (1 – 5) at Dunruchan. (Source: Google Maps and fieldwork by Sandy Gerrard and George Currie).
|Type: Single||Length: 1174m|
|No. of stones: 7?||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: Seven widely spaced stones. At least four form an alignment and a second row originally consisting of 4 stones may survive to the south.|
|Public Access: Yes|
|Scheduled Ancient Monument: Yes Yes Yes Yes|
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.
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.
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).
This dramatic stone tapers significantly and has a pronounced lean. View from south west.
This stone stands in the centre of a flat topped cairn. View from the east.
The flat topped cairn on the sky line. View from the west.
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.
Stone D in the foreground and stone E in the background. (Copyright: George Currie).
View from the south west with stone D in the background.
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.
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.
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°.
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.
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.
A probable cairn situated close to and east of stones D and E. View from south east with stone D in the background.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VISITED:- 5th May 2016
FIRST PUBLISHED:- 12th February 2016
LAST UPDATED:- 21st March 2018