|I set off at noon today with the bike in the back of the car, sandwiches and tea in the rucsac, and a long list of lost sites I was going to re-find. The sun was shining, the sky blue, and just a light crisp breeze in the air - perfect conditions for cycling. But this was always going to be an uphill struggle!
Parking at the Drummond Hill forest car park near Kenmore, I assembled my trusty steed, and set off in search of stones. Coles mentions a circle of stones close to Comrie Bridge, which the RCAHMS dismissed as just four boulders. Here hindsight came into play - if I had been clever I would have checked Coles' original article before I left, but I didn't. If I had, I'd have seen that the stones he mentions actually make a circle of 5, and are "a mile and a furlong" due south of Comrie Castle, so I was looking in the wrong spot - I shall return!
Having admitted defeat, I carried on across the bridge up to the main road, along to Keltneyburn and down through Fortingall, waving at the three circles (Fortingall), the ancient yew and cup-marked rock in Fortingall Churchyard and Clach a' Phlaigh atop the Carn na Marbh. All of these sites had been "done" several times before, and I was on a quest of re-discovery!
Turning north on to the Glen Lyon road, I cycled through the Pass of Lyon, looking down over the impressive Macgregor's Leap, resplendent in its autumn plumage. It wasn't long before I was passing through the wood known in Gaelic as Coille Dhubh - the Black Wood. Legend has it there are two standing stones in here, close to the road - the Stone of the Devil Cat and the Stone of the Demon. Neither was immediately obvious, as there are many likely-looking candidates around here, so I made an executive decision and decided to do a bit more research before I return for an exhaustive search. Another failure!
Next on the list was a stone opposite Invervar at Dericambus, which isn't listed anywhere but certainly seems to fit the bill as a potential standing stone. I've seen a photo of it, but have yet to see it for myself as it nestles high above the glen's floor. By the time I reached Invervar, the sun was already low in the sky, so yet another stone had to be saved for another day. With my itinerary torn to shreds, and the prospect of seeing any stones heading downhill fast (unlike my cycle back along Glen Lyon which was uphill slow!), I turned around and headed for home.
Leaving for Fearnan and Loch Tay, I passed the field at Bridge of Lyon jam-packed with features - Uaigh an t-Seanalair (also known as Pontius Pilate's grave!), Bridge of Lyon Long Cairn and the Bridge of Lyon Standing Stones, again, all much visited by myself and the Scottish Megaraks in the past (most recently a week previously). And the wild goose chase (perhaps) that is Cromrar. As Moth, pebblesfromheaven, nickbrand and others will testify, looking for cup-marked rocks at Cromrar is like looking for a rock in a field full of rocks!
Turning east along the edge of Loch Tay, the sun falling fast behind me, I made my way back to the car, vowing to do it all again next weekend, but with hopefully more success!
I tried (and failed!) to find these stones today. My mistake was to only read the CANMORE entry, and not download the PSAS report by Fred Coles. CANMORE only quotes a footnote by Coles in which he describes information given to him about four "'great stones' close to Comrie Bridge" - he dismisses these as just boulders. But it wasn't these that he was describing as a circle of 5 stones - the circle is apparently a mile and a furlong south of Comrie Castle (which is next to Comrie Bridge). So I was looking in the wrong area today (as presumably were the RCAHMS, given the bit they quote), but I shall return with the PSAS description soon and see what I can find.
As anyone who's familiar with the Glen Lyon road through Coille Dhubh will know, there are a lot of lumps of rock beside the road. One of them may well be the "tall upright Clach Taghairm nan Cat" described by Archie McKerracher, but I couldn't be sure. I will try to find out his source for the story, and see if the present road was always the route into Glen Lyon, and then return for another look.
Posted by BigSweetie
16th November 2003ce
Edited 18th November 2003ce
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