|There are three tall stones at Carse, all aligned East-West – a pair (8 and 10ft tall) eight feet apart and a third (8ft) 130 yards to the NNW. Miss Campbell, in a little magazine 'The Kist" 8 (1974), relates how she visited the stones close to the Vernal Equinox and saw the setting sun dip into the hill directly over the singleton, when viewed from between the pair. She also mentions a long stone she found lying half buried in the grass near the field –gate leading to the pair of stones, and suggested this could have been another stone in the setting.
Miss Campbell's researches showed that at some date before 1864, drainers apparently found 'portions of thin Plates of Bronze, with embossed chevrony patterns, perforated', at the base of one of the standing stones. These were presented by a Mrs Campbell (perhaps her ancestor) to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, but when Miss M went to investigate she unfortunately found nothing in the box where they were supposed to be.
She talks of other local landmarks: the rocky outcrop overlooking the stones is known as Sron a'Mhionnain ('Cursing Nose') and condemned criminals were supposed to have been hurled from it. Below stood Clach a'Bhreitheamh (the Judge's Stone) which was a large boulder with a 'natural seat and canopy'. A drawing was made by the then Minister, but the chair was broken up in the 1890s for road-metal: "only its stump remains near the road".
She then tells a local legend which incorporates many local landmarks – a true hidden geography of the area. It is about a stand-off between two clans, perhaps the MacIvers and the MacNeills (and is even more detailed than my précis below). The MacNeills have raided the MacIvers' cattle near Loch Fyne and are making off up the Stronachullin, the old drove road that goes over Sliabh Gaoil, high above the springs of the Lergnahension river. They are on the downhill stretch back towards the sea, but the MacIvers catch them up at Carse. The fighting starts on the plain around the Stones. The MacIvers have a trick up their sleeves – they have brought their Wise Old Woman with them: but she can only work her magic from horseback. Naturally the MacNeills try to drag her to the ground. The MacIvers yell "Cur a'Chailleach air a capull!" – get the Old One back on her Mare!
The Wise Woman (being wise) decides not to hang about – she clings to her mare and makes for a notch in hill on the western skyline, 'Creag a'Stars'. On reaching it the horse leaps into the sky and they gallop away.
On one side of the road up to the notch there is a ledge that is always full of pebbles. People throw the pebbles from the roadside for a wish (three shots are allowed, white pebbles are advised, and the wish is granted if you can get a stone to stay on the ledge). There is also a hollow up here (Slochd na Chapuill) which was renowned for its unpredictable effect on horses ("it is honestly advisable to dismount and lead a pony through it") and another called Glac na h'Iomarte: the hollow of the conflict.
Unfortunately at the loss of their Wise Woman the determination of the MacIvers wavered. In Celtic stylee at least one of their heads was ceremonially cut off by the other clan and ritually washed in the deep pool, Slochd na Cinn ('the pool of the head'): today you can see fish leaping here towards the upper falls of the river.
Posted by Rhiannon
26th October 2004ce
Edited 26th October 2004ce