About two years ago the tenant was engaged in levelling and improving a field on the eastern extremity of Craigengelt in which there was a large cairn or mound, known in the country by the name of the "Ghost's Knowe." It was quite circular, exactly 300 feet in circumference at the base, and which was flanked around by twelve very large stones, placed at equal distances, and it was 12 feet high, with a slight inclination to one side, and fiat on top. On removing the turf and soil, it was found that the interior consisted of large and small stories built together with great care, which led the proprietor to think that it must have been a place of Druidical sepulture. From the Statistical Account of Stirlingshire (1841), online at Tom Paterson's webpages.
About 6 feet from the centre, there stood four upright stones, each about 3 feet in height, describing an oblong figure like a bed. Within this a coffin was found, the length of which was about 7 feet, at broad, and at deep. The under part or bottom of the coffin was whin-flag, as was also the upper part or lid. Within this were found the remains of a human body of the ordinary size. The hones, except a very small part of the skull, were of the consistence of soft chalk,-the body had been enveloped in something like a mixture of decayed vegetable matter and tar, which, when exposed to the atmosphere, emitted a strong odour.
Strict orders were given to the labourers that if anything like a coffin should be found, they were not to open it until either the proprietor or tenant were present. But one of them, an old schoolmaster, who knew something of antiquities, went during the night, and carried off a variety of articles, the nature and number of which are not now likely ever to be ascertained. With reluctance, he gave up a stone axe of beautiful workmanship and a gold ring. The ring had had a jewel in it; but the jewel was out, and it was what is called "chased," and must have been worn on a very small finger. A labourer in the neighbourhood sold a variety of things of a rare description to a gentleman in whose possession, it is believed, they still are. The axe and the ring were the only things obtained by the proprietor, J. Dick, Esq. of Craigengelt, and they are still in his possession.
The RCAHMS record says "The divergence between the stone relics and the gold ones suggests that whereas the cairn originally contained a battle-axe burial, a secondary deposit, probably of Roman or medieval date, had been made in it."
Posted by Rhiannon
11th April 2006ce