Denoon Law is one of those sites that appears to have been bypassed by the modern world... it doesn't feature in any guide I've seen.... indeed in ANY book I've seen. Yet it is most certainly very much a dominating feature of this wee corner of Scotland.... a very substantial fortress, indeed.
To be fair I probably wouldn't have come here had it not happened to lay more or less between last night's stopover in Glenisla and Brechin. But there you are... it did. So I duly arrive upon a cloudless morning of stunning - if rather severe - light. The field gate is closed but unlocked.... so I reckon I'll take a quick shufti, so to speak. The eastern flank is protected by what appears to be an initial bank and ditch, a 'barbican' to hold up a surprise assault and give the inhabitants time to respond, no doubt. Otherwise Denoon Law is univallate, just the one rampart forming the defences of the enclosure. Hey, but what defences they are! Having said that, Canmore's dimensions would seem excessive....
The foundations of what would appear to be a large rectangular structure lie within... a substantial hall, perhaps? Oh to be a fly on the wall of that mead hall. What stories, what tall tales! And then there is the beautiful, fertile countryside Denoon Law oversees. To be honest that is that. Nice 'n' simple. But then (near) perfection usually is. Yeah, I reckon Denoon Law is that good.
As I frantically snap away upon the camera, well aware that the light contrast is pushing my photography skills well beyond normal operating parameters, a rather young chap attired in farm overalls arrives upon a quad bike. 'Can I ask what you are doing?', says he. Seems not for the first time my camera tripod has been mistaken for a metal detector from afar. Nae bother, however. Once he determines the truth he simply wants to talk... seems there is a Roman fort nearby, local folklore adorned with tales of pesky Pictish warriors causing serious problems for the local legionnaries. Methinks Denoon was not a favoured posting in those days....
Anyway there is work to be done feeding cattle and wotnot - hey, 'farmer things' - so I'm left alone upon Denoon Law's mighty ramparts for a few hours in the sun. Yeah, there are worse places to spend time. It is a good place to be. Eventually, however, it is time to leave Denoon and head for Turin Hill. But that's another story.
There's a story about the hill in 'The Vale of Strathmore - its scenes and legends' by James Guthrie (1875). But it's couched in the most outrageous language ('when the silvery moonbeams lovingly slept in dreamy beauty..') and it's too excruciating to copy out. Whether it's even based on local tradition is a good point. But according to the RCAHMS record, the fort has a wall an impressive 8m thick and 5m high. So you'd think it'd capture local attention.
It seems the fairies had decided they couldn't have any human beings building places to live inside the fort. So they did a deal with some evil spirits - if anyone tried to live there, their attempts would have to be 'blasted in the bud'. Of course, soon someone turned up and started work. That evening, the demons did their duty and hurled all the stones into the vale below. The next morning the builder was a bit surprised but started afresh on some even more sturdy foundations. Rather meanly the demons allowed him to continue a bit longer this time. But then they demolished it all as before. Not learning from experience the man rounded up lots more workers and began again. But of course their efforts were all swept away once more. He was only pursuaded to get lost once and for all by the demons shrieking at him 'Go build the castle in a bog, where it will neither shake nor shog!' Hmm.