Very depressing place in my opinion, probably lots to do with the cemetery it sits beside. I mean, I quite like some graveyards, but this is a depressing place. Not much beauty.
Maybe it's nicer in summer.
I've been here before, sometimes just sitting in the parked car in the rain. I came here this morning, walking from the town of Denny 2 miles to the west. It was a bit overcast, but so warm, and you could smell the soil and the grass for the first time this year. It felt like the first day of spring and my serotonin was doing it's feel good best.
The smaller, less conical hill is fenced off, and I left it there as there were cemetery workers keeping a suspicious eye on me. I walked around the larger more formed hill to the SE and took it in from all angles. What a site!
It's over 20metres high and 60 metres diameter at the base and has steep sides and a flattish top.
I climbed on top of the larger hill and watched the maturing Carron flow east and listened to the rushing of the motorway behind me. Despite all the pylons, the M-way and b-roads there is something very special and calming about sitting up on the flattened summit. I sat for ages until a funeral procession arrived in the modern cemetery below me, and at that I left.
I crossed the bridge and walked down the south side of the Carron for a few hundred yards to try and figure where the old ford was. I found an old industrial wier, so I gave up on the ford.
Walking on to Larbert on the B905 I turned back and realised that this was the direction I should have travelled from. Coming from Larbert on this road, you turn a corner and the valley floor opens up before you with the SE hill resting magically and with prominence, like a small Silbury.
The Romans documented that here at the Hills of Dunipace, there was at least one peace treaty brokered between them and local Celts in the 3rd century. The Roman Emperor, Severus came here in person for this purpose in 210, Severus's son Caragill may have returned here soon after for more peace talks and the usurper, Carausius brokered another deal in 286. In the past it was thought that the hills were erected to commemorate one, two or all of these treaties.
William Wallace is said to have met with King Robert Bruce here in 1298. Wallace supposedly persuaded the Royal Bruce that he should fight on, in the interests of Scotland and it's people, and not sell the Scottish crown to England through land deals.
Edward I of England came here on 14 October, 1301 to sign a peace warrant with Scotland in order to appease the French King (who was an ally of the Scots at the time).
Other similar hills in the valley were excavated and were thought to be natural remains of the post glacial beach. On top of one nearby (and less prominent) hill, which was destroyed for road building materials, was found an ancient burial cist with remains. The use of natural features like this, for sacred purpose was also uncovered by the archeos, at nearby Cambusbarron (-at Dunipace, burial continues to this day - the site was Christianised in the 12th century by the erection of a chapel at the foot of the hills, the remains of which can be seen beside the modern cemetery). Thankfully, the hills at Dunipace have been left more or less untampered by the archeos, but it looks pretty much like these hills are mostly natural. However, the almost perfectly flattened top of the SE hill makes me think that it may have been artificially flattened for ceremonial use. The NW hill was badly damaged by flooding in the 16th century so it's impossible to say if this one had the same flat top.
Arthurian madman/scholar, August Hunt, in his online book, the Road to Avalon, theorises that King Ban and his wife left the Stirling area with his son, the infant Lancelot, and crossed the Carron here at Dunipace.
The area is at the heart of UFO country; The town of Bonnybridge is just a few hundred yards away at the other side of the nearby roundabout.
In the early 80's, the company, 'Rechem', now called 'Shanks' ran a plant which incinerated, amongst other things, the life neutering, 'poly chloro biphenyls (PCB's) right across the road from the hills, at the other side of the roundabout. There was a higher rate of local children born with abnormalities (in particular, eye deformities) and a local farmer had a horrendous amount of cattle born with deformities. The farmer was powerless against the well paid lawyers who represented Rechem and indeed the law (as it still stands). You've still got to prove that these things were not caused by other factors - and that's impossible. There was a lot of publicity around at the time in the local and Scottish press - and Rechem eventually closed shop and sloped off in 1984 and still have (hopefully more efficient) plants in Wales and England. There's not much talk of infant eye problems and cattle deformities in the area these days.
A footnote - Dennis Thatcher was a Rechem shareholder.
The etymology of 'Dunipace' has been a bit contentious.
The popular theory is that after the Roman peace treaty [or treaties] the name was given as a hybrid of the Scots, 'Dun' and the Roman-Latin, 'Pax', meaning the Hills of Peace.
Another, less popular theory is that it comes from the Welsh, 'din-ya-pas', meaning 'Hills of the Pass'. This is backed up by the fact that there was an important ford nearby on the River Carron. This ford is likely to have given this unusual place an added focus since ancient times.
Another theory is that ot derives from the Gaelic, 'duin-na-bais', meaning 'Hills of Death'. This may come from the strong possibility that the hills were used for burial/cremation purposes (see folklore).
This 'death' may also be the 'death' of old ways; rebirth. This interpretation would be consistent with the various treaties and changes of direction which were decided here (see folklore). This death of old ways/rebirth/resolution would also tie in with the obvious maternal aesthetics of these two great mounds by the river, which were surely not lost on our ancestors. I get the strong feeling that this place was strongly revered by the ancients and I dont want a pick and shovel to prove it and subsequently demystify this place.
The prominence of the SE hill in the flat valley and indeed the dimensions of the SE hill remind me so much of Silbury. Is Dunipace another possible proto-Silbury site? I think so. (see photos of SE hill from W. and from River Carron)
I think this place is both very special and misunderstood - it's not just a place of peace or death - it's a place of all of this - and also a place of resolution - because that's what's needed more than just peace.
Sitting there today (for whatever today stood for), I thought about this place's past and the whole UFO shenanigans and I decided that Neil Young's, 'After the Goldrush' was my theme for this place. (get to! can if I want?!).
-'Flying mother nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun'-
and what's more resolute than that?!
However, the aliens ignored my inner pleas and I'm still here typing and if your still reading this..............