When planning my trip to Galloway I had resolved months previously that Torhouskie and the adjacent stone row would be the finale...on my visit to the area in 2014 I'd driven within a couple of miles, but, being more focussed on garden visits I'd not done much research beyond scanning a map and tourism website or two. Cairnholy 1 - Torhouskie 0. No regrets about Cairnholy... a 'must' for anyone even vaguely interested in stones, and Cairnholy 2 was subsequently my HH avatar for some time... but having subsequently researched more about other Galloway sites I felt chastened that Torhouskie had been overlooked. No mistake this time. It had been a gorgeous final day of site visiting.... Barsalloch, Blairbuy, Wren's Egg and Nest.. where fieldwalking had revealed things other than what had been expected or recorded, Drumtroddan, Rispain. Now, with the sun dropping to the horizon and a dreamed about sunset in prospect in minutes, everything had fallen into place. I had reached my goal, and the photos I'd hoped for a click away. I had not met any other site visitors all holiday, had places to myself, absorbed, photographed without heads appearing over stones or popping out from behind them, such a contast to my visit to Callanish in 2012. A holiday of solitary bliss. Apart from f**king my leg broching that is. I parked in the small layby adjacent, through that little gate. I had not looked at any images beforehand, and had not either realised or remembered from reading how small the stones were. Sunset shots would have to be achieved by lying down, contortion or a combination of the two. The fence surrounding the site is far too constricting, my only criticism of this place. I circled the stones within the fence, climbing up on its western side, trying to get as much of the sunlit side of the circle into shot as possible...holding my camera and smartphone above my head, hitting and hoping. In retrospect this was the one site where photography had way too much precedent over absorbing, chilling. I need to return as an act of contrition. I even forgot to pat. A cow over the other side of the fence stood looking at me balefully while performing its bodily functions while I teetered atop the wire. Fair comment, perhaps. Now for the artyfarty contrejour. I moved round towards the gate, laid down on the manicured grass, looked at the red sun on the horizon perhaps a little too long, got my silhouettes..such was the closeness of the fence that I could only get three stones in one shot in front of the smouldering orb however much I pressed against the wire. I felt I had done my best. The stone row awaited on a rise over the other side of the road. I closed the gate and as I got to the other side of the road a car drew up. Visitors. I had missed them by under a minute. My site solitude record remained intact. Thank you circle, thank you sun. Sometimes things work out.
Easy. On the B733, west of Wigtown. Historic Scotland site. Signposted with small car park.
This is a superb stone circle. It may not be 'Premier League' i.e. Castlerigg but it is a very good 'Championship League' standard. The 3 central stones certainly gives it that something extra. Fortunately the circle is fenced to protect it from the cows which also occupy the field.
Dafydd and Sophie played in and around the stones (as they often seem to do at stone circles) whilst I sat and tried to take it all in.
I noticed, what looked like, a low ring of stones sticking out of the grass forming a circle between the inner stones and the outer stones? Also, on the other side of the wall is another large boulder-type stone. Is this connected to the circle?
As I (and others) have already said this is an excellent place to visit and well worth travelling a long way to see. Do so if you can - it won't disappoint.
I've wanted to do this for ages, watch the sunrise from Swinside stone circle in the Lake district then M6 it up and into Scotland, A75 to Newton Stewart in time for sunset at Torhousekie stone circle, they both have solstice alignments, Swinside's over the right hand portal stones, and at Torhousekie the three central stones are aligned on the winter solstice sunset, and the summer solstice sunrise, but I did that one years ago.
It was even possible to get to a few close to sites as well, it all worked a treat, apart from a bungle at the beginning. But everywhere we'd been was just leading up to this place, the cloud cover was 50/50, the sun came and went quickly, but would, it seemed be in attendance at the crucial moment. We sat and watched for a while, but it was windy and cold so Eric wrapped himself in blankets and lay down out of the wind by the central stones, which was fine for a while. But then the groovy sky lights started to dance and I took to frenzied photo mode, trying, mostly in vain to not include my 11 year old vagrant. In the end, the cold, and being in the way drove him back to the welcoming warmth of the car.
Freed of parental considerations I swung into action, balancing on gate posts, teetering on wall corners, ducking, diving, crouching and standing still like a normal person as the light dictated. It was Gymnastics meets photography, Photonastics perhaps.
Then I sat and watched for a bit more, it is a fantastic world, is it not? if this all happens by complete chance, then we really are a lucky bunch of buggers aren't we, then I wished the boy hadn't gone off to the car, moments like this were made for sharing. I'll go and get him and go for a look see at the last of the golden glow from the three stone row over the road.
A sweet little circle, with lovely rounded stones. As we were staying only a few minutes drive away, it was great to zip down on an evening and watch the sunset, with the place to ourselves. Loved this place!
Strange anomaly in one of the stones here. It has a sort of 'hole' in its surface, revealing a chunk of crystally quartzy stuff. It tempted me to wonder if the whole stone was a big chunk of quartz, with a layer of something else covering the crystal. Admittedly not very likely, but an entertaining thought to mull over whilst moping about the stones in the pouring rain.
Couldn't help but wish the HS enclosure fence was a bit larger, the poor stones seemed to be a bit hemmed in. But at least they're being looked after.
If it wasn't for the gate, wheelchair access would be a doddle, being as it is, right next to the road.
An improbably warm late October day meant we could sit at the centre of the circle for more than an hour, sleeves rolled up and just take it all in. The views are magnificent and even with the road so close by, only the odd intrusion of 21st century life challenged the sense of timelessness.
'tis lovely to sit and look across at the stone row in the field opposite - I'm sure all part of a bigger site at one time. They appear interlinked but the road dissects them and it's difficult to visualise. Also walked down the road to the cairn but little left to see (unless we were looking in the wrong place?) I had read that a single standing stone is also linked to the site, south of the circle, but we didn't find it. Never-the-less, this was enough to make us both very happy indeed.
This is a crackin' site. We approached from Wigton seeing the stone row first.
The setting of the circle is beautiful, we'd been looking at circles in the hills and this made a lovely constrast with it's setting on it's own platform in the fertile fields of the Machars.
The circle is in excellent nick and draws you into itself and the landscape.
As we travelled through the landscape we began to realise that a lot of these monuments are orientated NE-SW, this goes for the nearby row and the possible row in the cowfield.
Burl draws comparisons between the centre stone and it's flankers with the Recumbant circles of NE Scotland.
The first circle at the start of a strange weekend in 2000. I decided to take myself off after work on the Saturday, not knowing where I was going. I phoned my parents to let them know where in the world I was. I told my mother I had set up camp at Newton Stewart just up the road from the Stone Circle. There was a silence atthe other end of the line.... I asked what was wrong and my mother said it was weird, they had spent their honeymoon at Newton Stewart...... 33 years ago to the very day.
I had no knowledge of that, I didn't even know it was their wedding anniversary.
I spent a couple of hours here reflecting, and left calmed - and ready for a chinese :o)
It was a surprisingly calm and mild Sunday morning when we arrived - so mild, in fact, that we were eaten alive by swarms of bloodthirsty midges - in January!
Situated just off the road, (complete with a small car park - minimum walking effort required) Torhousekie is an impressive place. The only sounds are cattle, sheep and the occasional car, so it has a certain 'desolate ambience' to it. There are also 3 more stones on the other site of the road worth checking out. Well worth a visit - just be sure to pack some insect repellent!
Zealous Antiquaries, strange to tell, have not yet succeeded in manufacturing the Standing Stones of Torhows into pigsties and byres 'for their better preservation,' as they have done with most Galloway antiquities; and so they stand there yet, and enduring testimony to the authenticity of the ancient traditions of the district.
In my young days there used to be four stones standing on the high side of the road, and twenty three on the low side of it, and they were arranged in a circle.
The tradition about them was that in those ancient times the Picts, when hard pressed, formed themselves into a ring and defended themselves in that way from attacks on all sides, and as soon as they saw a weak place in the ranks of the enemy, they lengthened the ring into a triangle or wedge and forced a way through their opponents; and it is recorded that the Galloway men or Albanich as they called themselves, who were the descendants of the Picts, fought in a wedge-shaped phalanx at the battle of the Standard in eleven hundred and something.
Well, it happened that the Picts at Torrhows were like to be beaten at one time, and were obliged to form a circle, and there was a most desperate struggle till the king came up with assistance, and a great many of the chiefs or great men, who fought in the front rank, were killed by the Danes.
When the battle was over and they assembled to bury the dead, a great stone was set up wherever any of the chiefs fell fighting, to mark the spot, and it is said that there were originally sixty stones, one for every chief killed, and the place was therefore called Torrhows, which means something about a bur[y]ing-ground, though I never heard it said that any of the chiefs were buried at the stones.
It was said at one time that the Laird was going to hoke them all up to send to Edinburgh, to try if they would give him F.S.A. to put to his name, but I think it hasn't been done yet.
A not altogether serious account from Galloway Gossip by Robert Trotter (1877).
Like Cairnholy this is supposed to be the grave of the legendary King Galdus.
Symson, in his Description of Galloway, written in 1684, says--"
"In the high-way betwixt Wigton and Port-Patrick, about three miles westward of Wigton, is a plaine, called the 'Moor of Standing Stones of Torhouse,' in which there is a monument of three large whin-stones (called King Galdus's Tomb,) surrounded, at about twelve foot distance, with nineteen considerable great stones, (but none of them so great as the three first mentioned,) erected in a circumference.
In this moor, and not far form the tomb, are great heaps of small stones, (which the country people call Cairns) supposed by them to be the burial-place of the common soldiers. As also, at several placeds, distant from the monument, are here and there great single stones erected, which are also supposed to be the burial-place of his commanders and men of note." (Symson's MS Account of Galloway, Advocates' Library.)
The manuscript is quoted by Thomas Murray in his 'The Literary History of Galloway' published 1822, and now online at Google Books.
One of the cairns nearby had its cist slab removed in the 19th century, and it was taken away to be used as a cover for a water conduit. Several people claimed to have seen a light emerging from the cairn at night, and moving along the route the slab was taken. On reaching the slab it would rest on it for a while before (presumably) disappearing.
The last paragraph of information on Wikipedia mentions a hollowed out stone in the nearby stone dyke which travellers deposit a stone in whilst passing, I have just uploaded a picture of this stone, and strangely it had a couple of polished pebbles in it when i visited.
An entry from Ancient Stones, an online database that covers most of the standing stones, stone circles and other stones found in South East Scotland. Each entry includes details, directions, photograph, folklore, parking and field notes on each location.
Visit Torhousekie Stone Row and you have to visit Torhousekie Stone Circle..and vice versa. Whether they are contemporary chronologically I know not, but they are duo. Little and large. Ish. The same layby for both. Through the little gate on the east side of the road...the stone row's on top of a rise, you don't have to search for it. I approached and as I walked a herd of cows came into view. Most were a few hundred yards away, and the few nearer, initially hesitantly inquisitive, ambled off to join their kind. Cud and grass more interesting than prat with a ponytail. I eyed them with caution nonetheless. They had been an almost constant factor throughout my trip. At Cairn Pat near Stranraer I'd not got within half a mile of the site, I'd not liked the look of the bovines in front of me, a voice inside said 'no' and I'd taken heed. At Fort Point I'd been extremely circumspect but, hunch correct, no problem. Bulls were an automatic no, apart from at Caves of Kilhern, where I hadn't spotted one till my return leg. These ones looked OK. Onward. Mind the pats. The three stones looked bedded down for the night against the the last rays of the setting sun. I moved round to their eastward side to get silhouette shots, only achievable by lying down due to their short stature. The cowpats just about permitted, their creators, heads down at distance, munched away. I got what I wanted, circled round them, took in the stone circle, listened to the sounds of its visitors happy chatter as they posed and took their pictures, looked at the horizon and land about and the late sunset's glow. Trip over. I turned to go. Supper, tent and drive home in the morning. I walked slowly down towards the car. Then I heard a rumble. Turned. There were about twenty cows coming over the rise. Running. At me. I was being charged. It is an interesting experience. I looked round at that little gate. It was too far. I knew I wouldn't make it. I froze, then realised all I could do was face them and hope. Run and I feared they would follow, and overtaking and its consequence would be inevitable. I made myself look as big as I could, stood four square, looked straight at the head of the herd. Whatever would be would be. On they came, then as the leaders passed the westernmost stone they wheeled round it, perhaps fortyfive feet away. Surreally as the leaders did so I said to myself 'it's like Ben Hur', meaning the chariot race in the Colosseum, where the speeding vehicles had wheeled round 180 degrees at each end of the central barrier. It felt like I wasn't there, watching on a big screen. I then knew I was safe, spared. I turned round and the stone circles visitors were still there, prattling away, happy, oblivious. I stood quietly, and then, anger overtook me. Anger at myself and at at the cows. I didn't want the end of such a great holiday to be like this. Bloodymindedly I retraced my steps to the stones. The cows were back where they'd been, heads down, munching as if nothing had happened. I stood and pointedly took a couple more shots, trying to do likewise. Then a bull appeared in the distant gloaming and promptly proceeded to fulfil its function. I walked back to the gate as unobtrusively as I could, got into my car and thought. Sometimes you think that something's going to turn out one way and the opposite occurs. Torhousekie, I decided, would not be the end of my site visits and holiday, whatever the light. I looked at the map. Hole Stone looked ten minutes drive away. Goodbye stones, goodbye cattle. I was still alive and would do something I loved. Onward.
A hundred yards away and across the road from the stone circle is this three stone row. More of less aligned on the winter solstice sunset and summer solstice sunrise. The stones aren't really big, two to three feet high, with some field clearance in between.
We were here apres sunset on the winter solstice, the sun had gone down and all the clouds to the east were a gorgeous golden colour.
The stone row has a draw all of it's own but to have such a good stone circle over the road, makes this a must see site, and with all the other stuff nearby, forts, standing stones and other circles, burial chambers and rock art make this whole area a must see place.