Easy to get to. After visiting the ancient yew, turn left down the road (church behind you) and in about 100 yards look in the field on your right. Access is through a gate and a gentle walk will get you to the stones.
I took a wander down to the stones after checking out the yew and the cupmarked stone in the churchyard.
In looks as though the field is being left for hay and all three rings are currently pretty overgrown.
It's a crackin' spot on the valley floor, I guess these rings would have made quite an impression on prehistoric visitors to this beautiful Glen.
Drove past these about 6 times last week, on the road to and from Glen Lyon. Decided we would leave it until the final day to explore and this proved wise.....not only was the sun shining and the skies blue, but the farmer had kindly cut the field, so instead of having to wade through knee high grass, I had an incredibly easy time of it!
Parked at the Church and walked across to the field. It was quite sad in a way, to see the Stones so battered and neglected but the site is quite a little beauty! Although the field had been cut, the Stones were partially hidden by the grasses and nettles growing in between. Didn't spend as much time here as I would've liked as we were on the long journey home.
In a field just to the E of the picturesque village of Fortingall, on the banks of the River Lyon, stand three groups of standing stones. Closest to the road are a group of four stones (NE) and a group of three stones (SW), while further into the field, closer to the river, is another group of three (S). All are water-worn, smooth, rounded boulders.
In 1970, the two settings closest to the road (NE & SW) were excavated by archaeologists from Leicester University including Aubrey Burl. It was found that both had been four-poster variants, each comprising of four large stones at the corners of a rectangle, with four smaller stones mid-way between the larger ones. In both cases, the missing five stones had been pushed over and buried deeply in prepared pits at some point in the nineteenth century. The date is known as one of the stones was found to have a Victorian beer bottle under it.
Excavation showed that the SW circle originally had a floor of tiny pebbles within it, and stones of quartz were found by the SSW stone. To the SW of the circle part of an Iron Age jet ring was found. At the centre of the NE circle, a burnt patch containing pieces of charcoal and cremated bone was found.
The S setting wasn't subjected to a full excavation in 1970, but an exploratory excavation at the time revealed a stone hole 4.6m to the NW of the W stone, suggesting a circle of 14.6m in diameter. The three remaining stones stand in an almost straight line aligned SE-NW, but taking into account the stone hole, it would appear that this is the remains of an Aberdeenshire-style recumbent stone circle rather than a stone row or four-poster variant like it's neighbours.
Thursday 1 May 2003
The Fortingall stone circles were a site that I’d stopped at before, but not been right up to. On that occasion the field had had a particularly large number of cattle in it, including what looked like a few pretty lively bullocks.
I nearly didn’t even get out of the car on this visit, this time because it was absolutely chucking it down!!! As at Croft Moraig earlier in the day though, I found I couldn’t resist, and luckily the rain eased for just long enough to have a decent look around the stones.
Must admit, maybe it’s just me but I think they look more impressive from the road. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely site and very interesting, but once I got up to them the stones of the 3 circles look somehow less ‘erected’ and more just…well, ‘dumped’, if you know what I mean. Still essential viewing though!
We (my partner , my 2 boys and myself) visited Fortingall on the recommendation of one of the guides at the Kenmore Crannog Centre last August 2000.
We parked and set up the stove in the car park next to the hotel and cooked lunch (today, (19/11/01), we had rice cakes and baked beans with curry powder - not a meal we have a lot - and Al. remarked that this was the same lunch we had at Fortingall - I'd only posted this message yesterday and I replied that I should tell you all what we had for lunch at Fortingall - Al. told me not to be so stupid).
After lunch we visited the kirk and the yew tree and then took a walk to the 3 little stone circles down the road.
What a beautiful little site!
This village really did leave an impression on us all (well the adults anyway).
I stayed in the Fortingall Hotel and was well recieved by Dave a hotelier with a curiosity for ancient sites. Opposite the Hotel, just up the lane, in a field is a group of 3 small circles made of dumpy squat stones, close to one another in a triangle. They're on the level, in a flat field and give a cute and friendly feel. We also visited the stones at the Appin of Dull but they were just visable in a Tatty field from the road. There is a wonderful range of different sites and monuments all around this area, different ages and states of repair and a lot of local knowledge of them.
The Samhain festival was celebrated at Fortingall right up until 1924, when it was apparently stopped by the local keeper - the building of the bonfire each year was taking away the cover in the surrounding area for the game!
The yew tree in the village kirkyard is at least five thousand years old. It is claimed that this magic and ancient thing is the oldest living thing on our planet outside of North America.
Pontious Pilate was reported to have been born and brought up here. the legend says that Pilate was the child of a local woman, and a Roman dignitary. The yew tree would have been at least 3000 years old when Pilate was born. Did he climb it as a boy?
By the time the influence of Jesus' crucifixion and the subsequent religion of Christianity returned to this village, and the sacred site of the tree was claimed by the Roman church, the yew was then about 4000 years old.
The location of this place adds to the magic. The village sits at the bottom of the longest glaciated U-shaped river valley in these isles, Glen Lyon, which has numberous stones and cup and ring marked rocks. I've only seen this Glen on a map, and I intend to visit it. The mountainscape is also stunning.
In a paper written for The Proceedings of the Antiquarian Society by James Mackintosh in the 1880's entitled "Notice of cup-marked stones & curing well on the estate of Garth, Fortingall, Perthshire. Mackintosh catalogues a number of cup marked stones in an area bounded by the "hamlet of Drumcharry to the west, to the Keltney Burn on the east (2 miles), the river Lyon on the south, and about 2 miles north from where the Keltney Burn joins the Lyon.
The first rock he describes is in the bed of the Lyon a few yards west from the lime kiln belonging to the farm of Tynadalloch. This rock had five well defined cups.
The second rock was in the village of Drumcharry and is described as a large boulder 7 feet long with a large cup of 4 inches in diameter near to it's west end.
The next stone a part of "a pavement in front of a barn door" in the village which appears to be a fragment of a larger stone. The rock has 3 well-executed cups on the top.
The next stone he describes is above the farmhouse of Balnacraig on a slope east of the "Pictish fort or Casteil-na-Feinne". There were several boulders, one of which had a cupmark 3 ½ inches in diameter.
Farther east in the glen of the Keltney Burn, 500 yards above the farmhouse of Wester Litigan and the same distance from the old castle of Garth "one of the strongholds of the Wolf of Badenoch, there is a harp shaped boulder" this boulder is 8 x 7 x 4 feet with 5 cup marks upon it, he also found fragments from the stone and putting them together reassembled another 5 cups.
On a rock on the top of a "sithean or fairy knowe" 600 yards due north of the ruin of Garth Castle he found 5 cup marks one of which was surrounded by a grooved ring 6 inches in diameter.
500 yards south east from the farm house of West Litigan he found a water worn boulder 3 feet by 3 feet which had one cup mark upon it.
Between the farm-houses of Upper Blarish and Balnacroick he found a rock 8 x 4 x3 feet which had a vein of quartz running through it and 5 cup marks "lying across the weather worn grooves of the rock".
He mentions a number of cup-marked rocks on stone which were to be used as road stone and then describes a stone noticed by Dr Macmillan on "the island at Keltney Mill. Mackintosh describes visiting this stone with a fella called Duncan Haggart. The stone had 12 cups including two connected pairs. Mr Haggart informs Mackintosh that three of the cups were made by him as a boy.
He then goes on to give a description of the nearby spring called "Fuaran n' Gruarach or Fuaran n' Druibh Chased being Well of the Measles or well of the Hooping-cough" where it was the custom to carry the water from the well and place it in a cavity "and the give the patients as much as they could take, the water being administered with a spoon made from the horn of a living cow, called a 'beoadharc', or living horn".
Directions - Head N from Perth on the A9 (sign-posted Inverness). After approximately 30.0km, there is a turn-off to the right (a major junction) onto the A827 for Aberfeldy. Take this turn-off, which curves round and crosses over the A9 to the W. Drive through Logierait, and after about 4.5km turn right at the junction (sign-posted Aberfeldy). This road takes you right to Aberfeldy. Carry on straight into Aberfeldy until you reach a cross-roads with a set of traffic lights.
Turn right here, onto the B846, which you follow for about 8.0km, until you see the turn-off to the left for Fortingall. The circles are approximately 3.5km along this road, in a field to your left, sheltered by trees, but clearly visible from the road. Keep an eye out for Balnacraig farm on your right - the circles are on your left just after here, in the field with the "No Dogs" sign on the gate. There are sometimes cattle in the field, and the eastern circle is sometimes split from it's two neighbours by a low electric fence. Only enter the field if it's empty. It's safe enough to park on the verge of this quiet road.