This is the reply I received from the NTS re the poor state of this grand monolith;
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the Caiy Stane. I have been asked to reply because, as the Conservator for the South region of the National Trust for Scotland, the Caiy Stane falls within my remit... continues...
I visited this site with an old friend who was doing the driving. We spent the best part of an hour driving around housing schemes in the rain and would never have found the stone without the directions of some helpful locals (should have checked out Martin's directions properly before setting out).
We found the stone standing, still proud at the side of the street - and what a presence it has!
And then you go round the back and there, along with some cup markings, is the paint. I dont know what cup markings are all about and I don't know what function graffitti serves - given the absence of young male passage and identity rituals in our small, small world, maybe it's the same!? And then again......
The Caiy Stane (AKA Kel, Cat or Camus Stane), Caiystane View, Edinburgh
Tuesday 4/9/01, 12:50pm
Ah- a megalithic lunchtime! It's not often I get a chance to do much during my lunch-break, but this is one of those rare occasions and I took the opportunity to (re) visit this splendid monolith. It's funny- every journey I make to sites such as this feels like some sort of pilgrimage. Even the journey up here through the Oxgangs housing schemes on an LRT No. 17 bus felt special. Here I am in a quiet South Edinburgh suburb in the shadow of the Pentlands next to an almost 10 ft. high red sandstone monolith. As well as being tall it's also a wide beast- about 5 ft. or so with curious large grooves out of either side at the base. The NTS wall plaque says this stone is over 5000 years old and the immediate vicinity was populated with cairns, cists and urns suggesting that this hilltop was used for burial/ritual in the Bronze Age. Nothing remains apart from the Caiy Stane- everything else has disappeared under driveways and gardens. I also read somewhere that legend says this stone marked a battle between the Picts and the Romans. Jeez- the last time I visited this place I was still at school! Unfortunately the reverse side of this stone is heavily vandalised- loads of spraypaint, carvings out of the stone, chewing gum stuck in the cupmarks- how clever. The reverse side is also the most interesting as it has many small cupmarks including six in a straight line which I don't think I've seen before. The founders of our great city saw fit to name not one, not two, but seven streets after this standing stone. Unfortunately its' obviously not regarded with such high esteem these days. C'mon NTS- get someone round here to clean this fab stone up.
Catch a No.17 bus from Princes Street heading south (towards Hunters Tryst). Travel up Lothain Road, down Morningside Road and through Oxgangs. Get off the bus next to the Safeways at Hunters Tryst. Walk back down to the roundabout and turn right along Oxgangs Road. Continue and cross at the first traffic lights next to Caiystane Drive. Continue up Oxgangs Road and turn off at the next left which is Caiystane View- the Caiy Stane is on the right of this road- you can't miss it!
"There are many evidences of Roman occupation round the Pentland Hills, and the Caiy Stone of Kelstane or Battle stone near Fairmilehead marks the place of a traditionary battle between the Romans and the PictsÉ..Evidence of the Danish occupation was seen in the Camus Stone, from which Comiston gets its name. This stone has disappearedÉ(?). The Camus Stone was probably erected by or for a Danish commander named Camus"
From "The Call of the Pentlands" by Will Grant, 1927 pages 207-208.
I think the 'Caiy Stone of Kelstane' is maybe a mis-print and should read 'or'. I was also interested in the part re the disappearance of the Camus Stone as I was sure this was just another name for the Caiy Stane. I had another look at my Edinburgh map and there are five streets round about the Caiy Stane named after Camus, some of which join Comiston Road. Was there another stone nearby that has been confused with the Caiy Stane over the years???
"In an adjacent field, close to the quadrilateral of trees that are supposed to mark the line of a Roman camp, is the Kel or Kat Stone- translated 'Battle Stone'- a cup-marked monolith seven feet in height, which, if legend speaks true, marks the grave of a chieftain who fell in fight. It certainly was raised for a purpose; and the gray and lichened landmark, standing where it does on a ridge and near a cross-road, looking across to the Pentlands and down upon Swanston catches the eye and challenges the fancy"
From "The Fringes of Edinburgh" by John Geddie (date unknown) pages 102-105.
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.