Go south from Dufftown on the B9009 until Auchbreck. From Auchbreck head south on the B9008, going past Auchorachan farm pull into the east side of the road at the first gate after the farm. The stone, standing on the brow of the hill at 1.7 meters in height, has lovely views south, north and west. Packing stones can be seen at the base of the stone.
The lovely sight of Glenlivet distillery is on the other side of the valley. Sadly the fence has seen better days on the plus side no cows dropped dead during the visit!
It was some 160 years ago that the farm of Auchorachan was farmed by a captain Grant, having returned from the Napoleonic wars. As a military officer, he like to have his own way and was of a stirring and enterprising disposition. On his return from the wars he set about improving the land and started work on a new farm steading. One great complication that arose however, was the lack of suitable building stone which was somewhat deficient in the area and it seemed that the work would be brought to a standstill. But the captain was not a man to be easily put off and with a keen eye for building stones soon spotted the resources of the neighbourhood and one day said to his servant Sandy Gordon "Aye Sandy, this is a fine state of matters isn't it? Glenlivet seems better supplied with water for making whisky than with stones for building houses" "But it behoves us to make good use of the material we have at hand, so today you will yoke the oxen to the sledge and bring over that big stone standing on the brow of the brae there: it will make a capital lintel for a byre door".
"What na' that stane, sir?" said Sandy, "ye dinna mean the Standing Stane?"
"I mean that stone on the brae" said the Captain
"its of no use there, but only in the way of the plough"
"Weel sir" said Sandy seriously, "Stanes may be scarce, but I wadna advise you to meddle wi' that ane2
"Why not?" asked the Captain sharply.
"Weel you see sir, it's nae a common stane an' shouldna be put to a common use. I've heard that it was ance pairt o' a kirk or place o'worship, or in some way conneckit wi' religion, an' therefore sacred. It's nae lucky to meddle wi' things o' that kind".
The Captain ignored this advice and Sandy had to do what he was told. the stone was duly removed from the field and built into the wall and by and by the steading was completed and filled with valuable cattle.
Such is the perversity of fate, for within a few weeks, the cattle were struck down by a mysterious disease and one by one began to perish. No cure that was tried had any effect and all the cattle doctors of the district both professional and amateur were called on and consulted. It seemed all would die and the Captain would face ruin.
"By George Sandy" said the Captain as another animal was buried
"This is the most terrible enemy I have ever encountered"
"I think I ken what's the matter wi' the beasts" sandy replied
"You do? Then what the dickens is it?"
"It's no the dickens - nor the dockens- but the stane - the standing stane that ye have me tak' from the brae yonder."
"By George" came the reply 2there certainly may be something in that tale of yours after all".
Despite all his gusto, the Captain was not one to deny a mistake and soon summoned the masons to set about removing the stone, which, in order to wipe out all cause of offence he replaced with his own hands in its exact old position in the field.
Sure enough as tradition has it, the disease abated and the remaining cattle lived. Whether it was the stone or simply the disease running it's natural course may never be known, for despite the scarcity of building stone to this date, none have ever meddled with the Standing Stone of Auchorachan, and there it stands in the field to this day, despite the inconvenience it may cause to modern farm machinery.
This roughly triangular stone is five and a half feet tall and stands on a steep slope above the road. It is mentioned in Notes on The Folk-Lore
of the North-East of Scotland, by Walter Gregor
, now online at the sacred texts archive.
Here is a tradition of a monolith on the farm of Achorrachin in Glenlivet. The farmer was building a steading, and took the stone as a lintel to a byre-door. Disease fell upon the cattle, and most unearthly noises were heard during night all round the steading. There was no peace for man or beast. By the advice of a friend the stone was taken from the wall, and thrown into the river that ran past the farm. Still there was no peace. The stone was at last put into its old place in the middle of a field. Things then returned to their usual course. The stone stands to the present day in the middle of the field, and in some of its crevices were seen, not many years ago, small pieces of mortar.
Visitors may care to note that it is very near to the Glenlivet distillery.