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Tormain Hill

Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art

<b>Tormain Hill</b>Posted by rockartukImage © rockartuk
Also known as:
  • Witches' Stone

Nearest Town:Queensferry Sth (8km N)
OS Ref (GB):   NT129696 / Sheet: 65
Latitude:55° 54' 41.43" N
Longitude:   3° 23' 36.81" W

Added by Martin

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Wednesday 28/8/02
Today I need to leave the city, just for lunchtime, but I need to escape. This place draws me like a magnet. Every time I lift my head from my PC or paperwork in my office, this ridge is there. It’s funny, I’ve always stayed in Edinburgh and I’ve always been interested in the surroundings hills, woods and country. I’ve often wondered ‘where is that line of trees on the horizon?’ It’s here. Where these rocks are. This is the place that holds the key. This is the site of the *interpreter*. I sit by the main cup and ring marked stone, place my hands lightly on it and close my eyes. I let the sounds rush in. My head is too full of fuzz though. I still leave this place calmed.

‘See for yourself the summer fields, before the tractor comes…walk along on your own’.
Posted by Martin
4th September 2002ce

Tormain Hill Cup and Ring Marked Rocks
Wednesday 21/11/01
In a howling gale. On the way up here I stopped to check out some of the massive boulders and stones and slowly turned round to have a look at the most amazing view of Edinburgh- I laughed! In a perfect row stood Corstorphine Hill, Berwick Law, Arthurs Seat, Traprain Law and the Braids Hills. What an amazing ancient skyline! What a place- 360 degree views all around the Lothians, Fife and beyond. Away from the industrialisation, the motorways and the airport to this site. The rock markings are dotted on the outcrops of this wooded hill- I've never seen rock markings like these- the main cup and ring rock is a complete mind-fuck. Y'know, the first thing that came into my mind when I looked down upon it, then looked up at the skyline was 'viewfinder'. Is this a landscape interpreter? A magickal symbol encompassing all the surrounding sacred sites? I've had to move down off the hill into the slightly more sheltered tress as it's pissing down now and the flask of coffee is out as I'm so bloody cold! I think about the symbols above me with the wind roaring through the trees towering above me- I'll have to check out my dates etc. The other main cup marked rock (and I could find 6 in total) has cups joined by channels and grooves- a cross with the grooves running off down the hill. one of the other smaller rocks has been brutalized by the OS many years ago- nice one. I leave this place with shivers running down my back and, no, it's not because I'm cold.

From Sighthill in the west of Edinburgh, take the A71 west heading out past Heriot Watt University. At Linburn take a right (Bonnington Road) on the B7030. At Bonnington Mains farm take the road right. Just before Ratho look out for a line of trees on the right with a footpath sign. The rocks are just past a sign that says 'footpath ends' near the top of the hill.
Posted by Martin
26th November 2001ce
Edited 30th December 2003ce


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'Hitherto Undescribed Cup- and Ring- Marked Stones.' Fred R Coles. Proc Soc Antiq Scot 37 (1902-03)
On page 228 and 229 is a description of the "Witches' Stone" at Tormain Hill. I have added a copy of the diagram. The stone has 22 cupmarks in a dog-legged line across 9ft of stone, and a 23rd at a distance just where the kink in the line is. More about it on p143+ of volume 10 (1872-4).

Tiompan tells me this stone is sadly no longer with us, having been willfully destroyed by some philistine (see forums). It's said to have been used in 'fertility rituals' with young ladies* sliding down it.
*i.e. the Witches! and their shocking behaviour.

Having used the word 'dog-legged' I synchronicitously found Charles Fort reporting that the holes are said to be 'the tracks of dogs' feet' (maybe that's why - they don't really look like tracks of a four-footed animal). His 'Book of the Damned' cites the Proc Soc Antiq Scot "2-4-79" but I have not read the original.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th May 2007ce
Edited 30th May 2007ce