I visited these en route to the Sherrifmuir Inn, for the annual march to commemorate the Battle of Sherrifmuir. These stones are also referred to as the Wallace Stones. Situated in Stirlingshire close by the site of the Battle of Sherrifmuir on 13th November 1715 (the Jacobite Rising), they are also traditionally held to be where William Wallace and Andrew de Moray rallied their troops prior to the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1296). Marked as 5 stones by the OS, I can only find 4 of them! They are aligned on a SW-NE axis, and about 100m apart. The third stone in the sequence heading SW is virtually buried, and the fourth is actually two stones very close together. There are what appear to be cupmarks on the inner face of the westerly stone of this pair.
I think this might have been the first neolithic site I went to, when I was about ten. My mum was showing the local sites to an American friend of the family, Kate Ascher. I remember this so well, because Kate's visits were a highlight for us - she seemed uninhibited and free, more so than anyone else we'd met in our fairly restrictive council estate and R.C. upbringing. I also remember her as a humble and benevolent person. She later told us that she thought we were all referring to the 'local hills' when we talked about the Ochil Hills. Anyway I think me and my little brother were wearing the NY Yankees t-shirts that Kate had brought over, and we went for lunch at the Sheriffmuir Inn. I remember I was intrigued and a bit worried about the [one remaining] standing stone and there was talk of witchcraft and rituals.
I didn't know, until a few years ago when I was looking at the OS Landranger, that this place was actually a stone row of five stones, of which only one remains upright.
On closer inspection, this site turns out to be very unusual.
The stones are almost perfectly aligned, roughly SW-NE. The most northerly stone looks as though it would have been the tallest, standing at about 10 feet tall. The second one is still standing at 6 foot, and is called the Wallace Stone (see folklore). The middle stone would have been around five feet tall. The fourth stone has split into two and would have been about seven feet tall. The south stone has cup markings.
The stones are all almost evenly spaced, being about a hundred metres apart.
When I last visited with a friend last year, we found animal bones and an animal skull around the stone.
The site is on rough, exposed, heathered moorland on the western shoulder of the Ochil Hills.
The Wallace Stone is named after the Scottish commoner and freedom fighter Mel Gib.....eh sorry William Wallace. (If you want a laugh, check out the new statue of 'Wallace' in the car park of the Wallace Monument visitor centre a few miles from Sheriffmuir. I know somebody who chiselled it's face off in protest, but it has since been repaired.)
Wallace is said to have used the stone as a gathering point for his troops (who were travelling from different parts of the Highlands) before the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
This stone was also used as a gathering point for the Jacobite army, who had travelled from the Highlands to meet the Hanoverian troops at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715.
The Battle was one of the few times in history were there was no winner - the Battle just fizzled out. Maybe it was because it was a cold 13th of November on this windy moorland.
On the east side of the Sheriffmoor road stands what is known as the Wallace Stone. Although only one great stone is now standing, five others are to be found at intervals prostrate amid the heath. Several fragments of the same material (dolerite) as that of the most of the stones is scattered about, especially towards the north-east of the line.
One small stone, which stands by itself at a considerable distance from the others, close to the road, a little distance below the hotel, makes a line with the great standing stone of 260 degrees. This stone is altogether different in size and appearance from the others. It does not seem to belong to the alignment, but may, perhaps, have been set up as a boundary stone. It measures 2ft 9in. above ground, and is 9ft in circumference at the base.
The other six seem to have formed a series running in a direction south-west to north east.
The first prostrate stone in this line is 7 feet in length, 8 feet in circumference at th base or thicker end, and 6 feet at the top. In shape it roughly resembles a square pyramid. On the exposed side- which, when the stone was erect, would be the south-east - appear over 20 cupmarks, of from 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in diameter.
About 75 yards distant, and in the same line with the standing stone, lies a roughly rectangular stone of dolerite, not so shapely as the first one, measuring 6ft 6in in length, and about 10 feet in circumference.
The next in the series is a flat stone 5ft 6in in length, and 4 feet 6 inch broad. It is sunk in the ground, so that the peripheral measurement could not be ascertained. It is slightly out of line with the others. But near it, and in more exact line is a small stone, 4 feet in length. These may be fragments of a single original stone.
The interval between this and the great standing stone is about 150 yards, which gives rise to the suspicion that a stone is amissing in the series. This great stone, the only one now erect, and specially denominated the Wallace Stone, stands 6 feet above the ground, and measures 14 feet in circumference. It is four-sided - the faces measuring respectively, west, 3ft 6in; north, 2 feet 10 inch; east, 2 feet 8 in.; and south, 5 feet.
Beyond this, still in the same line, and at the usual distance of about 75 yards, lies another great stone - a sort of flattened pyramid in shape, 10 feet in length, and from 16 to 18 feet in girth.
Apologies this is so long and involved. But I thought it might help people work out where the stones are supposed to be. It might even help find the 'amissing' one - could it not just be lurking under the mosses?
From the transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society 1892-3, in an article by A F Hutchison, about 'The Standing Stones of the District'.
The Sheriffmuir 'Inn' is sadly no longer the traditional Inn it once was and has went uncomfortably upmarket in my opinion. You can still get a pint there and it is the best place to park when visiting the stones.