-In memory of Dixie and Jeanette-
This stone sits in a field just off the main Alloa to Kincardine road. Comely bank is the raised glacial beach between Alloa and Clackmannan, which overlooks the carselands of the Forth Valley to the south with a sweeping view of the [Ochil] Hillfoots to the north.
The stone is a striking slab, which leans at a slight angle, and when you see it from the main road it's 9ft sits on the horizon.
The only feature which gets mentioned is a cross which has been carved onto one side. If the intention of the christian carver[s] were to take mystery and power away from this stone, then it has worked in the sense that it is pretty much ignored nowadays (this of course, could also be a good thing in a way) as the carving makes the stone very unusual and difficult for the historians to fit it easily into any one culture - it just seems to throw everyone. The cross is pretty crude and certainly less intricate than the usual pictish/celtic stones (as has been the suggested origin of the stone) and looks pretty much like a paranoid and rushed christianisation of a previously revered and ancient thing. For these reasons, it seems, no-one wants to claim or talk about this stone. It doesn't even really have a name.
I first visited this site 5 years ago at 2 in the morning with Norie (of the photos) and 2 other night travellers Dixie and the sober Jeanette. Dixie was enthusiastic about this site, had (proffesionally) photographed it several times and that night offered to be our guide while the ever patient and benevolent landlady, Jeannette taxied us there. The guys waded through, what we christened mad grass, a thick stalky crop which took forever to get through, while Jeannete waited with the engine running. We got there eventually (although it should be easier to visit now as the field is more accessable now and folk will of course be more responsible and clearer of mind than we were).
Despite all the confusion, this stone is worth the visiting.
This stone, like Hully Hill, now has it's own nearby MacDonalds for spiritual and bodily nourishment.
This stone was moved form the roadside some time ago and marks the sacred way across the high muir offering spectacular views of the ochils trossachs and forth vallley, from Dumyat to Clackmannan and Tullyies, some of the old path remains at The Number 9 Woods, it crossed the brow of Branshill, probably named afterArthur Mac Aeden's brother, Bran. Urns were found on the hillside when they built the hospital. The other ancient road across the muir is the king o' muirs road which has standing stones and waymarkers along its route, noteably in the farmhouse garden at Balhearty.
Heading south east from the standing stone and over the river devon, 2/3rds of the way up on the west side of the Clackmannan Tower hill there is the kings seat stone which offers the King a good view of the setting sun and the kingdom of manau, a few yards down in the tree line is a stone where warrioirs have sharpened their blades. Further down the hill is the castle moat which is in fair condition. In the old lade to Parkmill there are conspicuous stones which may have formed a row at one point they have been moved from the field.
In the mary wood on the north side of the devon there was once a stone circle, can't find it now, but when we were kids we were told not to down the woods at night as witches danced naked doon there around a fire!
About half-a mile east from Alloa, is a large upright stone, known by the name of the Stone Cross. On each side, the figure of an open cross is cut from the top to the bottom.
- from the New Statistical Account of 1845 (v8, p42).
According to the RCAHMS record, the slab is on a knoll, and stands 8 foot high, with fairly large packing stones around its base. This record also mentions the Statistical Account of 1791, which notes that "old people used to speak of the figure of a man on horseback which they had seen on it." A carving on it? Or a ghostly figure near it? The idea of a man on horseback on the stone is too surreal.
Perhaps the crosses can still be seen, though even in 1950 they were described as much weather-worn, and winterjc only mentions one on one side.