The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Cloven Stone

Natural Rock Feature


Dr Forbes, 'Dolmens in Scotland,' 1929.

"In the Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 11, p. 594, occurs the statement : ' No dolmens have been reported from Scotland'. May I place on record the position of one at least ? It stood, some 70 years ago or more (I hope it still stands), at the north or northwestern extremity of Battle Hill which looks down on the town of Huntly on the river Bogie in Aberdeenshire. In walking from Drumblade to the town, about 3 miles off, one usually took a ' short cut ' over Battle Hill. This bypath diverged from the turnpike road leading north to Banff and led to the top of Battle Hill (400 feet),close past the edge of the wood a few yards within which stood this monument. It was a typical dolmen, of which I retain a perfectly clear recollection, with its large granite capstone supported by three massive, rudely shaped pillars. On the aspect towards the bypath, there were some blocks of stone on the ground which may have constituted a fourth pillar or the ruins of a dromos, otherwise the dolmen was in excellent preservation. It stood about 6 to 7 feet high above the ground level, for I remember it took some climbing for me as a small boy to get on top. The dolmen had a special attraction for me perhaps because of what I felt was the inadequacy of the obtainable explanations as to its builders or its purpose. The legends attached to it were : that it was a ruined druid's altar; that the stones were dropped down through a hole in the Devil's apron when on his way to Knock Hill to deposit the cloven-stone there (a large glacial erratic); and that it is the tomb of a great warrior. Now, not far from the point where the bypath leaves the Banff road and on the flat on its eastern side stand two round tumuli, some 40 or 50 yards apart to the best of my recollection (cf. Geological Survey map of Scotland, sheet 86). Report had it that they mark the site of a great battle in ancient times, which gives its name to the hill and wood at whose base they stand, and that they contain the bones of the opposing combatants, one for each side ; but that the dolmen on the hill was raised to the memory of one of the leaders who was killed in the fray. It is possible that the battle (if battle ever took place) may have been fought on the hill, and that the tumuli (if graves they be) were erected on the plain in whose deeper soil (since Battle Hill is composed of thinly covered granite) it would be easier to place them."
thelonious Posted by thelonious
17th October 2011ce

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