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

ActionMan’s TMA Blog

Post to the TMA Blog

my first Scottish stones foray

Despite moving up from the south of England at the end of last year, fed up of the constant noise of planes overhead, and the general hustle and bustle of the south-east, I'd yet to get out and look at any stones in my new Perthshire home. Piles of boxes sitting in the house - full of God know's what - had prevented me so far, but on this crisp wintry day there was no stopping me, I was going looking for stones.

One of my new colleagues in the broomstick factory had given me a book of poetry, and many of the poems mention stoney sites around Perthshire, so I decided to head for Fowlis Wester, the subject of one of the poems, which had also come highly recommended by the Scottish Megaraks. And rightly so, for Fowlis Wester is a truly magical place, a cradle of secrets that Harry Potter himself would be proud of.

I began at junction of the main Perth-Crieff road and the road up to Fowlis Wester. Here, in the corner of the field, stands the unassuming New Fowlis cairn, ignored daily by the busy Perth commuters, oblivious to its long since vanished importance. As George Dunn wrote:

It's easy to wait here, the wind blowing through
The branches of the elms still my heart
I came in uninvited although that was not strictly true
My troubles asked me to come here & be with them

How appropriate that seemed to me as I stood amongst the trees fo shelter from the icy wind blowing down from the Braes of Fowlis above, in which direction I headed, into the village, but turning off for Crofthead Farm and its mighty stones.

There are 4 stones here - 2 huge parts of a split boulder, and a pair of standing stones a little further up the hill. The flatter half of the massive boulder has 4 cup-marks close to it's four corners, which seem to be aligned with their standing neighbours. I wandered up to them, and drank in the stunning views, resplendent in the bright winter sunshine. I was feeling the first pangs of hunger now, so I dropped my bag and sat in the shelter of the taller stone to have my picnic beside the Blether Burn. Ham sandwiches were the order of the day, washed down with a flask of hot tomato soup.

Feeling re-energised, I set off for the long slog up to the stone circles on the Braes of Fowlis. The thick snow had drifted deep, and the going was hard. Castle McCormack rose darkly out of it's powdery white surroundings, signifying that my climb was nearing its end. Soon I spied the outlying standing stone, and although the snow was deep on the track, on the circles it was only lightly sprinkled, apparently protected by the heather. The wind up here was biting something terrible, and despite someone of my stature being able to shelter behind the outlier, I soon departed in search of warmth.

Rather than re-trace my steps back down to the village, I decided to follow the track on, over the crest of the hill. Rather foolish perhaps in hindsight given my lack of local knowledge and not being dressed entirely properly for a Scottish winter, but I was soon rewarded when the Foulford Inn came into view.

As I found out over a pint of Old Haverer, the landlord has two main hobbies - all things boats, and all things megalithic. Portholes instead of windows, old gnarled oars on the walls, even an anchor in the corner! I could quite easily have spent all night there, but time was dragging on, I was far from Balbeggie, and those boxes won't unpack themselves!

Fowlis Wester Cairn — Miscellaneous

The poem below is part of an anthology of poetry from Perthshire. The poem gives you a hint at the mystery of a site passed and ignored by so many people on the journey to work every day.Good to know that at least one soul has taken the time to stop and ponder this place that sits within 10 yards of the busy main Crieff - Perth road.

Fowlis Wester Cairn — Miscellaneous

The Burial Mound at Fowlis Wester

It's easy to wait here, the wind blowing through
The branches of the elms still my heart
I came in uninvited although that was not strictly true
My troubles asked me to come here & be with them

They who built this they knew how to honour
The dead but now in life I circle it
Round clockwise a couple of times
Once for the rain and twice for those other hands

I would like to read the stone but they won't
Show me their language instead I read
The trees & one of them tells me that
In 1896 John Martin carved out his name

I wonder if like me he held his breath
& let the time turn to sunlight
Some startled crows get even more startled
As the traffic rolls but not these thought

Which cluster in this circle & the rabbits who
Burrow here do they understand time
& does it hold them as it does me
A beguiling set of stones traveling to our deepest

Distance the gods of their flight are worried
About strange concessions & I am jealous
Of them & what they have seen because
I am part of a river here in strathearn & I am flowing

From one silence to another & make no mark
I have no stones I just watch the shochards
Bringing in spring I say my farewells
I get my bus & I'm back in the river.

George Dunn

Fowlis Wester Cairn — Images

<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by ActionMan<b>Fowlis Wester Cairn</b>Posted by ActionMan

Fowlis Wester Standing Stones — Images

<b>Fowlis Wester Standing Stones</b>Posted by ActionMan
ActionMan Posted by ActionMan
15th February 2004ce

ActionMan's TMA Blog

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment