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St Marnan's Chair

Standing Stones


Canmore's record tells us that this 8ft+ standing stone called St Marnan's Chair is now within the walls of a churchyard, at NJ 59705020. There is another, smaller stone (perhaps moved from its original position SE of the Chair) at NJ 59715024.

The entry states the Chair "is almost certainly all that remains of a stone circle, probably one of the pillar stones of a recumbent stone circle centred to the NE where the church stands."

A little further afield, in Banffshire, just beyond the Aberdeenshire boundary, two standing-stones represent all that remains of a circle which stood on the site of the present parish church of Marnoch. The taller of the two is known as St Marnan's Chair, though it bears no resemblance to such an article of furniture in its present state. As, however, it seems likely to have been one of the pillar-stones associated with the recumbent stone, its original position may have given some excuse for the designation. St Marnan, or Marnoch, was a seventh-century missionary who is said to have died at his church here in 625.
This is from Ritchie, J., Folklore of Aberdeenshire Stone Circles, in Proc. Soc. Ant. of Scotland, LX, 1926, pp304-313.

Naturally the chair is where St Marnan (or St Marnoch, the name of the village/church) is said to have preached. He is associated with a curious bit of folklore - that his skull was taken from the church and washed every Sunday in his renowned (but now defunct) holy well near the river, the washing water being given to the sick*. One might be tempted to think of 'Celtic head cults' and the like. I don't think drinking water out of a skull would make me feel any better, personally.

*from 'Wishing Wells' by Sandy Maclennan at
original source - ?

Canmore also mentions that one of those geometric favourites, a 7-knobbed carved stone ball, was found somewhere in Marnoch (but is now far away in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd June 2005ce
Edited 1st October 2006ce

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