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


The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood

Stone Circle

<b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Also known as:
  • Holywood

Nearest Town:Dumfries (4km SSE)
OS Ref (GB):   NX947794 / Sheet: 84
Latitude:55° 5' 51.53" N
Longitude:   3° 39' 1.33" W

Show map   (inline Google Map)

Images (click to view fullsize)

Add an image Add an image
<b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by Zeb <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by Zeb <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by ruskus <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by thelonious <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by ginger tt <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by postman <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by postman <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by postman <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by raraku7 <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by yani <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by rockartwolf <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by rockartwolf <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by rockartwolf <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by rockartwolf <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by pebblesfromheaven <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by pebblesfromheaven <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by Moth <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by pebblesfromheaven <b>The Twelve Apostles of Hollywood</b>Posted by pebblesfromheaven


Add fieldnotes Add fieldnotes
Visited 28.7.13

Is it really a whole year since I last visited? – time certainly flies the older you get!
This time we parked at the top of the field on the grass verge with an information panel attached to a large boulder. ‘The largest stone circle in Scotland’ the sign proudly states – and quite right too.

Anyway, a quieter visit than last time – no cows to be seen so I had the place to myself. The weather was glorious with hot sunshine and white fluffy clouds. The grass was long but dry.

I did the customary walk around the stones.
Is it me or does everyone walks around a stone circle on the outside and usually in an anti-clockwise direction? Just a thought.

It is funny how when you re-visit a site you often see it in a different light. No doubt due to your memory playing tricks on you plus the mood you were in and the weather etc. The circle was bigger than I remembered and the site much more impressive.

It goes without saying that this is a ‘must see’ site when in the area and on a day like today it is a very good place to be.
Posted by CARL
7th August 2013ce

Visited 17.6.12

And so my 3 week ‘Scottish adventure’ comes to an end.
It started with a stone circle and so it is fitting that it should end with a stone circle.

We parked on the verge next to the stile and Karen and the children stayed in the car as I entered the field full of young cows to walk over to the circle.

As I walked around the circle touching each stone (as you do) I became aware of all the cows heading towards me.
I wasn’t too bothered at first but became a bit more concerned as they had now started to run towards me!

I headed back to the stile only to be overtaken by the cows who obviously thought they were going to get fed by Karen. This meant I had to push my way through the cows to get to the stile and out of the field. As it happens this was ok but I am sure it would have frightened people who are not used to this sort of thing!

Well, it was time to head home and back to ‘reality’.
It was a busy but very productive 3 weeks ‘old stoning’ in which I visited many more sites than I expected. (Thank you Karen).
Also thanks to all of you who have read/suffered all the posts I have written over the last few weeks and no doubt would have been fed up of seeing so many!
Posted by CARL
30th July 2012ce

The Actual Name of the place is Holywood. ginger tt Posted by ginger tt
10th September 2009ce

We parked at the corner of the field and walked down the road to the stile, and were mildly surprised to see two sheep messing about on one of the stones, but after reading other notes here it seems they're allways up to no good. Not been here for a few years so was pleased to see the grass was much shorter, I like this stone circle, big stones, big ring, just a shame there are'nt more stones, presumably it would have been more like long meg and her neighbours. A good place to start before heading west . postman Posted by postman
17th November 2007ce

This is the only place where I have watched a sheep dance on top of a stone with an audience of her peers looking on. Quite bizarre! She pirouetted for a good 10 minutes.....

I can only echo the feelings of others who have added their own thoughts - this huge circle has an air of abandonment about it. Still, an impressive size and a good start to a weekend of stone searching around the Solway Firth.....but somehow, I left feeling slightly disappointed. Maybe that says more about me than it does about the cirlce?
Vicster Posted by Vicster
13th February 2005ce

I grew up near here, but it took me 34 years to actually walk round them. A new moon hung low in the sky, above the row of hills to the west, and the stones looked ethereal under her pale glow. I felt a strong and pleasant atmosphere as I wound my way round them. To the west, the familiar view of foreground and background, but no middleground, is to be seen. I could have stayed for hours, so charged was I by the magical atmosphere, but was rudely interrupted by my daughter, standing on the stile and shouting, " Da-ad, we're starving! " Sigh. Posted by Equinoxboy
28th July 2004ce

I was full of anticipation before visiting this huge circle. It was to be my last contact with the Cumbrian great circles before I headed west towards the Solway coast.
I also liked the story Burl tells about how a farmer was rebuked for removing one of the stones. The farmer answered that it was only Judas that had been removed.
Burl describes the site as being divided by a hedge and spoiled in atmosphere. The hedge has now gone but the atmosphere is still spoiled.
The stones are huge but the soul of the circle has gone.
You should visit this circle to check out the megalithic engineering of setting up this vast circle on a terrace above Dumfries.
There are some lovely mineral veins in a number of the stones.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
27th October 2003ce

We also could only count 11.
There is a stile to get into the field so you need to be agile. There were sheep with lambs in the field so take care in Spring not to alarm them. Lambs seemed to find stones excellent for climbing practice!
It is near the villages of Holywood and Holywood Station, just off A76 heading north. Not well signposted so look out carefully for it.
Posted by herbwormwood
17th May 2003ce

Been to Dumfries lots of times but hadn't been here before! Very overcast day but clouds somehow comforting. Stopped for lunch here, very quiet spot but quite near a major road. Not many decent hills overlook the site.
A couple of the stones are fairly big, but some are about the same size as the sheep!

BTW I could only count 11.

pebblesfromheaven Posted by pebblesfromheaven
27th January 2003ce

bit of a sad site. neglected, not much magic. Posted by greentara
12th October 2001ce


Add folklore Add folklore
Following on from Fitzcoraldo's quote, it says:
According to another account, the stones do not actually represent the Apostles, only 'it is allowed that the Apostles put them there'! and it was the farmer himself who wished to take away all the stones, but was stopped by the proprietor.
This is a report from the Rev. W.C. Lukis, who'd been sent on a Survey of various megalithic monuments of Scotland, Cumberland, and Westmoreland in the summer of 1884. The sort of mission I'm sure many contributors here would have been quite happy to assist with.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th June 2013ce
Edited 29th June 2013ce

This is interesting because it sounds like the original version of EquinoxBoy's tale - his has been updated with the combustion engine to make it more contemporary?
No tradition.. exists of any [stones] having been removed, or that the group has ever been otherwise than it is at present. A certain superstitious respect still attaches to the spot, and may even have had something to do with the preservation of these curious relics, for gossip still records how upon one occasion some farmer, more zealous in the cause of agriculture than archaeology, attempted to remove one of them, and that the work was immediately arrested by a violent storm of thunder and lightning.
From 'On Certain "Markings" on the Druid Circle in Holywood' by Dr Dickson, in Series 1 volume 3 of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society.
With regard to the Certain Markings (proposed cup-marks), a later expedition felt they were merely natural.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th May 2011ce
Edited 6th May 2011ce

Many years ago the number of the stones was twelve, and the following amusing story is told about the removal of the missing one. A ploughman, while at work in the field, broke his plough against one of the stones, and, in the absence of his employer, took upon himself to remove the obstacle, and left it in the waters of Gluden. The farmer on his return was rather alarmed about the sacrilege, as he considered it to be, for the twelve stones represented the twelve Apostles, and he, being fearful that some calamity would follow, took the ploughnlan to task, but the man was ready with the answer : Hoots, there's nae fear o' ill. Ane o' the Apostles was a traitor ; weel, it's him I've ta'en awa', and gin the Gluden disna' wash him, it'll droon him.'

fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
4th November 2007ce

Local folklore tells this tale; The farmer decided to remove the stones and, one summer's day, set out to do just that. The sky was clear as he drove his tractor to the field. As he neared the stones, however, clouds were beginning to gather, but he carried on, intent on his task. By the time he had hooked up the chains it was quite dark. Climbing up into his tractor, he reached for the ignition key, at which point the storm broke overhead, and a bolt of lightning struck the stone. Taking the hint, the farmer quickly undid the chains and took off for home. Nobody has tried to move the stones since. The product of fertile local imagination? Maybe, but this story is told in hushed tones, and does show the sense of mystery that this circle imbues on us simple, country folk. Posted by Equinoxboy
28th July 2004ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
Eleven stones, twelve stones? who knows.
The local name for the stones is " The Twelve Apostles." When the rustic believer in Druidism is asked, why so, when there are only eleven stones ? the reply usually bears upon the treachery of Judas Iscariot. Further inquiry is, of course, rendered useless. That there were a century ago really twelve stones I have already shown : that there are now only eleven is equally true. The oldest observer whose testimony has been accessible to me firmly alleges the removal of one stone, and within the memory of living persons eleven has always been the number. It was with the greatest surprise, therefore, that, on consulting the O.M. 25" scale, I found twelve stones marked—the extra stone being shown some 40 feet or so N.W. of stone F—its position is quite immaterial.

At a loss to account for this resurrection of a stone in 1850, which in 1837 was non-existent, I bethought me of writing to my friend Captain C. F. Mould of H.M. Survey, now stationed at Chester. His reply is somewhat startling' in its suggestiveness :— "There should only be eleven stones. The drawn plan shows only this number; but there turns out to have been an accidental blue spot on this plan which has been reproduced by the' zincography on the published plans."

On such trivial mechanical accidents may the most mystical theories in archaeology repose !
From Coles, Fred. R: "The Stone Circle at Holywood, Dumfriesshire." p84-90 in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Volume 28 (1893-94).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th November 2006ce

About a mile along the road to Dunscore, a large stone lies on the right, where it was recently excavated to clear a road for a new sub station. Could it be an outlier, or the missing twelth apostle? Posted by Equinoxboy
28th July 2004ce
Edited 28th July 2004ce


Add a link Add a link


Clip from a Gaelic TV programme.
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
30th September 2011ce

Extreme Stonefeelers' World of Hard Rock & Standing Stones

Pics of the Twelve Apostles stone circle.
new abbey Posted by new abbey
11th April 2010ce
Edited 11th April 2010ce