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The Hills of Dunipace (Sacred Hill)

The Romans documented that here at the Hills of Dunipace, there was at least one peace treaty brokered between them and local Celts in the 3rd century. The Roman Emperor, Severus came here in person for this purpose in 210, Severus's son Caragill may have returned here soon after for more peace talks and the usurper, Carausius brokered another deal in 286. In the past it was thought that the hills were erected to commemorate one, two or all of these treaties.

William Wallace is said to have met with King Robert Bruce here in 1298. Wallace supposedly persuaded the Royal Bruce that he should fight on, in the interests of Scotland and it's people, and not sell the Scottish crown to England through land deals.

Edward I of England came here on 14 October, 1301 to sign a peace warrant with Scotland in order to appease the French King (who was an ally of the Scots at the time).

Other similar hills in the valley were excavated and were thought to be natural remains of the post glacial beach. On top of one nearby (and less prominent) hill, which was destroyed for road building materials, was found an ancient burial cist with remains. The use of natural features like this, for sacred purpose was also uncovered by the archeos, at nearby Cambusbarron (-at Dunipace, burial continues to this day - the site was Christianised in the 12th century by the erection of a chapel at the foot of the hills, the remains of which can be seen beside the modern cemetery). Thankfully, the hills at Dunipace have been left more or less untampered by the archeos, but it looks pretty much like these hills are mostly natural. However, the almost perfectly flattened top of the SE hill makes me think that it may have been artificially flattened for ceremonial use. The NW hill was badly damaged by flooding in the 16th century so it's impossible to say if this one had the same flat top.

Arthurian madman/scholar, August Hunt, in his online book, the Road to Avalon, theorises that King Ban and his wife left the Stirling area with his son, the infant Lancelot, and crossed the Carron here at Dunipace.

The area is at the heart of UFO country; The town of Bonnybridge is just a few hundred yards away at the other side of the nearby roundabout.

Hill of Airthrey Fairy Knowe (Cairn(s))

There have been many 'fairy' stories surrounding this site throughout the ages.

A local writer, R. Menzies Fergusson wrote a collection of stories which were first published in 1912, called 'the Ochil Fairy Tales'. This book contained some tales from his own imagination, and some stories which were adapted from previous local folklore.
One of the stories which he adapted from existing lore went roughly as follows.

Sometime before the union (pre 1707) a man named David Rae ,a farmer from Tullibody fell in love and married a local woman, Janet Cokley.
Janet was vain and flirtatious and gained a reputation in the small village, to David's dismay.
David met a fairy while working one day, and he confided in the wee guy re. his marital strife. The fairy (named 'Red Cap') told him to put a magic stone into her broth which would change her ways. David tried this but Janet found the stone and threw it out the door.
The following Halloween while returning from a party near the hill of Airthey, David met his wee friend again and explained that the stone plan had went to pot. Red Cap told Dave he'd arrange that if Jan didn't change in the next year, he and his wee pals would escort the dirty whore off to fairyland the following Halloween.
Jan didn't change and the powers of the local kirk became involved in the whole thing and Jan became ostracised.
The next Halloween, instead of going to one of the local parties, Dave persuaded Jan to go to bed early.
The next morn Jan was gone and Dave discovered that the front door was still barred. Local folk who'd been to parties the night before, told Dave that they'd seen a funny little cloud with Jan on it, moving toward Dumyat Hill (monkey style?!?) and on to the Fairy Knowe.

Fergusson reports that there were actual church records in Stirling and Dunblane proving the existence of Janet, which worries me.
This woman was by all accounts only flirting.

*John, I'm only dancing, she turns me on, but I'm only dancing, she turns me on, don't get me wrong, I'm only dancin'*

Was it the fairies?,
or the presbytery?
or poor (paranoid, jealous) Dave who arranged for her removal?
Hopefully, for 15th century Jan, it was the fairies.

Fergusson adds that this story has long been a warning to 'those wives who were tempted to forget their home duties and obedience to their lawful husbands,' an example of how our lore was used to control and possibly to cover up truths which people didn't want to tell or hear.

Another story,'Wee Tommie', tells of a lost child, who was rescued by the fairies and was taken through a secret opening in the side of the mound into a cavern in the knowe where he was looked after by the fairies before being returned safely to his parents.

I've added a couple of links for another 2 of Fergusson's adaptations.

Stone of Mannan (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The stone was said to have been a sacred symbol dedicated to (and/or containing the spirit of ) the pagan sea-god, 'mannan' or 'mannau', where the stone and the district gets it's name.
There are 2 suggested original locations for the stone.
The first one is about 600 yds south of the present location at the bottom of Lookabootye brae (see bit about Robert Bruce), at the very edge of the carselands, which were at the edge of the post glacial sea loch which flooded this area about 8000 years ago. Although the stone is certainly not that old, if this is the true location, perhaps the anscestral memories were taken to the neolithic, to when the stone was erected. It is also possible that the surrounding flat lands which were once the sea bed (also originally named after mannan/mannau) were seen as a gift from mannau after the seas receded. This land may also have been prone to tidal flooding in the neolithic.
Another suggested location is on an island nearby on the tidal River Forth, possibly Inch island 2.5 miles away or Tullibody Inch, 3 miles away.

King Robert the Bruce is said to have visited the area in the 12th century, and left a glove, called a mannan, on top of the stone. On return the glove was missing and he ordered a squire to find it telling him, 'look aboot ye!' This is a second, less likely and less accepted origin for the stone's name. The local council's motto is 'look aboot ye' and is emblazoned on some of the litter bins in the area.

Sheriffmuir Stone Row (Stone Row / Alignment)

The Wallace Stone is named after the Scottish commoner and freedom fighter Mel sorry William Wallace. (If you want a laugh, check out the new statue of 'Wallace' in the car park of the Wallace Monument visitor centre a few miles from Sheriffmuir. I know somebody who chiselled it's face off in protest, but it has since been repaired.)
Wallace is said to have used the stone as a gathering point for his troops (who were travelling from different parts of the Highlands) before the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.
This stone was also used as a gathering point for the Jacobite army, who had travelled from the Highlands to meet the Hanoverian troops at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715.
The Battle was one of the few times in history were there was no winner - the Battle just fizzled out. Maybe it was because it was a cold 13th of November on this windy moorland.

The Great Sacred Monuments of Stenness

The farmer who in 1814, removed the Stone of Odin because he was fed up of the many visitors to his land, clearly underestimated the attachment that locals had to this stone. The farmer (who also commited the crime of not being a native Orcadian) was almost killed after 2 attempted arson attacks on his property.
According to Reverend R. Henry (c.1784), every New Years Day local young folk gathered at the Kirk of Stenness with enough provisions for 4 or 5 days. Couples who wished to be married would leave the group alone and go to the Temple of the Moon (Stones of Stenness) where the woman would pray to Woden. Then they went to the Temple of the Sun (Ring of Brodgar), where the man would pray before the woman, when finally they went to the Stone of Odin where they clasped their right hands through the hole in the stone and exchanged vows.
Leslie Grinsell wrote in 1976 (Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain) that babies who were passed through the hole in the Stone of Odin would live long and healthily. Grinsell also wrote that it was customary to leave offerings at the Stone of Odin and that sick people would go round the Stones of Stenness 3 times to become cured.

Machuim (Stone Circle)

J. McDiarmid wrote in 1910 in his 'Folklore of Breadalbane' of a man from the nearby village of Killin who on passing by this stone circle heard haunting 'fairy' music. He then entered into the circle. When he left he was 'presented' with a strong, fast, white horse.


C.Leitch wrote in 'Ardrishaig and it's Vicinity' (Govan, 1904), 'A perforated outlier [of the Ballymeanoch monument] is said to have been used for sealing bargains and betrothals'.
Is this the little cairn site?

Cairnpapple (Henge)

Cairnpapple is regularly used as a vantage point for skywatchers and is regarded as a UFO hotspot.

Airthrey Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

It is believed by some historians that the Airthrey stone played a part in the birth of the Scottish nation around 860AD. Kenneth MacAlpin is believed to have gathered his west coast, celtic army at the stone, before defeating a north eastern Pictish army. This was the most important in a series of battles, in a power struggle which ended when MacAlpin was crowned the first king of the new, united Scotland.
Other stones in the area were reported to be used as standard, or gathering points before important battles at different times. (The Randolphfield stones during the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and the Sherriffmuir stone row, before Wallace's Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Jacobite Battle of Sherriffmuir in 1715).

Fortingall (Stone Circle)

This is the most enchanted place.

The yew tree in the village kirkyard is at least five thousand years old. It is claimed that this magic and ancient thing is the oldest living thing on our planet outside of North America.

Pontious Pilate was reported to have been born and brought up here. the legend says that Pilate was the child of a local woman, and a Roman dignitary. The yew tree would have been at least 3000 years old when Pilate was born. Did he climb it as a boy?

By the time the influence of Jesus' crucifixion and the subsequent religion of Christianity returned to this village, and the sacred site of the tree was claimed by the Roman church, the yew was then about 4000 years old.

The location of this place adds to the magic. The village sits at the bottom of the longest glaciated U-shaped river valley in these isles, Glen Lyon, which has numberous stones and cup and ring marked rocks. I've only seen this Glen on a map, and I intend to visit it. The mountainscape is also stunning.

Randolphfield Stones (Standing Stones)

These stones are supposed to have played a strategic role on the first day of the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. A Scottish nobleman, Lord Randolph gathered a company of spearmen at the stones, in order to block a move by English cavalry who were trying to reach Stirling Castle from the South.
Other standing stones in the area have been reported to have been used as landmarks before battles. A stone row 5 miles away in Sheriffmuir was used as a gathering point before Wallace's Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Jacobite Battle of Sherriffmuir in 1715. A 15ft standing stone in the grounds of Stirling University is claimed to have been used by the western Gaelic army of Scotland's first king, Kenneth Macalpin, before the battle with the North Eastern Picts which resulted in the formation of Scotland.
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