British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Hill o' Many Stanes

Hill o'Many Stanes

Unique in Britain to Caithness and Sutherland are multiple rows of small standing stones set out in parallel lines or fan shapes, thought to date from the early Bronze Age. They are found sometimes in the neighborhood of cairns, and may possibly have a religious function, though in the 1970s Professor Alexander Thom argued that they were used to calculate the movements of the moon.

hill o many stanes ©jennifer bailey 2019

The best preserved run down the southern slope of a low hill at Mid Clyth known as the Hill o' Many Stanes. They are small flat slabs, wedged upright with their broad faces aligned in more than twenty rows, fanning out slightly towards the southern end. Today about 200 stones remain, but it is thought that the pattern could once have had as much as 600 stones or more.

The popular thought about them was that gold was buried underneath the stones and this may have led to the removal of some and others have of course been destryoed by agriculture and used for the construction of other buildings. But as in the case of stone circles, it is said that it is dangerous to meddle or interfere with them. A farmer at Bruan is said to have removed one of the Mid Clyth stones to use as the lintel stone for his fireplace. When the fire was lit, the stone burst into flame but was not consumed. This made him so fearful that he returned the stone to the exact place in the row that he had taken it from.

hill o many stanes ©jennifer bailey 2019