Following on from my recent visit to the Torhouse Stone Circle, I took advantage of a rare spell of spring-like weather to go in search of further ancient monuments in the area. It is quite surprising what you can find relatively nearby with a bit of research. Access to the Internet certainly helps in finding out exactly where these hidden treasures are but even then it is best to go prepared for an adventure!
Drumtroddan Standing Stones near Monreith are not quite as impressive as Torhouse but they are part of a series of ancient stone structures in a fairly remote area of farmland. There are three stones, one thin tall stone (approx. 3m in height) and two broader stones. Unfortunately the two larger stones have fallen over, the most recent occurring within the last two years. From research I know that it was reported in July 2011 and has since been covered over but I don’t know of any plans to repair the site.
Estimates date the stones to between 2,000BC and 1,000BC but it is not known whether they are in any way connected to the Cup and Ring markings on rocks approximately 400 yards to the east which date to a much earlier period. It is believed that there were originally four stones on this site and that solstice alignments may exist. The stones line up with the midsummer sunrise in the north-west and the midwinter sunset in the south west.
If you were to come across the stones by chance you may well miss the nearby cup and ring marked rocks. To access the stones is relatively simple at the moment, although work of some sort is clearly in progress that may eventually make it more awkward. Finding your way to the Cup and Ring marks is another matter altogether! There is a sign that guides you off the main road to the back of a farmhouse and from there it is a case of treading carefully! There are three areas of Cup and Ring marks cordoned off in a field on a working farm. The access paths are more suited to tractors than to visitors so wellington boots are essential! The cattle were not out at the time of my visit but others have been less fortunate.
The Cup and Ring marked stones are very unusual and it struck me that an archaeological study of the whole area would probably reveal a lot more about the site. I am sure that there are people better informed than I to speculate on the value of further research but the small penned off areas seem to offer a tantalising peek at what may lie in the surrounding area. Many of the rocks are mossy and difficult to study but the cup and ring marks are clearly visible on some of them. There are two enclosed areas within the field and another just the other side of a wall in a small coppice.
It is difficult to know quite what to make of these ancient stones. To my knowledge, there are no solid theories on their purpose and they may simply have been created as decorative art forms. What is known is that these kinds of markings have been repeated across Scotland and elsewhere. Estimates for the dates of the carvings range from 10,000BC and 3,500BC.