We had been driving for what seemed like ages without seeing another soul on this beautiful Scottish mountain road. Eventually we stopped at the side of a pine forest and parked the car. My friend, and guide Paul Bennett, had said this was a very special place, and it was with bated breath that I struggled through the forest and on up the hillside.
Reaching the top I saw before me a huge standing stone, bent slightly at an angle and pointing towards the sky. It reminded me of a huge dinosaur tooth, like the kind you see in the National Geographic – only this one was 10 feet high. Reaching it, I touched the hard, rough stone with my fingers and my imagination suddenly sent me back thousands of years to when these stones were first erected. I paused, just feeling the grit of the stone…and what it must have meant for these people who erected it maybe 50 centuries or more ago.
Opening my eyes, I looked across to where Paul was pointing and I saw more of them, many more in fact. Paul was grinning – one of those grins when someone has a secret you really want to know and eventually lets the cat out of the bag. A smug ‘I told you so’ grin. I was blown away!
I had been staying with my good friend Paul at his flat a few miles North of Sterling, Braveheart country, and we passed the huge monument to William Wallace and Stirling castle on the way here. I love medieval history, but today we were heading to a era thousands of years earlier.
This place is ancient, and very special. Even the sheep seemed to sense it, as they somehow made a perfect circle in the fields below – maybe in homage to the early humans who populated these lands with the stone circles.
On the way here we passed the ruins of a Roman garrison, and Paul said that somewhere around here was where the Roman 9th Legion vanished into thin air in AD 120 – never to be seen or heard of again.
Looking at these stones I can imagine the ancient Picts covered in blue woad, screaming down the hillside armed to the teeth, ambushing the terrified Romans. Local folklore says that under each stone lies the body of a Roman soldier felled on this plateau.
Yes, Dunruchan is steeped in history – a truly magican and mysterious place, and I will remember it as long as I live.