Ancient Stones
A Guide to Standing Stones & Stone Circles in the South of Scotland.

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Ancient Stones & Ritual Activity

We often assume that standing stones and stone circles no longer have a function in the modern world. They are just relics from a long forgotten age of superstition, naked devils and evil spirits. But this is far from the case. We only have to watch the television on mid-summers eve to see hundreds of people carrying out rituals at ancient sites across the country. And these are only the ones we hear about.

Many of the rights and rituals that take place today are relatively modern inventions. No doubt they have been based on what evidence the archaeologists have discovered, from ancient manuscripts and by word of mouth but whether they are what originally took place, we cannot say for certain. And who is to say that what takes place today is no less real or important or meaningful than that of the past?

I firmly believe that many of the ancient sites are still "active" in the ritual sense. There are still people who follow the "old ways" and regularly leave offerings to the spirits of the stones. They don�t shout about it, but quietly get on with what they do, simply placing their offering quietly and reverently without fuss or commotion.

During my research into the ancient stones of south east Scotland, I have on numerous occasions found evidence of ritual activity taking place. At the 001 Witches Stone near Spott in East Lothian, evidence of candle wax and offering of money have been recorded as recently as 2003. On some of the standing stones in the Tweedsmuir area, small pebbles of quartz were found placed on top of the stones. At 034 Gowk Stone near Penicuik, I found an offering bundle containing a feather, small bone (bird) and a quartz pebble, all tied together with a brightly coloured piece of wool. This was obviously placed there deliberately and for a purpose.

At 014 Maiden Stone on Traprain Law, where good luck and increased fertility is gained by those who pass naked between the stone and the bedrock, I read of one visitors who did indeed complete the ritual. So much did he enjoy the experience that he wanted to complete the ritual again, although the thought of being discovered put him off.

In the South of Scotland, this ritual activity does not seem widespread from the relatively few finds at ancient sites. This is not to say it does not happen regularly but personally I have only been able to visit these sites once, possible twice over the past three years, and the evidence of ritual offerings may soon disappear.

While the main purpose of the Ancient Stones web site is to include any details of ritual activity that are found. So, if you visit any of the sites listed here and find any evidence of ritual activity taking place please get in touch.

For reference, evidence of ritual activity may include:

Candle remains such as stubs or wax droppings, remains of insane sticks, evidence of burning such as soot or charcoal, food offerings, animal remains such as feathers, quartz pebbles, other offerings placed on or beside the stones, chalk markings, soil disturbance.

The above list is not exhaustive and you should look for anything unusual or out of place.

014 Maiden Stone, East Linton.

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