Stone Circle, Ninestanes Rig, Newcastleton.
The stone circle on Ninestone Rig is a small circle of eight
earth-fast stones, with a ninth stone fallen inwards and lies
prone. All the upright stones lean inwards but seem to be
in-situ with six of them broken to mere stumps, not exceeding
0.60m in height, and of the remainder one is a regular monolith
measuring 2.10m while the other, which leans less sharply,
measures 1.30m in height and has a chisel-shaped outline when
viewed from within the circle. The "circle" is in fact
slightly oval and dates from the Early Bronze Age.
From Hawick, take the B6399 for Hermitage and Newcastleton. The
stone is in the coniferous plantation after Whitropefoot, about 2
miles before Hermitage. The route to Ninestone Rig Stone Circle is
signposted form just north of the above mentioned bridge. Simply
follow the fence line or forest end running south east. A style
marks where to enter the forest and the circle can be found by
following the firebreak.
On grass verge beside stone road bridge crossing Whitrope Burn,
just after forestry ends.
The nearby Hermitage Castle tells an interesting tale.
Once the home of Lord Soulis, better known as "Bad or
Evil Lord Soulis", an enthusiastic black magician who
used the black arts to perpetrate many terrible deeds. His
favourite past-time seems to have been abducting young
children from the neighbourhood and keeping them in the
dungeon, probably the same dungeon where Sir Alexander was
later to die, until he required them for his foul
Following the massacre of Cout of Keilder and his party,
after treacherously inviting them to a banquet at Hermitage,
and further disappearances of local children, the local
people petitioned Robert the Bruce to "dispose of
him". Robert, already extremely annoyed at the stories
he had heard about the happenings at Hermitage, agreed and
joyfully the locals marched up to the castle, seized the
evil lord and dragged him to a spot known as Nine Stones
Rig, clapped in irons. There they boiled him in a vat of
molten lead. The ghost of "Bad Lord Soulis" has
been seen many times accompanied by his trusted servant
Robin Redcap and sounds of demonical laughter have been
heard at night in the deserted ruin.
The stones on Ninestanes Rig, near Hermitage Castle, as one
story goes, are also supposed to commemorate the Britons of
Strathclyde who, under Aidan, were defeated with great slaughter
by Etheifrith, king of Bernicia, at the battle of Degsanstane or
Dawstane in A.D. 603. I prefer the earlier tale, myself.
RCAHMS records the following information of interest:
"On a careful examination of the ground we found that a
great extent around the circle (Nine Stones on Nine-stone Rig 35
SW 2) appeared to have been occupied and to the south a number
of the same kind of circles had existed but were now entirely
destroyed. The hollow in the centre of each circle is still to
be seen and the appearance of the herbage and the marks in the
earth around clearly indicate the position of the upright
"On the top of Nine Stone Rig there is a whole street of
circular pits running directly from the stone circle. They are
planted at regular distances, and fairly close together, and
they gauge from 8 to 10 feet deep, with rather more of diameter.
They have in most instances a gently sloping side, in some more
marked than others, and runs in a kind of curve towards the
north. These, or some of them, may have been originally natural
subsidence's, although their number, regularity and uniformity
of size are against that idea. All the suggestions are that
these formed the shelters of the men who set up the Circle and
heaped up the barrow... The ground is dry and lying as the pits
do, just a little over the edge of the Rig, there would be no
danger of flooding".
"No archaeological significance could be attributed to
these 'pits' which lie a few metres NNE of the stone circle.
They appear to be simply caused by natural subsidence's in the