Witchis Stane, Platt Hill, Ratho.
Platt Hill can be seen to the north west of
Ratho, a small village to the west of Edinburgh. Near the trig
point a single standing stone can be found and is known locally
as the Witchis Stane. The stone measures 0.95m high x 0.60m wide
x 0.30m thick. There are
considerable stone works, such as walls, in the immediate
vicinity and it is possible that The Witchis Stane formed part
of these works, although its actual purpose is now forgotten. A
couple of fallen and similar stones can be seen nearby. One
measures 1.40 x 0.42 x 0.30m, the other 1.70 x 0.45 x 0.30m.
Parking as noted below, follow the road north and then veer left
along a dirt road, just as your leave the village. This track will
take you along the north side of Platt Hill. You will need to
climb over the fence and ascend the hill to reach the stone.
In Ratho village or in parking area beside the church on the north
side of the Union Canal.
The stone and surrounding area is reputed to have been
associated with witchcraft and possibly witch burning.
This stone certainly looked the part and does appear to be
similar to other standing stones in the area. The problem arises
that the site has been reworked extensively with much of the
stone from the hill fort having been reused to construct
agricultural enclosures. The two recumbent stones may hint at
quarrying in the vicinity and the Witchis Stone may have been
erected relatively recently.
The lack of historical evidence and records of this stone
does not help to confirm any authenticity to this stone although
local folklore does associate the stone with witchcraft. The New
Statistical Account of Scotland (1834-45) notes the following:
At the time the improvements on the hill were going on, a
tradition existed of a woman's having been burnt here for
witchcraft. This led to an examination of the spot specified
as the scene of the superstitious execution, when a quantity
of burnt ashes were found quite entire.