Prehistoric gathering place
These two lonely sentinels have marked the route over this desolate moor for some 4,000 years. Who raised them, and why, are details lost to us.
Tradition records that they are the last remnants of a circle, which perhaps had as many as 14 stones. Seven still remained in 1873. The others have been removed over the centuries, some for use as lintels in neighbouring farm cottages.
has been translated as ‘hollow of the cairns’, perhaps indicating that there were prehistoric burial mounds nearby. The two surviving stones, almost 2m tall, are situated on the western edge of a low knoll and stand close together.
Pilgrims’ stopping place
At some stage in their history, both stones have had Christian memorials added to their western faces. These memorials are in the form of an expanded-arm Latin cross with incised crosslets in the four angles.
They would have been added by medieval pilgrims on their way from Ayrshire to the shrine of St Ninian at Whithorn
The place-name of the nearby farm of Kilgallioch has been translated as ‘church of the standing stones’, suggesting an early church site. A writer in 1907 refers to three remarkable beehive holy wells near the spot, further reinforcing the idea that this was a stopping place for pilgrims.
The stones now serve as a landmark for a different kind of travellers: those enjoying the peace of the countryside as they walk the Southern Upland Way.
- The location – so remote from civilisation you feel you are the only person in the world. Well worth the hike.
for additional information.
Region – Dumfries and Galloway
At New Luce on the Southern Upland Way about 5m from Balmurrie Farm by foot.
From New Luce take the minor road past the church to Balmurrie Farm.
Grid reference - NX 222 716.