One of the best
Torhouse is one of the best-preserved prehistoric stone circles in Scotland. The 19 dumpy granite boulders forming the 20m-diameter circle are graded in height. The larger stones, over 1m high, are in the south-east sector.
In the centre of the circle lie three boulders in a line, two upright and the central one recumbent (lying down). This feature was recorded in 1684 as ‘King Gauldus’s Tomb’, but its original function is not known.
Though not yet archaeologically excavated, Torhouse was probably built in the Bronze Age, some 4,000 years ago, for a religious ceremonial purpose that is now lost to us.
Some archaeologists have suggested that flattened stone circles such as Torhouse were designed for complex geometry, aligned with the rising or setting Moon or Sun. Others think that the flattening of one side was an architectural conceit designed to emphasise one aspect of the monument.
A prehistoric regional centre
Torhouse Stone Circle does not stand alone in the landscape of the Bladnoch Valley. Two further stones stand 40m to the south-south-east, one large and the other small, and there is a row of three stones 130m to the east. In addition, there are surviving remains of several burial cairns, and records of others long removed to build field dykes.
This is quite an unusual concentration of ritual and funerary monuments, suggesting that Torhouse was a regional centre of some importance in prehistoric times.
- The completeness – the full ring of 19 stones is pleasing to the eye.
Region – Dumfries and Galloway
4m west of Wigtown on the B733.
Grid reference - NX 382 565.