The Monachyle Stone
Guest article by Jamie Gorrian
Having read just about everything I could find online by the late Peter Martin, there were always a few articles of his that stuck in my mind. One of which referenced the lost Monachyle stone — a sister stone to the Puterach — near Loch Voil in Balquhidder glen.
There were similar stones at Monachyle, at Strathyre, and at Callander, and no doubt in every district round about, but the man who could lift ‘Puderag’ was a strong man and a champion.1
Being that Monachyle is only 40 minutes from my house, I decided one day in 2021 to go and visit the area armed with only a picture of the alleged plinth of the lost stone in the hope that I’d be able to find some leads.2
Finding the plinth wasn’t difficult. I guessed I’d be able to find it from Peter’s picture, and I was right! The road rises sharply as you come up the hill after Monachyle Mhor hotel. From there, you can see a track up to the right, the plinth is distinctive and instantly visible from the road. With the plinth found, my next task was to find a stone.
My intention was to find and place a suitable stone so that lifting could continue at this ancient lifting site like I did at Sherriffmuir. However, on arrival, I immediately noticed the way the landscape sloped. My instinct said the lost stone could have simply rolled away from its plinth.
I walked down the hill and began searching the deep grass. Eventually, I found the top of a stone sticking out from the ground about 20 meters away from the plinth. After digging it out and turning it over, I instantly knew I had found it — the lost Monachyle stone!
The giveaway was the scores and markings underneath the stone, worn from being placed on the jagged plinth all those years ago. The shape and size also perfect for a lifting stone. This was clearly the one, especially since there was no other stones in the vicinity.
I rolled the stone uphill back to the base of the plinth, found my grip, and placed the Monachyle stone back in its rightful spot on top. The first lift in possibly hundreds of years!
I was elated!
Unfortunately, my story of rediscovering the Monachyle stone doesn’t end there. Monachyle Mhor sees a lot of wild campers. And it was always in the back of my mind that the stone could roll away (again) or get damaged because of them.
Sadly, I was right. On one occasion, I arrived for a lift to find the stone used to secure guy ropes on a tent. On another, after being contacted by Jacob Hetherington, I arrived to find it had been used as a firewall: scorched, with a sliver broken off due to the heat.
I spoke with some of Scotland’s most prominent stonelifters and agreed we would have to relocate the stone for its longevity. I came up with the idea of putting it alongside its sister stone (the Puterach), that way, it would be protected and at least located in the same glen.
After discussing it with Lyndsay, Nigel, and Ashley at Pudrac cottage, they were absolutely delighted to become the custodians of the Monachyle stone! My friend Tam Gray brought his van, we carefully loaded the stone in a wheelbarrow, and then delivered it to its new home in 2021. It’s been visited and lifted dozens of times since.
On a personal note, I was genuinely disappointed about moving the stone from Monachyle Mhor and Loch Voil, as it was the most beautiful location for stonelifting. But protecting the stone means everything.
The Monachyle Stone is available for lifting along with the Puterach. However, please note only the Puterach is allowed on the Pudrac plinth due to wear and tear on the ancient plinth.
Please chap the door if you want to lift the Monachyle or Puterach stones — do not just wander down since it’s private land. The hosts are wonderful anyway. You can find both stones on the map.
Jamie Gorrian is one of the most accomplished stonelifters in the world. He lifts historic stones almost weekly, researches Scottish stones, and hosts his own stonelifting competitions!
With massive thanks to Jamie for sharing his story! You can follow him on Instagram.
Historic references to the Puterach — Peter Martin — Via oldmanofthestones.com ↩
The Stones of the Southern Highlands, page 33 — Peter Martin — Via oldmanofthestones.com ↩