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Poldean, standing stone 110m SSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2861 / 55°17'9"N

Longitude: -3.4126 / 3°24'45"W

OS Eastings: 310379

OS Northings: 600015

OS Grid: NT103000

Mapcode National: GBR 47L9.ZX

Mapcode Global: WH6WS.KD5G

Entry Name: Poldean, standing stone 110m SSW of

Scheduled Date: 5 February 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12697

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone

Location: Wamphray

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises a standing stone likely to date to the third or second millennium BC. The monument lies at around 85m above sea level in a low-lying field on the E bank of the River Annan and is adjacent to a road.

The monument consists of a standing stone of whin, approximately triangular in section. It measures around 1.45m by 0.8m at the base and stands to a height of around 1.45m. The rough appearance of the stone suggests it has survived sustained attempts to break it up, and this is supported by the presence of a nail jammed into a crevice.

The area to be scheduled is circular in plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a good example of a standing stone, likely to date to the third or second millennium BC. It is in a stable condition and we know of no evidence that it has been moved. It is therefore likely to stand within its original socket, probably a shallow depression or pit. Standing stone sockets can contain packing stones and other archaeological material such as burial deposits. They may be surrounded by other related features, including smaller stone settings, pits, burials and timber structures. It is clear that in some instances, single standing stones represent the only surviving component of a larger stone monument (such as a stone alignment). The potential presence of associated artefacts and/or important environmental information in a pit beneath the stone, or in surrounding pits, reinforces the potential of the monument.

In this case, considerable effort would have been required to transport, position and erect the stone, demonstrating that it was a significant and worthwhile achievement to those who were responsible. Where it has been possible to date comparable monuments, they typically derive from the third or second millennium BC. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to inform our understanding of this period, and may have the potential to further our knowledge of contemporary ceremonial and ritual landscapes.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located in Annandale, a major routeway northwards into the Southern Uplands. The line of a Roman road lies 565m further west, on the opposite bank of the river.

In Scotland as a whole, standing stones are very often located with reference to ritual or burial monuments such as henges, stone circles, cairns and other types of burial, and there are grounds to believe that many are part of ceremonial or ritual activity. In addition, the position of many appears deliberately chosen to take advantage of routeways, views and intervisibility with other monuments, and some are likely to be part of a network of landmarks. It has been argued that the position of some standing stones with reference to other contemporary monuments often coincides with observation lines upon the rise or setting points of the sun or the moon on a distant horizon at key dates in the year (for example winter solstice).

Although standing stones are a widespread class of monument in Scotland, and Dumfries and Galloway contains a notable concentration, there are few in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, giving this stone particular interest. The distribution of the few examples here is diverse, with some along waterways but others on higher ground and on skylines. The nearest recorded standing stone is Chapman's Stone, 1 km further south along the valley, which occupies a very similar landscape setting but has fallen. However, the valley and its sides have a relatively dense concentration of prehistoric remains, including some that may have a date range overlapping with the standing stones. These include ring ditches and many burnt mounds, the latter clustering along burns of the eastern slope of the valley. Further study of the prehistoric monuments here may further our understanding of the nature of inter-relationships and increase our knowledge of the way in which contemporary society may have used different parts of the landscape.

Associative characteristics

The standing stone is associated with an interesting local tradition that it was erected to mark a spot where Jacobite troops camped on their march south to England in 1745. However, many standing stones have local traditions that purport to explain their existence, but there is often no evidence to verify the explanation. Chapman's Stone (1km to the south) was traditionally regarded as marking the droving stance and, at a later date, the grave of a travelling horse trader (known as a 'chapman'). For Poldean, there is no known evidence to support the story of an 18th-century origin and the form of the stone is consistent with it being a prehistoric monument.

The Ordnance Survey 1st edition 1:10,560 map depicts the standing stone.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the ritual and ceremonial landscape of the third or second millennium BC. The presence of another standing stone 1 km to the south in the same valley enhances this potential, especially given the rarity of standing stones in eastern Dumfries and Galloway. This standing stone is also important because it lies in a landscape that contains a relatively high density of other types of prehistoric monument. The loss of this monument would significantly impede our ability to understand the nature of earlier prehistoric ritual and ceremonial practice, both in eastern Dumfries and Galloway and in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as Poldean, NT10SW 4. The Dumfries and Galloway Sites and Monument Record records the monument as MDG408.

References:

RCAHMS 1920, Inventory of Monuments in Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 213, no. 630.

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape. Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 111.

Ritchie G and Ritchie A 1991, Scotland: Archaeology and Early History, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Thom A 1967, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Thom A and Thom A S 1990, Stone Rows and Standing Stones. Britain, Ireland and Brittany, BAR Int Ser 560 (i).

Williams G 1988, The Standing Stones of Wales and SW England. BAR Brit Ser, 197.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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