Ancient Monuments

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Loupin' Stanes, stone circle

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale East and Eskdale, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.2583 / 55°15'29"N

Longitude: -3.1705 / 3°10'13"W

OS Eastings: 325704

OS Northings: 596637

OS Grid: NY257966

Mapcode National: GBR 679M.DV

Mapcode Global: WH6X3.83H8

Entry Name: Loupin' Stanes, stone circle

Scheduled Date: 1 April 1924

Last Amended: 29 October 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM637

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone circle or ring

Location: Eskdalemuir

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale East and Eskdale

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises the remains of a stone circle, a ritual monument dating to the third or second millennium BC. It is located in rough grazings on the flood plain of the White Esk, around 90m to the NW, at around 190m above sea level. The monument, originally scheduled on 1 April 1924 and most recently rescheduled on 5 November 1962, included an inadequate area to protect all of the archaeological remains and the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The visible monument consists of a series of stones, forming a circle with a diameter of around 10m. Six stones remain standing as earthfast uprights, and around another six lie prone at irregular intervals around the circle. The two tallest stones are in the WSW and measure up to 1.6m in height. A low stony bank defines the circle and the stones appear set into it. This may be a result of later dumping from field clearance or may form part of the original monument. The monument also appears to sit on a low platform and it is possible that this feature and the 'bank' are actually the remains of a low cairn that predates the stone circle.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the visible remains of the monument, as well as an area around it within which evidence relating to its construction, use and abandonment may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling extends up to, but excludes, the above-ground elements of the fence on the NE side of the scheduled area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Stone circles typically date to the late neolithic or early Bronze Age periods and are thought to have had a ceremonial, ritualistic significance. The diameter of stones circles, and the number of stones present, can vary significantly. Examples with between 4 and 36 stones have been recorded. The average diameter of known stone circles is 18m with most examples ranging between 3 and 30m. The largest recorded stone circle has a diameter of 100m. Excavation at similar sites has demonstrated that apparently 'fallen' stones may have been placed that way intentionally during the monument's construction. The form of the stones indicates that they are naturally shaped, rather than formed or modified by human activity. The six earthfast stones all appear to be within their original positions, set vertical to the ground surface.

There is no evidence that the monument has been excavated; any notable later activity probably relates to dumping, rather than removal, of material. Evidence relating to further stones or their settings, and other archaeological evidence, may therefore survive beneath the surrounding ground surface. The sockets into which the stones have been set may contain packing material, which may be archaeologically significant. Excavations at other stone circles have shown that the other archaeologically significant features and deposits may surround such circles. These could include timber structures, outlying or central stones, skeletal and cremated human remains, ceramics, lithic tools and other artefacts. We also know that other stone circles can represent a stage in the development of a ritual complex over time. Some of these have evidence of earlier phases of timber settings and burials; there is also evidence for enclosure of a cairn or its increased prominence through additional material and the addition of the stone circle.

The monument has the potential to inform our understanding of the construction, architecture and use of prehistoric ritual monuments. This includes the activities that happened in the vicinity, both within the active lifetime of the monument and in the period of time that it has stood in the landscape since. The monument also has the capacity to further our knowledge of the society that constructed it, their daily life and death, the beliefs they may have held and the rituals that they undertook.

The stone sockets may also contain valuable environmental evidence, which has the potential to inform our knowledge of the landscape within which the monument was built, how that landscape may have looked, the uses to which the land was being put and what habitat types existed. Buried ground surfaces within the monument, potentially below the low cairn and bank, would add to this knowledge and have the potential to inform our understanding of any phases in the construction and use of the monument. Geological analysis of the stones themselves may indicate where they are likely to have originated. This knowledge could further our understanding of the effort that past societies expended constructing this particular type of monument and contribute to our understanding of its significance.

Contextual characteristics

Around 300 stone circles have been identified in Scotland, with most containing between 6 and 13 stones. Stone circles are a relatively uncommon monument in eastern Dumfriesshire, where four definite examples and a further six possible circles are known. Analysis of this monument type across the wider area has identified a potential discrete geographical grouping of a particular form. The area extends from south of Arran, east to west of the Pennines and south as far as North Wales. The stone circles within this area conform to certain patterns and are known as the 'western seaboard group'. Distinctive features of this group are prominent pairings of monoliths in the western arc, as seen in this example, a relatively large diameter and the presence of a central stone. Analysis of this monument and comparison with other examples has the potential to further our knowledge of such monuments, specifically to understand how and why regional variations occur and perhaps even what they mean.

Research into the function of stone circles has been inconclusive and interpretation of the available evidence has suggested funerary, ceremonial, ritual and gathering uses for these monuments. The function and use may have varied through time and over space. Researchers have confirmed direct relationships between the position, orientation and layout of these monuments with celestial events, and one suggestion is that they assisted astronomical calculations.

Water courses appear to be a focal point for many (but not all) of the known examples in this group. In this case, the circle is located in an open, slightly elevated position in close proximity to the White Esk. Stone circles are often located with specific regard to landscape features such as routeways, views, and landmarks such as hills and outcrops. Analysis of this monument and comparison with other examples has the potential to further our knowledge of the placing of such monuments within the landscape in this area and across Scotland, and further afield.

In close proximity to this monument is another stone circle, that of the Girdle Stanes, 595m to the south-west. The two circles are very different in character. The Girdle Stanes is much bigger with a maximum diameter of around 38m, is set in a hollow and had in excess of 21 stones forming its circumference. The placing of these two uncommon monuments so closely together is unusual. As yet their precise relationship is unknown but together they have the potential to further our knowledge of the special nature of this locality in later prehistory.

Associative characteristics

The first mention of the stone circle dates to the Statistical Account of Rev William Brown published in 1791-99. The monument is depicted on the First Ordnance Survey and is noted as 'Druidical Circle, remains of'; slight traces of what may be the platform noted in recent research are also depicted on the smaller scale map. On the Second Edition the circle is noted 'Loupin Stanes, Stone Circle'. This name may refer to the Scots term 'Lowping-on-stane', a name for a mounting block for riders. The site forms part of a local prehistoric trail for visitors.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular our understanding of stone circles of the late neolithic or early Bronze Age. Specifically, this well-preserved example, closely associated with a different type of stone circle, has the capacity to further our understanding of the construction, function, development and location of such ritual monuments within both this region and across Scotland, as well as inform our knowledge of the landscape in which the monument was constructed. The loss of this monument would significantly impede our ability to understand the ritual landscape of late neolithic or early Bronze-Age eastern Dumfries and Galloway and our knowledge of the importance of cosmology, intervisibility and topography to the siting of such monuments.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as Loupin Stanes, Hartmanor, NY29NE 11. Dumfries and Galloway Council SMR records the monument as MDG7561.


Christison, D 1897 'The Girdlestanes and a neighbouring stone circle, in the Parish of Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 31 (1896-7), 281-9.

RCAHMS, 1997 Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 77, 110, 112, 296, no 560.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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