<< Image Pages >> Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian) - Standing Stone (Menhir) in Scotland in Highlands

Submitted by Anne T on Wednesday, 24 May 2017  Page Views: 3134

Neolithic and Bronze AgeSite Name: Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian) Alternative Name: Strontian Hotel (Strontian); Branks Stone (Strontian); Penance Stone (Strontian); Clach a'Bhranguis
Country: Scotland County: Highlands Type: Standing Stone (Menhir)
Nearest Town: Fort William  Nearest Village: Strontian
Map Ref: NM8158061357
Latitude: 56.692723N  Longitude: 5.568599W
4Almost Perfect
3Reasonable but with some damage
2Ruined but still recognisable as an ancient site
1Pretty much destroyed, possibly visible as crop marks
0No data.
-1Completely destroyed
no data Ambience:
2Not Good
0No data.
no data Access:
5Can be driven to, probably with disabled access
4Short walk on a footpath
3Requiring a bit more of a walk
2A long walk
1In the middle of nowhere, a nightmare to find
0No data.
no data Accuracy:
5co-ordinates taken by GPS or official recorded co-ordinates
4co-ordinates scaled from a detailed map
3co-ordinates scaled from a bad map
2co-ordinates of the nearest village
1co-ordinates of the nearest town
0no data
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Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian)
Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian) submitted by Anne T : An extract from the 1872 OS Map showing Clach a'Phoanais - thanks to the anonymous member who drew this to our attention. (Vote or comment on this photo)
Standing Stone (Menhir) in Highlands

Recorded as Canmore ID 23124, their 1960 entry says: "This apparently prehistoric standing stone measures 5ft 2ins by 2ft by 14ins, with a deep notch in its top and an iron ring sunk into it. People were chained to it as a punishment on market days (ONB 1872). It is listed by Argyll County Council as The Branks Stone or Penance Stone". The report for 1970 tells us: "As it is not shown in this position on OS 25" 1898 it has presumably been moved here from NM 8154 6136 but there is no local knowledge of the circumstances." [Update August 2017: A post to the Portal shows the stone clearly marked on the 1872 OS Map - see OS Map 1872 Argyllshire, Sheet XXVIII - with thanks to our Anonymous user who posted this. HES have since emailed to acknowledge this is correct; see the comment below with more information].

The Northern Antiquarian (TNA) also feature a page on this stone - see their entry for Clach a’ Phoanais, Strontian, Inverness-shire, which gives directions, a brief archaeology and history and some local folklore.

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Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian)
Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian) submitted by Anne T : The 1898 OS Map shows no stone, whereas the 1872 map does. (Vote or comment on this photo)

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Nearby Images from Geograph Britain and Ireland:
NM8161 : Hotel at Strontian by Andrew Wood
by Andrew Wood
NM8161 : Strontian Hotel by Russel Wills
by Russel Wills
NM8161 : Strontian by Vanhercke Christiaan
by Vanhercke Christiaan
NM8161 : Fuel stop, Strontian by sylvia duckworth
by sylvia duckworth
NM8161 : Filling station, Strontian by Richard Webb
by Richard Webb

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"Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian)" | Login/Create an Account | 3 News and Comments
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Re: Clach a'' Phoanais (Strontian) by Anonymous on Wednesday, 23 August 2017
I notice in your text you state that the above stone was "not shown in this position on OS 25" 1898 it has presumably been moved here from NM 8154 6136 but there is no local knowledge of the circumstances."

I have seen a copy of the OS Map 1st edition 1872 from the National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/74427310) which clearly shows the stone in its current location.

Hope this helps!
[ Reply to This ]
    Re: Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian) by Anne T on Thursday, 24 August 2017
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    So it does! Many thanks for this.

    I've amended the text on this page and sent both The Northern Antiquarian and Canmore a note of your link. When I get chance I'll print the map, scan it and add an image to this page.

    [Update 28th August 2017: I've just had a reply from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) which reads: "I will forward the information you have supplied to our Data Team, who will make any necessary amendments." If anyone spots an update to this record, I'd be pleased to hear.]

    Brilliant - thank you again. Best wishes.

    [ Reply to This ]
    Re: Clach a' Phoanais (Strontian) by Anne T on Monday, 04 September 2017
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    I've had a reply from an Archaeological Field Investigation Office from HES Archives this morning. This says:

    "It seems that Alan Ayre, the Archaeological Field Officer with the Ordnance Survey (who wrote the entry dated 27 May 1970) was mistaken. The position of the stone is shown at exactly the location where it stands to this day on both the 1st and 2nd editions of the OS 25-inch map.

    It appears from the second map reference which he quotes that he must have taken the circular symbol above the letter 'a' in 'Bhrangis', as the position where the stone stood in 1898 - having failed to recognise that this is simply an element of a larger symbol that was intended to denote the character of the strand. The correct symbol is situated on the crest of the hachured scarp; and the error has arisen because this is situated well to the east of the legend on the 2nd edition. In mitigation, it has to be said that the relationship between the legend and the spot marking the stone's location is much better represented on the 1st edition of the map. However, this cannot have been available to Ayres and hence, his belief that the stone must have been moved from the one location to the other.

    The actual entry in the Name Book is more telling than the condensed and ameliorated version presently in Canmore. It reads as follows: 'A rude slab 5 feet high 2 feet broad and 9 inches thick, stands in front of the Inn at Strontian. On market days it was the custom when any one became obstreperous, to chain him to this stone until he showed symptoms of repentance. Signifying 'Stone of Punishment''

    This custom is reflected in the alternative names provided by the Argyll list (1915) - 'branks' being a fine Scotch word referring to a halter or a gag.

    However, it seems very unlikely that this stone was erected especially for such a mundane purpose and so a prehistoric origin seems acceptable.

    The NGR giving rise to the location on Canmap situates the stone at Ayres misread position. The correct NGR is NM 81580 61357."

    I've corrected the NGR on the site page. With many thanks to our Anonymous user for pointing this out. Nice to know we are able to correct the historical record when we need to.

    Note to our Anonymous user: if you could register as a Portal user (no charge, just enter your user name and email address (the later is kept completely private)) I can send you a private message to say thanks!
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