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Stane o' Quoybune

Standing Stone, Orkney

This great monolith
lives in a cornfield

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Dating from the 2nd millenium BC and standing at almost four metres high, the Stane o' Quoybune is another example of the numerous solitary standing stones that dot the Orkney landscape. This particular monolith stands in a field in the West Mainland parish of Birsay, near the Stanger farms that took their names from its presence ("Stanger"derives from the Old Norse, "steinn-garšr" meaning "Stone Farm"). The Stane o' Quoybune is another of Orkney's standing stones around which a legend regarding a petrified giant has developed.

Like the Yetnasteen on the island of Rousay, the Stane o' Quoybune travels to the Boardhouse loch each New Year's morning to drink from the cold waters. Local lore dictates that anyone seeing the stone on its anuual trek will not live to see another Hogmanay so it was not surprising that it was not considered safe to remain outdoors after midnightand watch for its movements.

Many stories circulated, most of which are now forgotten, of individuals wishing to see the stone for themselves and whose corpses were invariably found the next morning. One such tale, documented in 1884, tells of a young man from Scotland who upon visiting the islands scoffed at the tale of a walking stone. Much to the horror of the locals, as the hour of midnight approached, the youth set out to begin his watch. As time wore on, the foolish boy began to feel a growing terror gripping him and an eerie feeling crept over his shivering limbs. At midnight he discovered that in his frenzied pacing, he had inadvertantly placed himself between the stone and the loch. Turning to check on the monolith, he was sure he saw it move. From that moment he lost consciousness and his friends found him at dawn lying in a faint. When he regained his senses he "could not satisfy enquirers whether the stone had really moved and knocked him down" or whether the episode was a result of his fevered imagination.

Thanks to Sigurd Towrie for the above information.

Access: Stone is in a private field, but very near from a gate by the road, so can be seen clearly from there.

Rating: General Impression 3, Ambience 3, Access 1

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