Folklore Fridays: Torhousekie Cairn

Torhouse Stone Circle

Tourhouse Stone Circle, Photo by Gordon Hatton

Folklore Fridays return with the tale of Torhouskie Cairn (Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland).

Grinsell highlights this site as one example of how locals believed that disturbing archaeological remains also disturbed the ancient spirits that dwelt in them.

During the 19th century the cist slab from one of the cairns close to the Tourhouse Stone Circle (pictured) was removed and used to cover a water conduit. Following the slab’s reuse, numerous people claimed to have seen a light moving in the darkness, travelling from the cairn – along the route the slab had been taken – to its new resting place. Locals were then afraid to disturb or open any more tombs. However, subsequent generations seem to have been less fearful, as the RCAHMS website notes that very little remains of the cairn as “most of it has been removed to build walls”.

The stone circle itself is also associated with a piece of folklore, with the three largest stones being referred to as King Gauldus’s Tomb – this association going back to 1672. King Gauldus, or Galdus is a mythical Scottish King, who is allegedly also buried at  Cairn Holy II (also in Dumfries and Galloway).

The Historic Scotland website notes that the Torhouse stone circle is of Bronze Age date and is somewhat out of place in SW Scotland, having more in common with the recumbent stone circles of NE Scotland.