Carlin stone

Carlin stone

Carlin Stone or Stane is the name given to several prehistoric standing stones and natural stone or landscape features in Scotland. The significance of the name is unclear, other than its association with old hags or witches.


A 'Carl' in Scots is a commoner, a husband or in a derogatory sense, a churl or male of low birth. The name 'Carline' or 'Cairlin' was also used in Scots as a derogatory term for an old woman meaning an 'old hag'. [ Scots Dictionary] ] It is also said to be a corruption or equivalent in ScotsMcHardy, Stuart (1999), "Scotland: Myth, Legend & Folklore". Pub. Luath Press, Edinburgh. ISBN. 0-946487-69-3 P. 24.] of the Gaelic word “Cailleach”, meaning a witch or the 'old Hag', the Goddess of Winter. [ The Goddess of Winter] ]

Carlin is used as a surname and has several variations e.g., Carlen, Carlon, Carolan, O'Carlin, O'Carlen, O'Carlon, O'Carolan, Carling, Carlton, etc. It is stated as being of Irish Gaelic origin and is found somewhat less frequently in Scotland. [ Carlin on Rootsweb] ]

Scottish sites of Carlin stones or natural features

Carlin Skerry, Orkney

This is a rocky islet in the South of Orkney. [ Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland] ]

Alvah, Aberdeenshire

Near Sandlaw Farm in the parish of Alvah is the Carlin Cist, thought to have been part of a Cromlech at one time."The New Statistical Account of Scotland". 1834. P. 161.]

Backhill of Drachlaw, Aberdeenshire

This stone was part of a recumbent stone circle, around convert|95|ft|m|abbr=on in diameter. It has several alternative names, such as the Caerlin stone; Cairn Riv; Cairn Rib; or Cairn-Rieve. It's map reference in the parish of Inverkeithny is NJ 6744 4659. Three stones remain in line, the Carlin Stone between two others quite small in comparison. In addition, there are two set stones projecting inward from the Carlin Stone.This boulder is rugged, unshapely, and most unusual in height. Other stones were broken up and removed within relatively recent times; the mounds of stones being carted away for making dikes or drystone walls. In or near the circle were found a small perforated axe-hammer, portions of 3 bronze armlets, flint chips and a jet button. [ The Inverkeithny Carlin Stone.] ] [ Aberdeenshire Carlin Stone] ]

Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross

This natural stone outcrop is known as Carlin Maggie and has the look of something imported from Easter Island, but it is natural. It is said by some to be a Member of the Scottish Parliament, turned to stone by the interminable wait for the completion of the new Parliament Building, and by others to be a witch turned to stone by the Devil after she got on his nerves.McHardy, Stuart (1999), "Scotland: Myth, Legend & Folklore". Pub. Luath Press, Edinburgh. ISBN. 0-946487-69-3 P. 24.] The Devil threw a lightning bolt which had the effect of petrifying her. [ Carlin Maggie the witch] ] It is a rock pillar estimated to be convert|30|ft|m high, on the Western slope of Bishop Hill, overlooking Loch Leven. The OS grid reference is NO 18403 04413. [ Carlin Maggie] ]

Dunlop, North Ayrshire

On top of the Common Crags overlooking the village of Dunlop and the Glazert Water is a large procumbent boulder known on the OS map as the ‘Carlin’s Stone or Stane’. It is also known locally as the Hag's Stone.Oral communication to R.S.Ll.Griffith by Mr. Clement in 2006]

It is not listed by the RCAHMS [ RCAHMS Canmore site] ] and is not as well known locally as the nearby megalith known as the Thurgartstone.

Darvel, East Ayrshire

Three farms named 'Carlingcrags' on the Ordnance Survey maps are to be found above Darvel in East Ayshire.

Waterside, East Ayrshire

A Carlin Stone is situated on Whitelee Moor near Craigends Farm, below Cameron's Moss near Waterside in East Ayrshire. A nearby watercourse is known as the Carlin Burn, joining the Hareshawmuir water just below the site of the Carlin stone. The stone has been much visited in the past; indicated by the remains of a footbridge running to it across the Hareshawmuir Water.Coord|55|39|34.6|N|4|20|59.7|W|

Carlins Cairn, Dumfries and Galloway

This is a mountain in the south-west of Carsphairn parish. [ Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland] ]

Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

This town was known as Carlinwark until 1792. The title came from nearby Carlinwark loch in the north of the parish of Kelton. [ Carlinwark Loch] ] McHardy, Stuart (1999), "Scotland: Myth, Legend & Folklore". Pub. Luath Press, Edinburgh. ISBN. 0-946487-69-3 P. 25.]

Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway

A Carlin Stone is to ben found at 'The Derry', near to the head of Elrig Loch near Wigtown. [ Derrie Carlin Stone] ] It isn thought to have been part of a Stone circle and is situated at the OS Map Reference NX326497. [ Photographs of the Carlin Stone.] ]

cottish Borders

The Carlin's Tooth is the name of a natural rock outcrop in the borders between Knocks Knowe and Carter Fell.Mack, James Logan (1926). "The Border Line." Pub. Oliver & Boyd. P. 215.]


Near Kirkhill outside Stewarton are several farms having the name 'Kilbride' in their title. Bride, Brigit or Saint Brigid was originally the Celtic Goddess linked with the festival of Imbolc, the eve of the first of February. [ The Goddess of Winter] ] She was the goddess of Spring and was associated with healing and sacred wells, therefore the antithesis of the Carlin or Cailleach.

Papers in the Scottish National Archive state that the lands of Kilbride Cunninghame near Stewarton were also called the 'Lands of Carlin.'


External links

* [ RCAHMS Canmore archaeology site]
* [ General Roy's Military Survey of Scotland 1747 - 52]
* [ Old maps of Scotland from the National Library]
* [ Old Ordnance Survey Maps]
* ['s_Guide_to_Local_History_Terminology A Researcher's Guide to Local History terminology]

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