It was the sort of Tweet that makes you sit up and take notice. "@UndisScot Did you know we have a 2,000 year old stone circle at our nursery? We have visitors from all over the world coming to look at it!" The tweet was from Tynreich Nursery in Ballinluig in Perthshire, and according to the Ordnance Survey the stone circle being referred to stands a short distance east of the southbound carriageway of the A9. We'd driven past within yards of it many, many times but never known it was there.
To say we were intrigued was an understatement. So the next time we were in the area we turned off the A9 at Ballinluig to take a look. Finding the stone circle wasn't as easy as we'd expected.
The map suggested that we simply needed to head up the (now cul-de-sac) spur that at one time formed the A9 through the village, and at the far end we'd find the nursery. The absence of signs didn't inspire confidence, and we were on the point of concluding we'd reached the end of the road in more ways than one when a hidden turn revealed the Tynreich Nursery.
Peering over a gate revealed the stone circle standing nearby, though a sign directed us to the nursery's main entrance a little further along the hedge. Here we were made most welcome and taken to the circle. It is worth noting that the circle stands entirely on nursery property, so if you are intending to visit you should check the nursery opening times on their website, linked from this page.
What you find is a compact stone circle with an overall diameter of some 6.7m, comprising six stones. The individual stones vary in height from about 0.85m to 1.8m. They also vary greatly in bulk. The tallest stone, which is also the most southerly, is a massive triangular block that would have taken more than a little shifting. It is perhaps less massive than it used to be. You can see that (presumably) ice cracking on the outside face of the stone (i.e. on the outside of the circle) has caused a piece of the stone to calve off: sufficiently far enough back in time for the broken faces to be covered in moss.
Very little is known about the circle. Its presence was first noted in 1855, in its Gaelic form "Tigh-na-ruaich", which translates as "the house of the heather", the name being derived from the nearby cottages. It is said that an excavation in 1855 discovered four ceramic urns containing cremation remains. These were apparently broken during their recovery, and their current whereabouts is unknown. There is also talk of an underground watercourse flowing in a line that cuts the circle in half.
One of the great joys about that most rare of 21st Century commodities, ignorance, is that it allows us the freedom to speculate. Tynreich Stone Circle has received many visitors over the years, and the number of theories about it has grown rather than diminished as a result. Several visitors have felt what they described as a strong electric field around the circle. They may well have done, but if so, it is as likely to have originated from the high voltage transmission lines that stretch overhead as from the stones themselves.