This is the more prominent (though the smaller) of the two hills, since it is better exposed to view. It is seen here from a point near the entrance of NS8381 : Hills of Dunipace cemetery
. For another view, see NS8381 : Hills of Dunipace (the smaller one)
. This site, with its curious mounds, bore the name Dunipace long before the modern village of that name existed (the present-day village of Dunipace was originally called Milltown of Dunipace).
(at The Modern Antiquarian) for various interesting comments about these hills, and Link
(at Canmore) for a concise discussion of their likely origins. As is mentioned at the first of those links, one theory is that the name is derived from the Gaelic "dùin na bàis", meaning "hills of death", but this is just one of several possibilities.
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Occasionally, mention is made of a third hill that has been cleared away.
One such comment is found in the second volume of the "Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland" (1884; ed. Francis H. Groome), in its entry for Dunipace. That entry draws on John Hill Burton's "The History of Scotland from Agricola's Invasion to the Revolution of 1688" (Volume 1, page 67), which speaks of "a third hill in the same place having been levelled, and showing complete internal evidence of natural formation" [the Gazetteer quotes this verbatim, except that it adds "about 1835" as the date when the hill was levelled].
On the other hand, William Nimmo's "A General History of Stirlingshire" (published in 1777) speaks of only two mounds. It says of the River Carron: "Not long after it hath reached the low country, the river comes up to a small, but pleasant valley, where, upon the north bank, stand two beautiful mounts, called the hills of Dunipace, which are taken notice of by most of our historians, as monuments of great antiquity".
These conflicting descriptions can be reconciled as follows: there was indeed a third hill, but, as described by the "New Statistical Account" (1845), it lay about two miles to the west of the two remaining mounds. The book notes that the hill was removed to form an embankment on the turnpike road near Denny Bridge (NS80798307
). Next, its internal structure, suggesting an entirely natural origin, is described. Finally, the book describes a tomb found about three feet below the summit of the hill: it contained some bones, fragments of earthenware, and other material. It seems, then, that a conspicuous mound of natural origin was adapted to serve as a prominent burial place.