NT8527 : Stob Stones

taken 6 years ago, 3 km from Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title Stob Stones in this square
Stob Stones
Stob Stones
Only one of the two stones still stands. They are of native porphyry rock and locally called the 'Gypsy Stobs' from the tradition that the kings of the Yetholm gypsies were crowned here. J L Mack (1924) suggested that they may be boundary marks, set up on the line of the Border. This may make them of early medieval date, as this section of the Border was fixed around 1222. Most of the Border however wasn't really settled until after the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
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The stones are about 200m west of the current Border fence but at a sharp corner eastwards on its former line, shown on the 1863 OS maps. Its course at that time was defined by piles of sods to the north, 'Oxpool' NT8526 : Bog on Border ridge north of Whitelaw Nick, 'Tuppie's Grave'NT8526 : The search for Tuppie's Grave, 'The Two Grey Stones' (at Tuppie's Sike), and further piles of sods to the east. At one such pile, east of Tuppie's Sike, including for Scotland a stretch of land shown as the Tongue (north of Maddie's Well), the Border line turns south again, eventually passing over Wideopen Head. From there, the line makes a long contour around White Law, to rejoin the current Border line at the col to its south. This whole section is shown as marked by piles of sods, partly on a line the line of an old path branching from the vicinity of Maddie's Well. From the col, this path descends to Old Halterburn.

The area of Yetholm Common so defined by the eastern extension of the border was clearly considered by the Ordnance Survey to be part of Scotland at that time. By the 1899 edition, the Border is on its present line, and I don't know what further agreement was reached that settled the boundary between those dates.

The Stob Stones bear many similarities to NT8828 : Standing stones west of White Hill which makes it possible that their origin does indeed lie in prehistory. It seems to me unlikely that such large rocks would have been brought in to mark the Border, when elsewhere all that was considered necessary were piles of sods. There are certainly remains of several Bronze Age tumuli in the immediate area, albeit without huge stones. In situ features would have almost certainly been chosen to define the Border line.

Those that argue a prehistoric origin for the Stob Stones describe an alignment of the 'leading edge' of the upright stone with the distant Eildon Hills, near Melrose. The stone certainly has a 'nose' pointing roughly in that direction NT8527 : 'Alignment' of the Stob Stones with the Eildon Hills, but in an area surrounded by hills, and no definite sighting line, it does seem a little vague.

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NT8527, 40 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 28 September, 2012   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 2 October, 2012
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Uplands  Paths  Grassland  Moorland 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 8514 2701 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:32.1950N 2:14.2203W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NT 8512 2703
View Direction
Southeast (about 135 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph
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