Tweedsmuir Standing Stones

On the Fruid road near Menzion are three standing stones, dating from about 2000BC, the largest of which is named the Giant’s Stone. They are often referred to as a Druid Circle, or remains of a Druid Temple, but they predate the Druids. Tweedsmuir Parish records of 1845 state that there were other stones, but these were carted away, presumably to build dykes.

This Monument is protected as a scheduled monument, meaning that it is deemed to be of National Importance

Noted in the Second Statistical Account (1845), the legend surrounding the Giant’s Stone says

From behind it, a person of diminutive stature, known by the name of Little John, discharged an arrow at the head of a freebooter {a pirate or lawless adventurer} of formidable dimension who greatly annoyed the peaceful inhabitants, and who, though on the opposite side of the Tweed, was unable to elude the deadly stroke

The Folklorists Janet and Colin Bord narrated a version of the story above

“This stone and the two nearby mark the place where Jack the Giant Killer despatched his last victim, Jack hid behind the Giant’s stone to shoot, but unfortunately the mortally wounded giant managed to get a punch in and Jack was himself killed. The stone now acts as his gravestone.”

So, who was this Giant? There are a few references to him.

In 1715 the writer Alexander Pennecuik wrote

“…upon the head of a burn on the south side of Tweed, stand the old-house of Hawkshaw, belonging (to) Porteous, from a numerous race of Ancestor’s Chiefs of tat surname. Over against the foot of Hawkshaw – Burn in a Kairn beside the High Road is the Giant’s Grave, so called from a huge and mighty fellow, that robbed all on the way, but was at length from a mount in the over side of the River supprised and shor Death as Tradition goes

Legend identifies Giant’s Grave as the mounded hilly area next to the A701, just south of Tweedsmuir village next to Gala Wood and Gala Burn. This is thought to be the burial place of a hero of romance, whose gigantic stature intimidated weak minds to obedience, and a belief that he was a supernatural being. This “pirate” was shot and killed in an ambush.

Is this the man who had been robbing and terrorising the locals and was shot by Little John, or Jack the Giant Killer?