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Thirlstane Cairn Reconstruction

FUNDERS & PARTNERS: Forestry Commission Scotland
LOCATION: West Calder, West Lothian


This community engagement project was carried out in Spring 2015. It involved an investigation of the site of the Thirlstane (or Thirl Stane) cairn – a local authority and parish boundary marker of particular local significance, near Breich, West Lothian. Excavation revealed that the cairn may have originally been an upright standing stone supported in an informal post setting, supported by a rounded cairn of boulders. Numerous stones lying in the vicinity suggests that the monument was dismantled in the recent past.  Fifty-five of the stones were inscribed with names, initials and dates (ranging from 1852 to 1929) and it has been suggested that the cairn was where local couples to be wed would go and carve their names and a date. Consultation of the Census records have enabled a match to be made with individuals from the local area in the 19th century.  The cairn reconstruction was led by Master drystone waller, Bruce Curtis, and, using the stone in the vicinity, he created a new cairn with a rectangular footprint and a gently sloping batter which shows off as many of the inscribed stones as possible.