The Caiy Stane: Edinburgh’s Hidden Standing Stone

You don’t need to travel to far-off places to find pieces of ancient history. Nestled by the roadside in a quiet residential suburb of Edinburgh stands a prehistoric standing stone known as the Caiy Stane. But who put it there, and why?

The Caiy Stane is a large slab of red sandstone measuring around 9ft (2.7m) tall. On its reverse are six weathered cup-marks — and some Nineteenth Century graffiti! It stands at the side of the pavement in a small alcove in a garden wall on Caiystane View. Today the stone is surrounded by houses, but this was once a rural location with wide views in all directions.

The stone has gone by different names including the Kel Stane, the Cat Stane, and even General Kay’s Monument (although the General’s identity remains a mystery). It’s also sometimes called the Camus Stone, which was actually a nearby standing stone that had a rather sad fate: it was ground up and used for road repairs.

The Caiy Stane is thought to have been erected as a memorial stone, commemorating a great battle that took place somewhere nearby — the word Caiy might come from the Gaelic Cath, meaning “battle“.

Unlike the cup-marks, however, exact details of the battle aren’t set in stone. Romans, Vikings, and even Oliver Cromwell’s army have been suggested as being involved. The truth, unfortunately, will likely never be known.

What is clear is that the stone has been here for a very long time. Estimates date it as early as the Neolithic period, potentially before 3000 BCE. Evidence of cairns, cists and urns suggest that the surrounding area was used as a burial site during the Bronze Age. The stone must therefore have been an important site throughout its history.

The stone’s significance doesn’t stop in the past: today it gives its name to many streets in the surrounding area. A short stroll down Caiystane View leads to Caiystane Avenue, Caiystane Terrace, and Caiystane Crescent, to name but three. 

To reach the Caiystane, buses 4 and 400 stop on Oxgangs Road at Caiystane View. The stone stands a short distance along Caiystane View at NT 24243 68357.

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