Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Machrie Moor Standing Stones

The Isle of Arran is often called ‘Scotland in Miniature’ since it features a terrific ensemble of Scotland’s geology. The region is a rich archaeological landscape with plenty to look forward to for fans of chambered cairns and standing stones, with no more famous than the Machrie Moor standing stones. The location is free to visit on the west end of Arran, with plenty of terrific things to do with your family while you’re there.

If you want to know more about no less than six stone circles, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover the history of the Machrie Moor stone circles, how to get there, and much more. Let’s dive right into it.

History of the Machrie Moor Standing Stones

History of the Standing Stones

Carbon dating has estimated that the Machrie Moor standing stones are at least 4,000 years old, and they have been formed over a set of timber circles that have rotted away over time. Nearby, there are a few hut circles that complement that array you can see today. These standing stones were created by Neolithic humans, who must’ve made an immense effort to create such a prominent structure on the swampy moors in Scotland.

Archaeologists believe that the Machrie Moor stone circles were one of the last significant structures on the site, and evidence of human activity around Machrie Moor suggests that it was a haven for many Neolithic projects. This is also evidenced by the fact that the stone circles sit on exactly the same sites as timber circles which stood before it, which may have been a first draft or calibration of the scale before they built it using granite boulders.

Folklore of the Standing Stones

Some special folklore surrounds the Machrie Moor Standing Stones, which evokes the imagination. The Machrie Moor stone circle is sometimes called ‘Fingal’s Cauldron Seat’ after the mythical figure from Irish mythology. One of the stories that features the legendary warrior from the Irish Fionn Mac Cumhail tells a story about the giant Fingal tying their large dog to one of the stones.

One of the standing stones has a hole within it, and it’s said that the giant used it to tie the hound.

The stone circle also holds some mysterious symbolism since the large stones line up directly with the rising sun from Machrie Glen. There’s even a prominent notch indented with the stone that aligns directly with the summit of the Glen.

How to Get to Machrie Moor

Machrie Moor sits on the western side of the Isle of Arran and is relatively easy to reach while on the island. Here’s how to reach the Machrie Moor standing stones from Brodick:

  • Follow Alma Park and Alma Rd to Main St/A841.
  • Drive along The String/B880.
  • Continue to A841.
  • Turn left onto A841.
  • Turn left again.

There’s a car park and parking area for visitors, with ample parking spaces available. Note: To reach the Machrie Moor Standing Stones, you need to drive on a restricted road.

Best Time to Visit the Stones

The Machrie Moor standing stones are a prominent attraction, but there are certain times of the year when visiting the Machrie Moor Stone Circles is worth visiting. Late spring, summer, and late autumn are the best times to see the two concentric rings of Machrie Moor since you can enjoy exploring the farm track and Machrie water that surrounds the stones the most.

The other attractions located on the Isle of Arran are also open during the peak tourist season.

Top Things to Do at the Machrie Moor Standing Stones

Once you’ve found your way to the beautiful Glen where the Machrie Moor Standing Stones sit, here are the top things to do at the Machrie Moor stone circles:

Take a Picture with the Standing Stones

Take a Picture with the Stones

One of the best things to do with the Machrie Moor Standing stones (whichever ones you encounter first) is to take a picture with them. The large sandstone slabs make for a fantastic picture, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Visit the Other Neolithic Sites Nearby

Neolithic Sites

You can visit excellent Neolithic sites on the Isle of Arran other than the Machrie Moor Standing Stones for history buffs to enjoy. Check out significant sites like the Lamlash Stone Circle, Giants’ Grave, and Drumadoon.

‘Scotland in Miniature’ has a wealth of historic monuments to explore, so be sure to add a few of these to your list while you’re here.

Enjoy a Picnic Day Out with the Family

Picnic at the Stones

The large farm track surrounding the Machrie Moor Standing Stones offers the perfect place for anyone to set up a picnic! The dappled sunshine, an artisanal selection of jams, cheeses, and spreads from local delis and the company of loved ones around you.

If you feel that the sun is too harsh, then make sure to bring along an umbrella or bask in the shade of a standing stone that provides ample space for a quick brunch before you head off to your next attraction on the Isle of Arran.

Explore the Isle of Arran

Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran is bustling with super attractions for visitors to check out, aside from the Machrie Moor standing stones. We’ve written an entire guide about the top things to do on the Isle of Arran, so be sure to check it out if you’re planning to include it in your itinerary.

Here are a few that everyone visiting the Isle of Arran should add to their agenda:

Whisky Distilleries

The Isle of Arran has several notable whisky distilleries where you can savour and learn about the generational art of distilling fine whisky. Visiting a distillery isn’t only for whisky lovers, though, as each distillery offers a fascinating tour through its processes that highlight the rich culture and history of the island.

And, of course, there’s a whisky tasting waiting at the end for those who’ve booked a ticket. Check out the Lochranza Distillery and Lagg Distillery for an authentic taste of Scotland.


Wherever you are on the Isle of Arran, the mighty Goatfell towers in the distance. As Arran’s tallest mountain, Goatfell offers a challenge to many adventurers who come to the island. Whether it’s by bike or hike, this nearly one-kilometre-tall mountain is an outdoor expedition just waiting to happen.

Island Cheese Company

Aside from its fine selection of whiskies, the Isle of Arran is also a superb destination for foodies! Cheese lovers, sometimes called turophiles, have much to look forward to. Places on the Isle like the Island Cheese Company stock the finest homemade cheeses and relishes you could ever want.

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