The Bore Stane – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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The Bore Stane

This ordinary-looking rock may have played an important role in a 16th-century Scottish battle.  

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One of the smaller but prominent landmarks in Edinburgh’s residential area of Morningside is the Bore Stane (also called the Bore Stone). The stone is located on Morningside Road, the neighborhood’s most prominent thoroughfare, at the end of a wall separating Chalmers Church Edinburgh (previously known as Morningside Parish Church) from an adjacent residential property. The brownish-red stone is shorter than a person, standing at just 4’ 10”, and from a geological perspective it may appear unspectacular, but it might have some historical significance.

According to legend, King James IV of Scotland gathered his army at this location in 1513 before setting out to fight the English army at the Battle of Flodden (which was fought about 40 miles southeast of Edinburgh within the modern-day English county of Northumberland). The plaque indicates that the Royal Standard was pitched into the stone when the Scottish army was assembling. Afterward, the rock simply laid in a field until, in 1852, a Scottish landowner named Sir John Stuart Hepburn Forbes had the rock placed on a pedestal at this spot.

However, the stone’s history is disputed. First, King James IV apparently set out for battle before the standards were ready. Second, some historical records indicate that the Scottish army assembled at a different location before the Battle of Flodden. Finally, an archaeological analysis in 1942 indicated that the Bore Stone may have been the cover for a cist (a small stone coffin in the ground used to bury the dead) and had nothing to do with the Battle of Flodden.

Nonetheless, the Bore Stone is still recognized as a local landmark and a war memorial. The doubts about the veracity of the historical significance of the stone also did not stop people in 2013 from raising £1700 to restore the plaque beneath the stone.

Know Before You Go

The stone, which is clearly marked by the plaque below it, is located on the east side of Morningside Road just north of Chalmers Church Edinburgh and is visible at all times of day. The area is within walking distance from Edinburgh Old Town but can also be easily reached by car, bike, and bus.

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