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Twelve Apostles

Nithsdale near Dumfries, Scotland

This 88 metre, at its widest ring, is the largest on the Scottish mainland, originally thought to comprise 18 stones, but today 11 survive there were 12 in 1837. Half of the ring is a true circle with a diameter of 89m; the other side is composed of an arc of a much larger circle drawn from a point on the circumference of the first one.  

Five are still standing, the tallest being 1.9m high. The largest surviving block is 3.2m long and 2.3m wide.  Only four of the stones are made of local stone, the other came from two miles away.

A hedge that ran through this ring has recently been removed to improve it.

There are many white quartz crystals within the circle. Several stones have quartz veins running through them and several are a conglomerate with quartz pebbles in them. Many stones are pitted with what appears natural erosion, but some are in rows and on various faces of the stones.

Several of the stones have water worn cup marks, but there is no explanation for these.

A Geophysical survey was undertaken about 1998. This produced no indication of cut features within the circuit of the stones. No evidence of a henge.

Suggested date is 2,000BC.

A 4 inch bronze figure, identified as the figure of St Norbert, was dug up at the stone circle some years before 1882, and is now housed in the Dumfries Museum.

There are two local legends both connected with the missing stone, the twelfth one having gone missing sometime in the 19th century, one local custom has it that Judas Iscariot was responsible for its loss. A slightly different version of the same reads "There is a story about how a farmer was rebuked for removing one of the stones... But the farmer answered that it was only Judas that had been removed".  Another legend  relates to early map making when an errant ink spot was mistaken for the twelfth stone.

Other features nearby

There is also a cursus close to the circle that is now only visible as a crop mark, but denotes a place of some importance, although the purpose of these strange earthworks is unknown.

A river runs about 500yards away to the south.

At the time we visited quite a few years back now, the site was cut by a hedge and we were not able to fully see the site, perhaps one day we will get the chance to take another look, my feeling up to researching this page was that this site was not worth stopping at.

There is another circle with a similar or the same name on Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire OS reference SE126452.

See also

Our section on stone circles

The discussion on the purpose of stone circles

Planning Grid


Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, Nithsdale near Dumfries
Dumfries and Galloway Scotland

Grid Reference:

NX947794  Landranger Map:84. OS Explorer Sheet 313

Map Link:

Multimap, no aerial photos for this area on Multimap

Location shown better at this scale  Multimap scale

Google Maps, aerial photograph scale too low currently to be of any help

Getting there:

2.5 miles NW of Dumfries just off the A76. Take the left turn at Newbridge just after a campsite on the right on the B729 and the circle will be seen in an open field on the left just before a junction. No parking spaces but there is a grassy area at the junction. Walk down the lane to a stile.


A stile gives access to the stone circle


On side of lane, not ideal


An information board

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Stones, probably farm livestock

What to take:


Nature highlights:


Best Times to Visit:












Opening times:

Open all the time



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions: None
Special Needs Access: Have to get over a stile
Special Needs Facilities: none
Children Facilities: none
Dogs Allowed: No known restrictions. If livestock is in field keep dogs on a lead.

Other useful websites:




CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated:02/08

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