In the region of Badenoch, at the outer reaches of the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands of Scotland, lies the Centre of Scotland Stone. Granted, a big lump of stripey stone may not sound like a top tourist destination. But bear with us, because with a curious mind and a willingness to delve a little deeper than your typical visitor, you’ll find this stone reveals myths, mysteries and entertaining local legends.
The myths and mysteries of the Centre of Scotland Stone
A source of pride – and income – for Badenoch
The current Centre of Scotland stone was placed there in 2015 by a group of enthusiastic locals who campaigned for years for a landmark to replace a stolen Ordnance Survey plaque. The original is mentioned in a 1940s text by author Seton Gordon, and he says the plaque was affixed to a nearby dry stone dyke. Older locals remember being taught about it in school. So far, so good. Marking the true centre of Scotland seems like a respectable undertaking, we hear you say. But. But! It takes on a slightly more mysterious tinge when you discover that there’s no official record of the plaque ever being there, and that Ordnance Survey declined to supply a new one when approached about the matter (we’ll go into the reasons why shortly). And then we find out that in the 1980s, a couple of enterprising locals took matters into their own hands and used a Stihl saw to carve a cross into said wall, covering the stone with dirt and yellow paint to weather it. This became quite the tourist attraction, with busloads of visitors brought to admire the ‘ancient’ marker stone while enjoying a wee dram.
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Nobody can agree on where the true centre point of Scotland actually is – and this is the cause of Ordnance Survey’s reticence. On one hand, it’s constantly on the move, as Scotland’s coastlines evolve due to tides, seasons, erosion, accretion and climate change. On the other, there are many and varied ways to determine it, each of which delivers a different output. In fact, many of the methods place the centre of Scotland in…wait for it…Perthshire, which is Badenoch’s neighbouring county. That’s not nearby, and not even in the Highlands. Best not to mention that to any locals you meet on your travels.
The scene of thwarted crimes
The original-presumed-stolen Ordnance Survey plaque was attached to a stone the size of a football. You would expect its current five-tonne replacement to be a safe bet. But somebody did attempt to steal it (Perthshire rivals, perhaps?) in the dead of night in January 2021, using a mini- digger. They only succeeded in flipping it over and moving it a few feet, so the custodians of the stone simply removed the plaque and affixed it the right way up again on the other side of the stone.
Prior to that, in 2017, a tourist cheekily decided to chip off a piece of the stone as a holiday souvenir. When they tried to make their getaway, however, they discovered their car battery had died. Both the passer-by who stopped to help and the rescue truck that was summoned suffered breakdowns of their own, and none of the vehicles worked until the piece of stone was returned.
Love, multiplied by the power of the stone
As that last story demonstrates, there does seem to be a special force at work where the stone stands, as that’s not the only unusual phenomenon. Many years ago, a drunken couple walking home stopped for a romantic midnight rendezvous at the dry stone wall, at the exact point where the marker stone was. The resulting child grew up to become a famous strongman. More recently, in 2021, two separate couples eloped at the stone, and they’ve since produced triplets and quadruplets.
If nothing else, visit for one of the most beautiful views in Scotland
So, who knows the truth behind the Centre of Scotland stone? Perhaps you can discover it by taking a nap, since it’s said anyone who manages to fall asleep on top of the stone will become a seer, gaining the power of prophetic sight in their dreams. In any case, no stop at the intriguing Centre of Scotland stone goes unrewarded. From here, you can enjoy one of the best views in Scotland: the River Spey snaking its way down the strath, overlooked by the Monadhliath mountains and kept company by lochans and birch forests.
Things to do near the Centre of Scotland Stone
Once you’ve solved the mystery of the stone, there’s no shortage of places to visit and things to do in the surrounding area – starting with the Clan Macpherson monument just across the road. Our three-day Badenoch itinerary has lots of ideas, as does our Badenoch The Storylands app. It contains cycling and walking routes, music and stories celebrating Scottish culture, as well as interactive augmented reality (AR) experiences for local historical sites. There’s even a narrated story all about the Centre of Scotland Stone, which is well worth a listen. We’re afraid it won’t bring you any closer to the truth, but it’s guaranteed to make you smile – and perhaps, in this case, that’s the most important result.
Directions to the Centre of Scotland Stone
If you’re wondering where the Centre of Scotland Stone is located, you’ll find it between Newtonmore and Dalwhinnie, 2km west of the A9.
From the south: Take the Laggan/Glentruim exit off the A9, 8.5 miles north of the Dalwhinnie junction, and follow the road for 1.2 miles.
From the west: Turn off the A86 onto the A889, 2 miles after passing Laggan Wolftrax Mountain Biking Centre. After 1.5 miles, turn left onto a minor road signposted for Glentruim and continue for 3 miles.
From the north: Take the Laggan/Glentruim exit off the A9, 1.5 miles after the Ralia café turn-off. It’s a right turn so take care crossing in front of fast oncoming traffic. Follow the road for 1.2 miles.