Believed by many to be haunted by fairies and other creatures of Celtic legend, the Dunino Den and its surrounding features definitely create a supernatural atmosphere.
In the woods behind the Dunino church lies an ancient pre-Christian holy site consisting of an “altar stone”, a well, and an ancient footprint carved into the rock overlooking a small stream. The well, which sits at the top of the “den” is said to have been used for human sacrifice by ancient druids, although it is more likely that it was simply revered as a natural wonder. Stairs carved into the cliff during a bygone Pagan era lead down into the den proper. Here Celtic crosses and symbols have been carved into the cliff face by worshippers both modern and ancient. Pagan pilgrims venturing to the site leave offerings of all kinds hanging from the trees and tucked into crevices in the cliffs, from coins to ribbons to panties.
A “wishing stone” is located in the cemetery of the Kirk, which dates to the 1800s. Located along the southern wall is a large stone believed to be from the 9th-century. It has been reported that at one time it was used as a sundial towards the end of the 1600s. Now, a stack of coins are piled up along with invocations for good fortune.
Know Before You Go
From the small Dunino church, walk back on the small trail that runs along the right side of the church between the two parts of the graveyard towards the woods. When you enter the woods follow the trail straight on another 50 m or so until you come to the altar stone. The stairs down into the Den will be on your left.
Be aware that the path is unpaved and the steps leading down to the Den are uneven. Wear sensible shoes and use caution if the area is damp. There is parking adjacent to the church