THE Mannan stone sits next to the Tollbooth and the Market Cross at the west end of Main Street in Clackmannan and has been attracting visitors for centuries.

The small 91cm by 61cm (3 feet by 2 feet) oval stone on the phallic upright is thought to date from around the third or second millennium BC.

What is certain is that it pre-dates the Christian period although much speculation surrounds its name.

Sometimes known as Clach Manau or Mannan, from the Scottish Gaelic meaning the Stone of Manau or Mannan, the Pagan Celtic sea-god, it is also known as King Robert’s Stone or Bruce’s Stone.

One legend states that the stone may have been used as a focal point for worship of Manau, the sea-god, who it was said lived in it. This may be explained by the proximity of the village to the River Forth, as long ago the water level was much higher than today.

Another is that King Robert Bruce was passing by and decided to rest on the stone. Following his departure, he realised he had left his glove on it and sent his knight Sir James Douglas back to the clack to retrieve his mannan, or glove.

However, this alleged incident must have happened in the 14th century as Clackmannan was already recorded as a place two centuries before.

Another legend is the stone had special powers therefore was of great significance to the prosperity of the former county town.

One final suggestion is it may have been named after the late Iron Age people who lived in what today is Clackmannanshire and Stirlingshire.

The stone has not always been situated next to the Tollbooth and Market Cross. It is thought originally it sat on Lookabootye Brae where the land drops down to the river, and not far from the once-sacred Lady Well.

It is possible the stone was taken at some point to Clackmannan Tower, but was moved to its present site in 1833 by former Conservative Member of Parliament for Clackmannanshire Robert Bruce of Kennet, and parish minister John Fleming.

The whinstone base it sits on comes from Abbey Craig hill, the site of the National Wallace Monument at Causewayhead. The stone itself was broken at some stage, but was later fixed with iron rods.

The Mannan Stone was Category A listed by what is now Historic Environment Scotland on 9th June 1960. It gives its name to Clackmannanshire, and in the early 2000s Clackmannanshire Council had it restored, marking its historic importance.