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Gogarth Bay (Round Cairn)

Coflein provides the many blue spots and we only have to click on them to see what wonderful things there are abroad in our often less than inspiring countryside.
So when I clicked on this Bronze age round cairn, high on a cliff overlooking the Irish sea, and below a frankly brilliant Iron age fort, I thought "oooh that'll be a good one". The sea crashing against the rocks up and down the coast, Choughs and seagulls going about their daily business, the sun slowly sinking into Southern Ireland which would be clearly visible on a clear day, inspiration guaranteed I'd have thought.

It rarely, if ever, goes the way we'd like it to though.

100 miles separate my house from South Stack on Angelsey and not for one second did I spend any time driving through fog on the way here. Parking in the car park by the gift shop/cafe etc I could see fog on Holyhead mountain, but it was windy and I'm not going up to the fort so I was still hopeful of some inspiration coming my way.
I walked up the road past the bright white folly Ellin's tower, to another, less formal car park, behind this one is a footpath, I let it lead me away up hill and into the fog, which will be lifting any minute now. I pass by two small lakes which I cant see because of a misty ridge between us, I come across a well laid road, leading no doubt to the two Aerials that are down here, the first aerial is just a tall pole, with two small buildings, pass 'em by, the second aerial is much bigger, at least the scaffolding where it was is, unless the scaffolding is the aerial, either way pass it by on a stony foot path.
As soon as you pass the perimeter fence go up the rocky hill directly behind it, the round cairn is up here.
I'm sure the big aerial less than 150 meters away might have an impact upon your soul searching, but in this thick fog it is completely invisible. As is the sea, the mountain, the sun, and everything else, let alone Ireland some 91,165 meters away, sorry, 56 miles.
The cairn sits on it's small rocky ridge rather precariously there is no room either side of the cairn, some stones are down the side of the hill, it is, even without spacial awareness, an impeccably placed cairn.
The makeup of the cairn is various, on top is the larger stones, pushed round the sides to create a bit of a wind break, but mostly they are small stones, fist sized maybe, some are quartz in differing colours. In the centre of the cairn are a couple of large flat stones that if Phil Harding told me were from a broken cist I could be persuaded, but here on my own, I merely shrug at them and stare blankly into the fog. There is one large boulder, off to one side that is somewhat more problematical, it must be part of the cairn, it wont be field clearance, not here, my sense starved brain decides it's a cist capstone in the Irish boulder burial tradition, considering where I am, that's not totally without logic.
On my way back to the car I casually break in to the aerial's compound, drawn on by clearer skies, I can see blue, I stand round under the aerial watching to see if the ridge with the cairn clears of fog, ready to scamper back up if it does, but it doesn't, as I get closer to the cairn the fog thickens as I pull away it lessens, closer thickens, pull away lessens, some may joke about weather gods, but it practically introduced itself here. Barely more than a hundred yards west of the cairn and aerial the sun comes out, out of the fog and it's a beautiful day, tourists stand round watching the dramatic sunset over the sea, I turn back to the hills and fog and shake my head, like that is it?
I'll go to Trefignath instead, it's not far away, maybe I could make it there before the sun goes down, it will be a good one by the looks of it.
postman Posted by postman
1st November 2015ce

Caves of Kilhern (Chambered Tomb)

I'd been to Glentirrow and thence to cairns north of New Luce on the Barrhill road, the sun was sinking.. time for this today too? Not really, but couldn't resist, despite gammy leg. The Caves had been on my hitlist when planning my holiday, and the photos had sealed it - this place was a must see. Parking at the side of the minor road where the Southern Upland Way crosses, then up the track to the gate with side gate for walkers, and up the slope alongside the plantation. The Way here is undefined, choose any rut from several. Another gate came into view. Beyond, a hairy silhouette with big horns. Gawd, not a g a i n. A highland cow, calf alongside. Since there was a gate between I approached. A motley collection of other cattle were there too. All turned and ambled off. Should I continue or head back? The former. The more distinct track was boggy in places. The trees were behind me, a stone wall to my left. At the top of the rise was another gateway which had no gate. The left hand gatepost is an old railway sleeper. Had I looked to my left there I would have seen the site, but I kept my eyes front as more cattle came into sight. Warily I continued down the track, crossed over a stream and then bore sharp left on another track, up and over a rise. The cattle were a few hundred yards away and stayed put. Like Glentirrow, in 2015 there's no signs to your destination. Beyond a wire fence and gate I saw a rectangular fenced off area, and thought the Caves were in it. No. The foundations of a building, covered in black plastic. Where were they? The sun was setting and the light was going. I looked to my left and saw a capstone's silhouette on a rise about two hundred yards away. Phew, just in time. I tried to get to them, and found that the ground between contained very deep, hidden drainage channels. Be warned. Really. I picked my way across, and made it. It was worth it. A great place. If only I could have stayed longer. The sun was hitting the horizon. I stood a minute or two, circled, took some pics then headed for the wire fence, thinking, rightly, that the drainage channels would cease before it. The fence was followed back to the gate by the rectangular fenced area. Soggy footwear was a better price to pay than a fall in one of those drainage channels. It was then that a bull started roaring. F**k. I had to go in that direction to get back to the Way. I kept a low profile as I returned to the top of the rise. Which of those dark lumps beyond was the bull? A second then roared somewhere in the distance in response to the first. Back on the track I walked as quick as I could, looking behind, listening for footfalls. None. Onward, back to the 'sleeper' gateway, paused. The Caves appeared ghostly against the vegetation surrounding them. I resolved to return, said farewell, returned to the other gate. No highland cattle. Relief. It was very nearly dark. The plantation was now a roost to inumerable crows and jackdaws, and I thought of recording their cacophany as a new ringtone for my phone. No time. Onward... I could scarcely see where I was going, but knew at the bottom of the slope was the final gate. I was glad to make out its shape, and knew that a little way down the stone track beyond was my car. Boy, was I relieved to sit inside it again. Finding that the Southern Upland Way has bulls on it and no warning signs is something future visitors should note. Back to lovely New Luce. It has a fine pub, the Kenmuir Arms. Good Beer Guided. Driving, I couldn't drink, despite temptation. Back past Glentirrow's stones to beyond Leswalt on the North Rhins, my tent and chicken curry under the stars. Memo to self and others: Friday night at the Kenmuir is haddock and chip night. They smelt good. Next time... Posted by spencer
28th October 2015ce

Dun Sgalair (Stone Fort / Dun)

Visited: September 7, 2015

Dùn Sgalar stands hidden away on the northwest shoulder of the hill immediately west of Dùn a'Cheitechin. Starting at Skeabost cemetery, where there is parking, cross the field, head past the impressive bastion of Dùn A'Cheitechin, cross into the next field, and ascend the gently rising hill beyond. Its summit is labelled "Dùn Sgalar" on the OS map, but that’s not where you will find the dun.

You have to carry on about 250 metres to the northwest, along a level but narrowing shoulder. Dùn Sgalar stands on the very tip, overlooking the waters of Loch Snizort.

Dùn Sgalair is a compact little fort, guarded by steep drops all around. Little structure is immediately visible. In places, some large stones of the foundation course can be seen but in the main, the only other significant structure is a grassy bank surrounding the fort (no doubt hiding more remains of walling courses).
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
26th October 2015ce

Drumtroddan Standing Stones

Yet again inadvertedly following in CARL's wake - I hadn't seen his fieldnotes till just before posting this - this was my fourth site on my final day in this lovely part of the world, and I had a further three on the day's hit list, trying to catch up after doing my leg a mischief. Perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind, but the single standing stone and its fallen friends - yes, they should definitely be re-erected - didn't really grab me despite their magnitude. A lot of this may be due to their immediate surrounds.. I felt that the fence was a bit superfluous, unless it was to delineate ownership of the site, and that the very neatly cut grass somehow didn't suit as well as natural length pasture would have. The site felt cooped up, tamed. I spent about half an hour there, but a fair bit of that was scanning the horizon, looking at the high points, trying to reconcile them with the Landranger. I took about twenty pics, turned and left. Yes, I want to return, yes, I do not want to put others off from visiting here, but I got far more from visiting the Wren's Egg and Nest, particularily since I'd found what I'm now sure are further unrecorded or unrecognised in situ outliers tucked away there when fieldwalking, immediately before this visit. My head was still abuzz, and these stones may well make a bigger impression on return, which, all being well, is a certainty as I didn't visit the other sites in the immediate vicinity. What a hotspot Monreith and its environs is. Certainly, though, stone size to me is unimportant. I think I 'got more' out of dumpy, abused little Knockinaam. Each to their own. Stones patted, nonetheless. Posted by spencer
25th October 2015ce

Rispain Camp (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

I totally agree with what CARL says. My visit, some three months after his, was in the late afternoon of a blue sky day. It was a change to visit a site that was well signed. The only other vehicles iin the visitors carpark were heavy farm machinery. Up the track beyond a short distance and an access gate came into view on the left. Through this, and there was the camp, with access directly ahead to its middle. Grass, as per Barsalloch fort, pretty manicured. Historic Scotland does its job. I circled anticlockwise, snapping away with camera and smartphone. I had visited over twenty five sites and found no one else there. Same here. I could take the place in undisturbed. I disagree with CARL about the ditch height, which, particularily at the far end, was well above my head when I descended to its bottom. Climbing up at halfway along the far end I continued snapping away.. I think the best view of the place is from here. I held my camera above my head to capture panoramic views, and then noticed that the sun setting behind me was casting my long shadow over the earthworks. I snapped some more. Such a well preserved place. Those that doubted its antiquity pre excavation can be readily forgiven. Continuing my circuit I reached the second last corner, and looked down. There at my feet on the grass at the edge of the ditch was a syringe. If ever there was a more unpleasant juxtaposition of ancient and modern... my photography became darker. The sun was going down and would be setting in under an hour. This was the last day of my holiday, and I had resolved at its outset that the finale would be at Torhouskie. Time to go. Posted by spencer
24th October 2015ce

Plos de Bafignac (Cup Marked Stone)

The Aude is not exactly famed for it’s rock art so on a visit to the Ventajous dolmen a few months ago ,I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover some .I I had noticed a rock among the trees that would have meant instant investigation in Blighty ,but not here , but I decided to have look anyway and couldn’t believe the result . Further searching in a sq Km of the dolmen resulted in four separate groups of marked rocks . Part of the explanation may be that the immediate area is not Limestone which covers most of the region .
Pics are not great water was in short supply and light in the trees was not ideal . The main distinguishing features were quite large cups often with connecting grooves and no rings .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
22nd October 2015ce

Teroy (Broch)

How to find Teroy - it's worth the effort, simple if you know. After leaving the A77 I parked on the other side of the minor road to the single storey house that precedes Craigcaffie and walked down the adjacent very pleasant tree-lined stone farm track, straight initially. After the track crossed a stream it curved NE, following the stream's course, whereupon a strip of forestry came into view. I walked round the end of a very dilapidated metal gate and up an overgrown track with the sound of the burbling stream on one side and forestry on the other. After a couple of hundred metres or so another gate came into view, which was by no means vertical, held up by wire, and had to be climbed. Beyond was pasture, and visible at the other side of this was another metal gate at the edge of a far more substantial area of forestry. This one could be opened and shut. The overgrown track resumed, stone wall on the stream side. The track was virtually impassable with verdant bracken and gorse. After a few yards a very well worn animal track - I assume deer - headed into the forestry on my right. I took it and walked between the conifers, climbing uphill looking for signs of the broch... which I eventually found - but directions for finding are based on my return journey. So: walk keeping parallel to the overgrown track about three trees into the plantation so your eyes dont get poked by low dead branches. Eventually as you climb gently you will come across, in close proximity, a strip of corrugated asbestos, a large curved piece of corrugated iron, and then a large rough tressle table with a corrugated iron top. When you get to the latter, look uphill along the conifer row. You will see a clearing, sky beyond, with a small tree - a hawthorn - on its left. You are looking at the broch. Walk up between the conifers and you will find a very peaceful place. There are some roughly circular stone outworks some three feet high which also make use of a natural stone outcrop - I wonder whether these are part of an earlier structure, and whether the place was reused by the brochs builders, building their structure on the NE part of these. There is a more substantial natural stone outcrop on the SE side. Devoid of forestry this promontory broch would have had a fine view over Loch Ryan. The stonework of the broch itself is only about a foot or so high, but of a fair thickness. In summer it will be difficult to fully appreciate the sites construction due to the covering of bracken, nonetheless I found greenery of any nature a pleasant contrast to the surrounding conifers. It really was a fine place to be on a sunny day. I heard a raptors call, and then a goshawk flew over, and another called in response. I pottered around photographing, and found a stonework lined void a couple of feet deep on the E, landward, side side, where I assume the entrance was. I clicked away, and then a piece of moss covered stone that I was standing on gave way. I fell into this void, camera in one hand, smartphone in the other, unable to arrest my fall. My right thigh muscle hurt rather a lot. End of visit. I was able to hobble back to the car, thankfully. There had been no mobile phone signal had I not. A most salutory lesson. Things could have been worse. There can be perils in solo adventures of this nature. Visits to subsequent sites had to be based on nearness to my car, some shelved for another time. My leg took days to mend. Nonetheless, I want to return to Teroy. It was a little peaceful green island. So, plenty of archaeology to see and ponder over... a reused site? Make sure you don't fall into it, though. Posted by spencer
21st October 2015ce

Doon Castle (Broch)

One advantage of autumn holidays in this part of Scotland is that like as not you can have places to yourself. I particularily appreciated it here. The farm track remains driveable since Broch's visit, with stone bases to the wheel ruts. Drive slowly, mindful of the ridge between, and you'll be fine. It was certainly worth it.. a glorious sunny day, empty car park, and Ardwell Bay is superb. You have two choices of route to the broch, the walk round the point from the bay, or taking the track that leads to the cottage a little bit beyond the car park, and then a path, vertiginous in places, leading from the cottage round the point, when the broch comes into view.. or you can treat the walk as a circular one, as I did., taking Broch's route. As you approach the broch, the path runs along a very narrow ridge with drops either side. This would have been the original path used during occupancy as there is no other feasiible approach, and it is worth looking at the block stonework underneath your feet, very probably original. The two entrances to the broch renained sufficiently intact to get the gist of the place, and somebody has tried to rebuild a little bit of the walls to create more substance, but weather should make short work of this. The rest of the site was substantially degraded, but nonetheless this remains a place well worth visiting and spending time. Next to Stairhaven it's the best preserved broch in these parts. I recommend climbing a way up the adjacent slope and looking down, seeing how it fits into the land and seascape and why the site was chosen. It is surrounded by drops to the sea on three sides, with one sheltered cleft with could have been used for boat haulage. A site high on ambiece. It was low tide, and I walked along Ardwell Bay's footprint free sand after completing my circular walk, munching on the edible seaweed, while a pair of divers and their young fished as they traversed the bay parallel to me, no more than a hundred feet away. If the weather's on your side a fine place to chill. For those visiting with family in tow this place is a must. Posted by spencer
21st October 2015ce

Bieldside (Cairn(s))

Sadly this cairn is about to vanish going by its present condition. Flattened by forestry and horse walking there is a scatter of stones approximately 8 meters in width. At its best the cairn reaches no more than 0.3 meters in height.

Still on a nice sunny day the Colthill forest (plenty of woodland walks) feels a very old place despite being practically surrounded by Aberdeen and its ever expanding suburbs.

Entering Bieldside from the east take Kirk Brae, the first minor road heading north west. Keep going until the Colthill farm entrance, the cairn is directly opposite.

Visited 1/10/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
20th October 2015ce

Hill Of Boghead (Cairn(s))

Once upon a history there were many cairns to be found on the Hill Of Boghead but sadly only one really remains. 3 or 4 others seem to have vanished or have been ploughed up or more likely trashed by the erection of electricity pylons.

Still one wee cairn still survives against the odds beside a massive rock (no name). 4 kerbs remain in place in a cairn which is some 3 meters high and 0.3 meters high. Animal damage has affected the northern side. Still the cairn has nice views of Midmill cairn, Tuach Hill (home to a stone circle) and Bennachie.

I approached from the Cairntradlin side (south) and parked at the Muir Of Kinellar (the people at Concraig being unhelpful) and followed the farm road north west until it becomes a dirt track. From here I headed west and jumped the fence into a small wood near a recently built barn. The cairn is in the west side of the wood near some big boulders.

Visited 24/9/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
20th October 2015ce

Blairbuy Standing Stones

What a rare pleasure it was to visit some stones and not find cattle in the field. Yes, there's a little bit of erosion round their bases, but they look set for another thousand years, easy. I spent some time circling round them, photographing, using them to frame the Wrens Egg and Nest, basking in the autumn sunshine in the field downhill and over the road. I walked from Monreith over the fields to get to these and the latter, on the way encountering an elderly lady and helping her with a troublesome gate. We had a good chat as we walked slowly, and I asked her if she thought the farmer would mind me visiting the sites on thier land. Oh no, it would be fine. She carried on when I stopped to photograph...and then went into the farmhouse. No problems here. Enjoy. What I do regret is not visiting the nearby Fell of Barhullion, which lowered over the far side of loch. The Wren had blue sky, the Fell a backcloth of dark cloud. A leg injury while broching meant I had to ration my walking somewhat. The Fell, capped with dark vegetation, I assume gorse, looks a place with presence. Next time. Ditto all the cup and ring marked rocks. There's scope for a daysworth of exploring within a small radius of Monreith. Not as big a hotspot of sites as, say, Kilmartin, but, nonetheless, lots to see. All that I went to I want to revisit.. lots to absorb too. Why Galloway and the Machars seem to be so little visited, both by contributors to TMA and generally, is a mystery. I'm hooked. Posted by spencer
18th October 2015ce

Barsalloch Point (Cliff Fort)

I visited this site in 2014 and thought it a 'must' to return to this year... one of those places that has a nice, very tranquil feel to it. Well cared for by Historic Scotland. It is unexcavated. Views over lush farmland eastward, and great views over Luce Bay westward and below.. I've sat and watched the sun sink over the Mull of Galloway: a recommended experience. Worth the climb up those steps from the small car park, even though they've made me blow a bit. Take a look at the slightly raised almost complete circle of stone rubble that protrudes from the manicured grass at the cliff edge midway between the two westward ends of the D-shaped ditch overlooking the bay - remains of an earlier cairn, perhaps? If driving down the A747 to Monreith with all it's nearby sites, stop. It is right by the road. Be warned though, you may find yourself lingering for longer than you intended. Time stops here. Posted by spencer
18th October 2015ce

Stair Haven (Broch)

Definitely only access from the shore, and at low tide. I had a walk a good way along the clifftop path which heads south from Stairhaven, and it is either precipitous or a mass of bramble and gorse. Ouch. Nonetheless I recommend a walk along the path as there is a good view down to the broch at one point and it helps to show the sites place in the land and seascape. Of the brochs seen in west Galloway I thought this was certainly the best preserved, even though that's not saying much. Well worth a visit.. but do watch that tide. Posted by spencer
18th October 2015ce

Edinchip Chambered Cairn

I attempted to visit this site on October 8th 2015. It is easy to find the railway embankment referred to by BigSweetie and others - but now there are major earthworks under way with earth being removed from the embankment and much evidence of construction traffic, though no actual work was going on when I was there. Currently it is hardly possible to ascend the embankment because of this, so I had to leave disappointed. Maybe things will become easier again in the future - I hope so! Posted by rogerkread
16th October 2015ce

Horsell Common (Round Barrow(s))

Visited 13.10.2015

Like many of us (of a certain generation) I grew up with Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. I loved this album (still do) and can well remember when it first came out listening to it at night and being too scared to get out of bed to turn the record over! Despite this it is still one of my top 3 albums of all time. Anyway, this is the background of why I had wanted to visit Woking (home of HG Wells) and Horsell common (where the Martians land) for so long.

After seeing the Martian ‘street art’ in Woking town centre it was only a short drive out to the common. A convenient car park is situated next to Brittania Wharf office complex. In the car park is a detailed map showing where the 3 barrows are and information on the objects found during excavations.

The first barrow is next to the sign / adjacent to Brittania Wharf. Despite this the barrow isn’t obvious as it is covered by ferns, brambles and trees of various kinds including oak and holly. Once to get to the top you can make out the barrow a bit better. It is quite large and stands approximately 1.5m high. As I rummaged around in the undergrowth I became aware of several people looking at me from the offices, no doubt wondering what I was up to?!

I then crossed the road and followed the ‘path’ through the trees. The first area you come to is (unfortunately) very litter strewn with cans, bottles, plastic bags etc and evidence of fires. No doubt this is where the local youth spend their summer evenings! The ‘path’ then disappears as the area behind this is very overgrown. Going by the map in the car park this should be the location of a disc barrow but I couldn’t see any trace of it. It must be very low and hidden by the vegetation. I probably waked right past without realizing it although I did have a good look.

I skirted around the ‘wall of vegetation’ and re-joined up with the path the other side. The path was now obvious and was bordered by horizontal wooden posts. The common also opened up with open heath surrounded by trees on all sides. The main barrow soon came into view and is easily seen to the right of the main path. A smaller path crosses the top of it. The barrow has clearly been dug into but otherwise is in pretty good condition. Despite not being overly big you get a surprisingly good elevated view over the common from the top of it.

The sun was shining, the air was still. Not much in the way of bird song but a lovely autumnal day to be out and about. It was a 300 miles round trip to visit Horsell Common. Most people think I am mad (I probably am!) but it felt so good to finally this place which holds a lot of associated memories for me. Horsell common and the barrows are worth visiting if you happen to be in the area but perhaps not worth driving 300 miles for!

No sign of any Martians. I have been told the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one. But still, they come………......
Posted by CARL
16th October 2015ce

Maen Llia (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The temporary fence surrounding the stone has now been taken down. Posted by mattbotwood
15th October 2015ce

Barbrook II (Stone Circle)

A lowering sky over the moor, standing at Barbrook 1 looking upwards wondering if it's going to brighten up, thought I'd kill some time by going in search of the other monuments dotted about which I hadn't planned on visiting (why?). Followed the track past a couple of cairns and then whoah, there it is, something quite unique, got my pulse going. I'd definitely rate it as more worth the trip than Barbrook 1, charming though that little circle is. Reading the previous fieldnotes afterwards had me thinking again about the whole 'to restore or not to restore' conundrum and in this case the argument comes firmly down on the 'restore' side. As I sat there marveling at it the clouds shifted, the sun poked through and I skipped back down to Barbrook 1 feeling very pleased with myself. ironstone Posted by ironstone
14th October 2015ce

Glentirrow (Stone Circle)

Since I visited last year the sign to the stones has gone. There are now no further signs to the stones. If without GPS do not rely on the OS map to get your bearings when driving. The most distinctive feature in the vicinity, the forestry plantation to the north of the road to New Luce, has been significantly reduced to a rectangle away from the road. From the look of the stumps this happened at least ten years ago. So, to find the stones: park near the white '2M' stone and go through the new bare metal gate after assessing the direction of the road there. This mirrors the direction of the longest approach part of the path to the stones. Head, as has been said before, for eighty metres or so along the path to where the first sign used to be. There you will find a little stream - or at least a muddy patch - and an area of bracken, sedge etc. Cross the stream and continue along the defined path across a section of resumed rough grassland for another hundred metres. For the last part of this section you will have an area of sedge on raised ground on your left/western side. When the sedge patch ends not continue ahead on the clearly defined path - this is the wrong direction. Instead, hug the edge of the sedge patch as it turns northwestwards and start to ascend the hill via an initially ill defined path...several little ruts. Soon this path becomes significantly more defined. It has two ruts, and is pretty straight. A wireless mast on top of a hill will come into view ahead, then, in line with it, you should see a gate at the far corner of the field. The path heads straight for this.The stones and their outlier should be seen poking out of the grass to your right very near the path about, I'd say, 120m before you get to the gate. Do not be tempted to say 'aw, dinky! sweeeet!' They are the height they are because they have sunk into the peat. What you see are just the stones tops. I have read a record of a stone row to the south which has sunk into the peat and vanished completely. This four poster is well on the way. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't initially a good five or six feet high. CAUTION: Be very careful when exploring the surrounds to the stones, or, indeed, anywhere away from the path as there are hidden drainage gullies over the entire area, which, I promise, could be ankle breakers. One nearly got me. Nonetheless, enjoy this peaceful place...lovely on a sunny evening. I saw several deer while there. I had a gingerly look to see if the drainage works had revealed any of the sunken stone row without success, and circumstances willing, will certainly return. Those visiting in, say, three hundred years may well find nothing. Posted by spencer
14th October 2015ce

Kemp's Wark (Promontory Fort)

Shamefaced erratum: I have replaced all my fieldnotes for this site as I've belatedly realised that I've mistaken it for another visited further up the coast. Memo to self: check map references. Right, try again.... I drove down the minor road to the beach, Broadsea Bay - there's only one gate to open and shut - and parked near the base of the fort, access to which on the seaward side is unfenced. I cast my eyes upward.. how to climb up there? There is a conical outlier on the forts northeast side, which looked to have a path up that was clamberable. This soon petered out though, so I had to zigzag upwards, with a bit of heaving and pulling on bracken and heather. Yes, it was steep. The gradient directly beneath the fort looked even steeper. After cresting the outlier the downslope on its landward side and the final climb up to the fort weren't too bad. As I attained the latter two curlew flew off, calling. They were not the only occupants. There were cattle. Fortunately these were docile and without calves, and vacated the place for pasture inland. What a fine place. The top is of some size and almost bowling green flat, and the seaward side looks like it has been considerably landscaped by the forts builders - it has been squared off. The fort's northern side ends in a drop which, though not sheer, is pretty intimidating. The only raised earthworks on the site were where this northern side of the promotory met the coastline proper, where there are three pronounced but fairly short raised banks with two ditches between, on a roughly NE/SW axis, with what I believe was the entrance to the fort adjacent to the latter. Access to this entrance could have been both by a pretty level path from inland or by a narrow valley which curves clockwise down to sea level and the beach beyond. This looked like it had been considerably landscaped. The entire site on a large scale map would, in a way, look like an elongated comma, the point of which being the approach from the beach. To the south of the entrance commenced a single flat incision into the hillside which curved round on a level contour about six feet below the site till it ended abruptly on the fort's seaward side. From the beach it looks like a notch on the southern side of the fort's skyline silhouette. The path along the incision is clear, about ten feet wide, with dense gorse on its steep, downhill side. Careful, though, that you don't encounter a tardy cow or two coming round the corner like I did. It was on this path that I found something that made me connect with those that had built and lived here.. stock activity had exposed an distict occupation layer of fine material. I stopped and communed. There was no stone of any description on the site at all, as far as could be seen. All earthworks were just that, earth. Any additional defence would have been probably wooden pallisade. I descended the curved valley from the entrance to find my way blocked at the road by a barbed wire fence, which I climbed, not realising it was open ended at the beach, where I then saw that there was a cattle track climbing it seemed to the fort's summit from by the cattle grid. I wouldn't have wanted to meet its users en route though. Stand on the great beach at low tide, look south towards Killantringan Bay with its dun and Black Head beyond. A fine place. Look up at the imposing fort, very well worth a visit.. but if you want majestic settings viewed from seaward still a poor second to Dunman, a site which at time of posting I have yet to get TMA approval for. Dunman's beyond compare on this coast. Posted by spencer
14th October 2015ce

Knock and Maize (Standing Stone / Menhir)

I had set myself a target for my holiday of a minimum of three site visits per day. On my first day, having only done two - the forts at Corsewall and Portobello - on returning at dusk to my campsite, the excellent North Rhinns Camping near Leswalt, my eyes lighted on this nearby site on the map. The stone looked to be near the road, and I read Broch's notes. 'Dammit, it's going to be dark but there's a full moon..I'll give it a go and get my third'. I parked up the side road by the gate, a short distance after the road left that for Portpatrick. In the field I saw some poles for electric cables in the gloaming, then, by the nearest, a smallish dark lump. It didn't move. Not a cow...or bull. Could it be...? Broch had done well to keep that pole and its pals out of his shots, as it is only about ten feet or so from the stone. I got my camera and hopped over the gate, got to the stone and got some flash shots with my camera and smartphone. The full moon was rising and casting some atmospheric shadows. The stone's faring well enough..packing stones exposed by livestock wear, but it's stocky sturdy and still well set. After ten minutes I heard a farm dog bark, not excitedly but.. mission accomplished, time to go. Pat. You've got to pat. See you again in daylight.. Number three. Posted by spencer
14th October 2015ce

Killantringan Bay (Stone Fort / Dun)

Reiterating Broch, if you don't fancy making the descent from the escarpment behind, a visit to this site is tide dependent. On the evening I visited the tide only receded sufficiently as light was fading. The main problem is at the rocky outcrop near the bottom of the steps from the car park. Watch your footing and keep your hands free as the seaweed and boulders are rather slippery. I couldn't find the site on my visit last year, and I wouldn't say it was late when I did so this time..except I saw a bat. Yes, little of the place remains, but it's still worthwhile, not least because of the very fine beach, which, out of season, in the evening you'll like as not have to yourself, and also the view from the other car park up at the lighthouse, where I've now come a couple of times to watch the sun go down over the Irish Sea. My site visit was truncated by the fast approaching darkness and also the arrival of a couple of cars in the car park and my ungrounded fear that their occupants may have had designs on mine. Memo to self: must return in broad daylight next time - tide willing. If you like to combine your hobby with chilling on a beach look no further Posted by spencer
14th October 2015ce

Lundin (Cup Marked Stone)

The main rock ,as noted in was discovered in 1966 , what went unnoticed is the rock 1 metre away with 8 small cups ,not quite as obvious as the main rock but surprising it wasn’t noticed .
Btw the local pronunciation of U is often 'oo ' so Loondin not Lundin , Cooltoolich not Cultulich etc .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
13th October 2015ce

Terally (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Before setting out on my explorations of Galloway sites in 2015 this was a site that I had decided I would definitely visit for no better reason than that I liked the name. Do not rely on the position indicated on the OS map - I think it is slightly nearer the '9' numeral shown. This was the last site visited on a day spent exploring some superb lesser known sites in the South Rhins, and was the only one featured on TMA. This is being corrected. Parking at dusk in an informal parking area above the shore of Terally Bay I walked up and down the verge of the A716 looking at the skyline of the raised field on the landward side of the road and, after a few minutes, 'aha!' I spotted the top of the stone against the fading light. Access to the field, which had been freshly shorn of its corn, was via an ungated entrance, on the south side of which was a very distinctive gorse covered mound, of which more shortly. I made my way along the field edge to the stone, which is about four feet high, roughly rectangular, and compared to all the other stones I visited, unusually thin, at its top being about six inches thick, rather reminiscent of a tombstone. As the last rays of the sunset waned I carried on photographing using flash. It hadn't images here, deserved to.. and would. I gave a pat and made to go, and then a thought struck me: was its orientation significant, a pointer? Aligning my eyes at either end of its top in turn I found that one pointed to the summit of Inchmulloch Hill to the southwest, while the other seemed to point to the highest point of the Mull of Sinniness on the other side of Luce Bay. Coincidence? Returning eventually to the field entrance in the gloaming I couldn't help investigating that gorsey mound.. I groped my scratchy way to its summit. A perfect cone. Animal disturbance revealed that it seemed not to be composed of field clearance material but finer stuff. A cairn, I'll be bound. A stream flows gently by the base of its southerly side to meet the shores of beautiful Luce Bay. A fine place for a final rest. A migrating corncrake flew over, calling in the dark. I descended carefully, walked back to the car as a golden near full moon rose over Whithorn and the water and drove off slowly to my campsite. It had been a good day. Posted by spencer
12th October 2015ce

Low Curghie (Standing Stone / Menhir)

It is a wonder that this stone has not toppled, and I would be very surprised if it has not done so within the next ten years. Parking on the verge a short distance along the minor road that leads to Low Clanyard after it leaves the A716, adjacent to a solitary static caravan to the rear of the corner house I found a broad holloway - perhaps indicative of a former sizeable human presence - with a disused farm track in its middle that climbed up onto the pastureland that overlooks Luce Bay, and the stone came into view on ascent as the holloway opened out at its crest. Although the stone, some five feet in height, looked in good order as I approached, the side view of it told a different story, as it is leaning southward at an angle of approximately sixty degrees, and I am totally convinced that but for some chocking stones on that southward side it would have gone already. The culprits are undoubtedly cattle, as its packing stones are exposed and its corners blackened by the grease from their rubbing. The stone is top heavy and seems to be tapering to a point at its lower end, and I doubt if that is now embedded by more than a foot. I gave it a gentle pat, but fear its standing years are very nearly over. Images to follow. Posted by spencer
12th October 2015ce

Whirlpool (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Like CARL, I failed to find this despite a prolonged search. I do wonder if the position indicated on the OS map is entirely accurate, as subsequently I found one or two instances where this seemed to be the case, eg Low Curghie. What I did find, though, were four very large stones set vertically at regular intervals set into the wall of the field below that where the wind turbines are. They seemed very out of place compared to all the other stonework, and I wonder if they were there as a consequence of a site being tidied away. I did not think that they included a recent addition to their number. They were not visible from the minor road that leads to Whirlpool, being on the far side of the first brow, but should be visible with binoculars from the road that leads to Clachanmore and Ardwell. I regret not having a look in the top 'turbine' field, but the increasing interest of cattle made me decide it was best to withdraw. I hope to have another crack next only failure to find a site out of the thirty or so visited in western Galloway in October 2015. Hi ho.. Posted by spencer
12th October 2015ce
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