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Law Head (Cairn(s))

Head north on the B9130, from Markinch, and take the first minor road east which leads straight to Markinch cemetery.

The cairn is situated in the cemetery on its southern side. Trees, reported in 1955, have gone and the cairn now rests (it is a graveyard) beneath a well looked after green turf. It still sits at about 20 meters wide and is 1 meter high. Nearby is Balgonie Castle which is well worth a look and to the west The Lomonds are clearly visible.

Visited 30/12/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2016ce

Newton Of Balbirnie (Hillfort)

Excavations took place on the small hill at Newton Of Balbirnie during 2009 and an Iron Age fort was discovered as part of the Markinch Heritage digs.

Luckily, for me, I met the farmer at Newton who described the digs in detail. Various ditches, ramparts and entrances had been found. He also added that after ploughing he'd contact members of the group so that they could look for artefacts that may have been ploughed up. Several finds have been recorded thanks to this, some from World War 2 also.

From the circle at Balbirnie head back up to minor road and follow this as it heads south east. Newton Of Balbirnie can be found on the first minor road that heads east.

Good to learn that some people are genuinely interested in what's on their land. All good stuff!!

Visited 30/12/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2016ce

Balbirnie (Stone Circle)

Heading south on the A92 take the first minor road east south of the B969 junction. Take the first street south, called Tofthill, and at the first corner the circle can be found.

After wondering what it would have looked like in its original position I think this is a wonderful reconstruction and along with the nearby henge at Balfarg is a fantastic introduction to prehistory.

Glenrothes might be described as a new town but its fairly obvious that a settlement has been here for a long long time.

Visited 30/12/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2016ce

Strathendry (Standing Stone / Menhir)

As Mr Brand says, this is a dangerous site to take photographs as drivers seem intent in breaking all sorts of speed records on the A911 east of Leslie. To north east and west both Lomonds can be seen from the standing stone. Nearby, to the east, once stood the Gallant Knowe rumoured to be a Four Poster stone circle. Strathendry could be the sole survivor from that site.

Still this stone remains perched on the bank on the south side of the road standing at over 1.5 meters in height. Park at the house just to the east of the site.

Visited 30/12/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2016ce

Pitcairn (Cairn(s))

This is a difficult place to find thanks to the maze of roads to get there but here goes. From Cadham Road look for Huntsman's Road (which heads east), then head north on Pitcoudie Road (which swings east), then look for Harris Way, (which heads north east) and at last find Sandray Place. At the end of Sandray Place the road stops and becomes a track heading into woods. After a few meters heading east look north, up the hill, and the cairn can be seen.

Pitcairn is was originally oval shaped and stood at 30 by 22 meters. It now stands at almost 3 meters in height. Unfortunately it has taken a battering, been houked and has had a dyke built through the east side. Nothing remains of the wall that once surrounded the monument. On the plus side it still remains, despite one report that it had been ploughed out, looking impressive amongst the winter trees despite the house being only a few meters to west. Houking has shown how the cairn was constructed. As well as larger stones, smaller stones can be seen amongst the earth. Urns in excavations have also been found.

This once had been an impressive site, it still is, and it appears that the locals aren't aware of the prehistory on their doorstep.

Visited 30/12/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2016ce

Whitehawk Camp (Causewayed Enclosure)

I was going to post about Whitehawk more than a year ago after I volunteered for the dig which took place there in August 2014. I refrained from doing so at the time as I was supposed to be photographing (for Brighton Museum) the ‘more interesting artefacts’ which they hoped to uncover in the process of the dig. Sadly, despite intensive digging in 3 separate areas on Whitehawk Hill nothing particularly interesting was found. Geo-physics had shown up some anomalies on the Southern side of the hill which the archaeologists hoped might be a fifth outer ring, but this proved to be unfounded. Most of the very small things found were pieces of worked flints (possibly Neolithic), masses of broken glass, the inevitable willow-pattern ceramics shards and miscellaneous bits of ironware which were probably bits of broken gardening tools (most of the hill has been given over to allotments in the past and still is today). I personally found a 1945 farthing which back then would have bought you a whole house in Brighton. The other thing that was found in abundance were pieces of relatively modern cars and scooters which is quite interesting in itself. The practice of sacrificing expensive offerings to the gods on this site was still happening in the here and now, a clearly continuing tradition, except now they like to torch them first rather than burying them or flinging them into a watery place.

As stated in older posts there’s not much to suggest that you’re standing in a Causewayed Enclosure when you’re up there as most of it has been encroached upon by modern progress, allotments and the enlargement of Brighton Race Course, but here and there you’ll notice a slight undulation, a small squeak to remind you of the sheer scale of the site. The positioning of it too, is wonderful and a true focal point, commanding expansive views over the sea and South Downs of which it forms part. The panoramic images posted here were commissioned recently by Brighton Museum for educational purposes to highlight the importance of this truly ancient and wonderful place.
A R Cane Posted by A R Cane
1st January 2016ce

Purin (Hillfort)

On the way up to East Lomond there is a rarely spoken about Iron Age hillfort on the small Purin Hill. Not much remains of the fort except changes of colour in the grass which represent the rampart. In my opinion it would have been quite similar to the nearby Maiden Castle. Luckily for me the farmer at Drums was in the field putting feed down for the sheep and said that he'd found several items including flints, an axe head, bits of pottery and handed them to the people at Falkland Palace. He also mentioned that ploughing churned up lots of stones in a circular shape around the small hill.

On a day of bad flooding for Scotland I somehow managed to tiptoe between the rain storms.

Visited 30/12/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
31st December 2015ce

West Lomond Hill (Cairn(s))

From the Maiden Castle we retraced our steps back to the main track heading west, all except one member of the party who was soon rounded up by the cairn finding dog.

When you get to the bottom of the climb to West Lomond there is a small quarry and two choices of path. One heads straight up and is very steep. The more sensible choice curves round the north and approaches from the north west. Being sensible for a change we chose the second route.

The cairn sits on top of the hill with a trig plonked on top it and has magnificent all round views. Sadly the site has taken an absolute battering and is scattered all over the place, much of the stones being used to make two enclosures or possibly massive wind breaks. However it is easy to imagine what it originally looked like and with the area full of prehistory what a setting.

People who played or have attended the T In The Park festival before its move to Strathallan will recognise the Lomonds as a spectacular backdrop.

To get back to East Lomond follow the path east. No climbing involved as the path leads to the south of the fort near some lime kilns and eventually heads back to the car parks.

Visited 18/10/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
31st December 2015ce

Maiden Castle (Lomonds) (Hillfort)

From East Lomond head west following the path which is fairly steep and worn until it flattens out. After a couple of miles the path meets the minor road at Craigmead (toilets, marker boards etc). Keep heading west keeping an eye on the north looking for a small hill which can be seen after the woods. We headed north leaving the path after passing a small hillock and headed straight for the Maiden Castle, easily spotted thanks to the fantastic ramparts.

Conditions underfoot on the day of this visit were dry but I'd imagine this route would be a bit of a boggy mess after rains/snow.

The rampart is in tremendous condition with clear evidence of stonework beneath the turf. Entrances are easily identified at the east and west ends of the oval fort, with a well preserved causeway at the eastern end. However it remains to seen if this fort was ever completed as the rampart appears to be incomplete at northern and southern ends. Whatever the reason it almost looks as if this was deliberate as the remains are that good. I had a good look round the ramparts twice and from various heights/distances, deciding that whatever its condition it must have been a fort of strategic importance.

From the tops of East and West Lomond the Maiden Castle can be spotted. In my opinion it is a wonderful site and a privilege to have visited it.

Visited 18/10/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th December 2015ce

East Lomond (Cairn(s))

The cairn is situated on top of East Lomond in the middle of the fort. Sadly it looks like it will be trampled flat and vanish in time. Still at the moment it survives and is 13 meters wide, 1 meter tall. Cairn material pokes thru but it has been given a good scattering. For good measure the usual trig has been planted on top.

Visited 18/10/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th December 2015ce

East Lomond (Hillfort)

Travelling south from Dundee on the A92 cut back north westish on the A912 Falkland road (also leads straight to Falkland Palace). Take the first minor road heading west, which is indicated East Lomond viewpoint, and go the end of the road where car parks can be found.

The climb up the east side of East Lomond is quite steep but nothing difficult and leads to the first of the defences. There appears to almost a maze of defences around the fort which on the three other sides is very steep. Various hut circles and enclosures have been found between the ramparts/ditches. This fort was built as the hill dominates the whole area which is stunning in beauty. Nearby cup and ring marked rocks have been taken to the Falkland Palace.

In the middle of the fort there is a cairn and to the west more prehistory.

Visited 18/10/2015.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th December 2015ce

Russel Howe (Cairn(s))

Just north of the Sandwick war memorial take the road going east through the Midstowe and Netherstove. Before reaching Netherstove take the diagonal track up to the minor road and turn right. The Rossel Howe wall is plain to see two fields east of the road. I didn't realise you can walk straight up to it (the fence is practically gone) and so came around the edge ofa field. Looking at the rise atop the hill the cairn sits on I woner if it isn't man-made. At the southern end is a pile of stones that could be the remains of the second cairn, badly robbed for stone. Rossel Howe cairn is a rectangle with well rounded corners, feeling almost oval to me. There is another pile of stones at the other end of the cairn, buth this is obviously leftovers and parts that have come off the wall. The stones are very different from the two slabs, which are mostly white. It doesn't come out well in my photos that the erect slab sticks out from the cairn material at an angle of, say, 45 degrees. It is said the two slabs could have been parts of a cell. But there must have been a reason why they are where they are, and given the angle of the slab it strikes me that whoever built the wall was surely marking for posterity the place where the entrance had been (in which case could it even be in its original position ?). Standing at Rossel Howe there is a grand view almost the whole way around, and the mound is easily seen coming up to Skail. Indeed, because this day the hill was distinctly multi-coloured I was ablt to see it as I walked several miles towards Twatt and retracing my steps several more going to Stromness. If you wish to avoid the roads the set of tracks going by the site of the 'Snusgar' excavations takes you to the Netherstove farm road. wideford Posted by wideford
28th December 2015ce

Moel y Gaer (Hillfort)

25/12/2015 - Managed a quick bob up Moel y Gaer to see this hillfort on a wet Christmas day. Luckily the rain had stopped for the short time we were there. It's a nice fort and the location and view is very good. Worth a look and not too much climb. thelonious Posted by thelonious
28th December 2015ce

Barbrook II (Stone Circle)

If visiting Barbrook 1 then this is a must....but surely found by anyone following the path from the latter looking at the wealth of cairns on either side. Those who leave the path as I did and do some fieldwalking may well find even more - the odd stone pointing through the turf or not even that, only a faint bump. Just how many are there? Certainly a visit when the bracken is dormant will pay dividends. Anyway, back to the circle: as with the opinion of others, if this is a rebuild then I'm all in favour. Yes, I did prefer it to Barbrook 1. I do not know the extent of the rebuild, but feel that this is a reused structure anyway..not now a stone circle in the conventional sense, but perhaps at was at one time before infilling between regularily spaced larger components, though even these are mostly less than knee high - as per all bar one of this circle's neighbour. These, though, seemed of more regular shape, and, of course, may possibly date in their positioning from the rebuild. Whatever the provenance, come here. Early or late in the day you've a fair chance of solitude. I wandered around alone in the dusk, exploring the neighbouring cairns, looking for more hidden in the heather, the sound of a waterfall on the wind, red grouse and ring ouzel for company. Then, back to Barbrook 1 for some flash photography, darkness shrouding whatever further delights Big Moor holds, thence back to the large layby, now deserted bar my Fiesta, then tagging on to the rear of a caterpillar of red lights that made its way back to Sheffield in the shrouded mist and mizzle. A good antidote to the Christmas 'jollities'. One of those 'aah, needed that' experiences. I understand why those in the past wanted to live there. So much to see with so little legwork. Make the effort spencer Posted by spencer
28th December 2015ce

Barbrook I (Stone Circle)

The number of times I've driven along the A621 over the last twenty years and not known the delights of the moor alongside...coming from Sheffield you'll see Minninglow on the horizon, so near yet so far. There are laybys either side of the road, well used at the weekend, even when the weather is pretty foul, like it was when, finally, after looking at the OS, I decided this would be the destination for much needed post-Christmas solo perambulation and stone therapy. I'd no idea that there was a stone circle so close to home. Through the fresh painted white gate, late in the day, passing a few groups of people making their way homeward in the mizzle. I was the last outward bounder, had the muddy track to myself after a few minutes. As per the increasingly damp map, there was the circle, or at least the tallest stone, visible up the slope to my right, with path leading to it. I became aware that the entire area was covered with cairns..what a place. At the circle the tallest stones current offerings were a trio of spent shotgun cartridges, while a neighbour sported a plastic reindeer. This wasn't the Nine Ladies.. though the path indicated plenty of visitors none wanted to paint or carve. Plastic reindeer welcome. The very modest size of the stones mattered not. A fine setting, and so many other sites, recorded or not, within sight and under foot. Try visiting before the bracken and grass grows - so much more visible in the bleak months. Has the vicinity really, really been properly fieldwalked? Be sure to visit Barbrook 2 close by, and wander round the other cairns, and, if time, explore further. 'Sites within 20km' above reveals more a few minutes walk away, but fading light precluded that for me, but if there was nothing else apart from this circle I'd still want want to return, and will. My jobs are only a few minutes away, and on summers evenings what a place to wind down afterwards. I WILL be back. Recommended. spencer Posted by spencer
27th December 2015ce

Fort Point (Promontory Fort)

Well..this was an adventure. Prompted by studying OS Landranger 82 I thought it worth a mooch, which in the end proved more of an endurance test. However, no regrets. A 7.5 or 8/10 site certainly as far as ambience.....Turning off the B738 I drove seaward down the sweet rough road to Meikle Galdenoch with its indicated car park. OK, outside the scope of this forum, but I defy anyone not to fail to admire and photograph the adjacent castle. Small, yes, character huge. Anyway, back to subject. Point number one: the map is wrong. There's clearly never been a way to the coast that starts as indicated. The true course starts on the other side of a farmyard with buildings either side. Understandably the farmer would appear not to want casual visitors venturing here, and there is a footpath sign pointing in the opposite direction. Dutifully I followed the track indicated for a short distance till a gate blocked the path. On the other side: cattle. Lots of them. Fortunately there was another gate to an adjoining field of stubble separated by a wire fence, so, over that, and following a parallel course towards where the footpath was indicated on the map. This was doubly a good move, as a fine bull made its presence known. The footpath came into view.. it was in fact a fenced unmetalled track. Once again, though, when I got to the nearest fence progress along it was barred by the presence of aforementioned bovines the other side of a gate across the track. Fortunately though, there was an identical means of avoidance and further progress in the form of another gate on the opposite side of the track with pasture beyond, once again separated from the stock by a wire fence. Same procedure as before, follow the fence westward till the field's end. Entering the cattle's field was unavoidable, but only briefly. Over a gate, then over another adjoining one which crossed the track. Metal between me and the bull and harem and, finally, progress as the map indicated. Phew, about time. I walked along the track with a forestry plantation to my right, shortly found a small quarry with forlorn abandoned digger, and then skirted a small loch with an unusual octagonal wooden building landward and small jetty with chairs on opposite. The farmer's place to chill, doubtless. Onward seaward... and damn. The track curved round northwards, while the map indicated the footpath I wanted headed due west, through a gate to another field of pasture. There: more cows, another bull. Yup, more swearing. Bugger was justified. I followed the track hoping for another way. On my seaward side - this now in view and an incentive that my goal wasn't too far away - was an unfenced area of uprooted gorse and sedge. It looked a bit of a obstacle course, so I didn't attempt to cross despite the sea and a possible clifftop route being beyond and continued along the track, realising that as I did so I was walking away from my target. After a few minutes I gave in and headed towards the sea, over a barbed wire fence and turned south along the clifftop. Fine views and geology, yes, way to the fort, no. An unclimbable deer fence, which in any rate had a sheer drop feet from the other side. I climbed over the adjoining barbed wire fence into the uprooted gorse as a shortcut back to the track. I'd given up, wanted out, knew there were other sites nearby. I followed the deer fence uphill towards the track. After a bit the deer fence stopped and headed at right angles south. A normal sized wire fence replaced it. Lo and behold, there was a little stile. If ever there was a morale booster. Over that, enthusiasm returned, as I was heading where I wanted to go. I followed the deer fence southward along the edge of a field of barley. Then more cattle came in sight on the fence's seaward side. Deer obviously a past enterprise. They saw me, and all ambled unhurriedly away. I became emboldened, and carried on despite seeing that my way was blocked at the far end of the field by another fence. Over that, I could see from the map, should be the footpath. All the cattle walked slowly past me and headed off uphill inland when I got to the fence. It felt like a miracle, a reward for perseverance. I was surely only a few hundred yards from my destination, still out of sight, tantalising. I hoped it would be worth it. After making sure the cattle were all well out of the way I climbed over the fence, footpath rejoined. Seaward it became undefined, but I could tell from the map it followed the top of a bluff. The shore came into view, and then.....the remains of the fort. No mirage. Most importantly, not a disappointment. Canmore does a far better job of describing it than myself. Yes, greatly robbed for other buildings associated with salt manufacture and farming, themselves now gone, but the fort's foundations remain, a bleached white ghost. It had obviously been a fair size. I paced it out, but forgot the dimensions subsequently. Iirc approximately thirty five paces east to west. My photo's should give the gist. Despite its depleted state it was the best preserved site I'd found thus far on my D&G wanderings. I liked it there, and the view down the coast was another attraction. Kemp's Wark at Broadsea Bay and Killantringan's dun were both in sight - see photo. The latter was my next planned destination, so after a good potter it was time to retrace my steps. No cattle in sight, thankfully. Over the fence, back along the edge of the barley field to the stile and then, this time, uphill through that uprooted gorse and high sedge wilderness. Others may prefer to hug the barleyfield's fence when toing and froing from the stile should bovines demand but the going wasn't too bad. Anyway, you never know what lies hidden by gorse.. our forebears appreciated its defensive merits while we today curse it. I beg to differ. Two roe deer jumped up, alarmed, and I watched their white rumps bounce away with greater agility than mine. After a ten minute yomp the track was regained, and from then on the return was simple and stress free. I knew what I was doing, where I was going. how long it would take. It was a fine blue sky evening. I photographed a raven and buzzard hunting in tandem, soaring over the stubble. A steady plod saw me back at the car, with a sense of fulfillment. The stubborn head had won and been rrewarded. Definitely a place to return to. During the summer and autumn months it's bound to be lucky dip as to which field has stock, but winter and up to mid spring should see the stock indoors and a clear run. Yes, worth the effort, and you're very unlikely to see another soul if solitude appeals, as it does to me. Back at my campsite the owner, a long time resident, said she'd never made it down and she didn't know anyone who had. I have, and am far from superhuman. I hope the directions herewith in the event of bovine presence will encourage others. spencer Posted by spencer
25th December 2015ce

Mull of Galloway (Cairn(s))

This is my most visited site..a dozen times or more. I love it here, standing on top, looking across to the Isle of Man, the Lake District, Whithorn, Snowdon on a very clear day, and the Irish coast...... watching the birdlife, the resident roe deer, the seething high tide, and, after dark, the beam of the adjacent lighthouse sweeping overhead. To find, just drive south from Stranraer till the road ends. Half an hour non stop, but see how many times you stop en route for scenery and sites, not least the superb triple banked linear earthwork, increasingly believed to be Iron Age, that you pass through near your destination. Park in the car park north of the lighthouse, visit Gallie Craig, the great eatery - with loos - cum travel centre and emporium, walk towards the light. The cairn is on the skyline, left, as you approach. As Canmore - ID 61039 - describes, it's been knocked about a bit. Until recently there was a flagpole atop. Two watertanks have been incised into its western side. This site is symbolic, and deserves an entry in TMA for this if no other reason. Like so much of Scotland's ancient archaeology, degraded by the millennia and man, but still a prescence, battered but unbowed. It is the country's most southern site. 'Just' a cairn... but a nation's archaeology starts - or ends - here. spencer Posted by spencer
13th December 2015ce

Machrie Moor

Visited 7th August 2015

Machrie Moor is nothing less than one of the megalithic marvels of Britain. Within the protective embrace of the surrounding hills the moorland harbours a wealth of fine stones, and the whole area is like some sort of pre-history park.

It almost resembles a showroom for the types of megalithic monument seen across the land. Walking over the moor I can almost hear the monologue of a Neolithic salesman;
“Ooh looking for the latest in contemporary design, well just step this way! Now here we have your traditional style stone ring, very popular nowadays, and room for conversion if you fancy an en -suite burial cairn, whilst just along here we have the more chunky boulder-style of circle with interior ring, very handy for resting your cauldron in if you’re of the giant persuasion. If sir is on a modest budget let me show you the four-poster, compact and suitable for all ritual needs, or if you really want to make an impression how about using some really tall stones…” the scope and type of monuments you will see here is unprecedented.

As with all moorlands things can get a little bleak in poor weather but today we are blessed with bright sunshine and the rain which has plagued us throughout a week in Dumfriesshire has blown itself away. There is still evidence of the recent wet weather though, as Carl mentioned in the previous fieldnotes one of the circles has temporarily turned into a marsh, although this only seemed to add to its magical atmosphere, the deep spiky green grass poking through the water providing ample perches for dragonflies, which continually buzzed around us during our visit.

The good weather has brought out the visitors and a steady stream of walkers cross the moor, the little car park at the start of the walk filled to capacity, but there’s plenty here for everyone, and some solitude to be found if you want it.

There’s not much more I can add to Carl’s excellent previous fieldnotes, funny to think he was here only the week before!

Soaking up the wonderful megalithic atmosphere of the moor, the blue sea shimmering behind us in the distance, time slips by quickly, and like a fine malt whisky Machrie Moor needs to be savoured and so we’ve elected to spend most of our day on Arran here, despite the wealth of other lovely megalithic sites in the area.

When I first visited here fifteen years ago I was totally blown away, it was the first really ‘premier league’ site I made a pilgrimage to after getting Mr Cope’s big orange book, and further opened my eyes to the prehistoric wonders that were out there. I still feel the same being here today as I did then, this really is somewhere very special indeed. Until next time Machrie Moor…
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
9th December 2015ce

Slockmill Enclosure

On my walk from Slochmill to Crammag Head to inspect the dun at the latter, indicated by the OS map, I encountered a fine turf covered Galloway dyke en route. As I know such features can be of great antiquity and as it was curved, starting from the clifftop south of Crammag Head and ending near the clifftop on the Head's northern side, and also as it had what may be a ditch, I was tempted to submit it to TMA as a dyke. What has made me change my mind and classify this site as an enclosure was what appears to be revealed by the aerial photograph that I found online after returning home, which is accessed via a link, below, to these fieldnotes. I advise making a paper copy of this image. At the time I did not notice anything unusual as I passed through the northernmost of the three entrances through the dyke - the middle one being the largest and roughly knocked through perhaps to gain access when the lighthouse at Crammag Head was constructed. The long grass was bumpy in places, but I thought nothing of it. Finding the photo changed all that. If studied carefully there would appear to be well over a dozen circular features of varying size which may be hut circles or the remains of their drip trenches. These are most heavily concentrated at the mid point of the dyke and away from the cliff edge. Only excavation for want of a better aerial image would confirm this. Note how, on the left hand side of the image, the dyke ends where it reaches the Mulrea Burn a short distance before the latter commences its steep descent to the sea, thus providing a point where water could be obtained by man or beast within the bounds of the dyke, and also note the southernmost or right hand entrance through the dyke near the coastguard lookout station, and the staight path or causeway running from this entrance - or exit - to the stone circle, visible as grey - white dots, which is the subject of separate TMA fieldnotes - via the 'sites within 20km' facility at the top left of this page. From what I have read subsequently hut circle size increased towards the end of the Bronze Age, so, if the circular features are of this origin, the image may be an indication of sustained occupancy of the site commencing at an earlier date. Another image of the enclosure showing the circular features on the seaward side of the dyke is attached as a link to my fieldnotes for the TMA entry for Crammag Head's dun.. once again, accessed via the 'sites within 20km' facility herewith. Date of visit 3rd October 2015. spencer Posted by spencer
23rd November 2015ce
Edited 21st December 2015ce

Slockmill Fort (Hillfort)

Having visited Crammag Head's dun and then found what may be either a stone circle or setting while fieldwalking inland I started to head back to my car at Slockmill. Within a hundred feet of leaving the circle I realised I was walking upon the upper rampart of three of what I assume is a hillfort. These encircle a raised outcrop covered in gorse, and are for the most part are obscured by this. The three tiers of ramparts of the length that I was able to fieldwalk are connected not by ditches but by level terraces. I had found another example of a level terrace on the southerly side of the promontory fort up the coast, Kemp's Wark. It is possible, though, that any ditches had infilled over time or that this is an incomplete structure - one image herewith showing what look like ramps between the tiers perhaps supports this. Ramparts may perhaps have been thought unnecessary on the western side owing to the presence there of a high stone outcrop. There is another example of a triple-tiered fort nearby, believed Iron Age, at nearby Kirkmaiden, called Core Hill. The stucture of the latter has been badly damaged, but the triple arrangement is discernible through stock erosion on its eastern side leading to the exposure of three bands of fine rocky material. Another example of a triple arrangement may be found down the coast at the southernmost of the Mull of Galloway earthworks, increasingly believed of Iron Age origin. Based on these similarities I am tentatively dating this site to the Iron Age also. An image of the eastern side of the fort showing the line of the ramparts also herewith. I did not attempt a full circumnavigation and fieldwalk due to my injured leg, but am reasonably confident that the large gorsey outcrop is almost completely encircled by earthworks after subsequently finding a photograph taken from the south from the much higher cliff fort at Dunman, which I have placed as a separate link, below, to these fieldnotes. The presence of only a single rampart in the vicinity of Slockmill stone circle - or setting - may be due to this western area being the entrance to the fort. NB, I named this site Slockmill fort after failing to find any reference to it on the internet, including Canmore, in order to distinguish it from the dun at Crammag Head, which some believe to be a fort also due to site reuse. It therefore seemed correct to ascribe the name Slochmill to the stone circle at Slochmill fort's western base, and, due to aerial photographic evidence - see the entries for the stone circle and Crammag Head dun for links - showing a direct pathway or causeway and entrance connecting the stone circle to the circular features, possibly hut circles, within the neighbouring enclosure bounded by the dyke, name this feature similarily too. The name Crammag is not, apparently, known locally in any case. Should these sites already be known and named so be it. An aerial image showing the fort and its position relative to the enclosure and stone circle can be found as a link from my TMA fieldnotes for both - accessed by clicking on the 'sites within 20km' feature at the top of this page - in addition to the image linked to my entry for Crammag Head. Date of visit 3rd October 2015. spencer Posted by spencer
23rd November 2015ce
Edited 21st December 2015ce

Slockmill (Stone Circle)

I had visited Crammag Head to explore and photograph the dun there, and had on my way found a long, crescent shaped turf covered Galloway dyke of obvious antiquity. This and the intriguing gorse covered outcrop nearby prompted me to do some fieldwalking subsequently. After first inspecting the adjacent abandoned coastguard lookout station I then noticed nearby a small exit through the dyke which on close inspection, looked an original feature. Passing through this I made my way up the sloping terrain towards the outcrop and then climbed it as best I could. Part of its summit and surrounds were covered by gorse of sufficient density to deter further exploration, and I therefore descended, but by a slightly different route. Walking southwestwards towards a field fence to get a photograph of nearby Dunman with its sensationally sited summit cliff fort I then found at my feet something that I had never encountered before.... poking through the turf by only an inch or two was an arc of four or five flat topped stones which were equally spaced to what seemed geometric precision. I then became aware that this arc was part of a circle as other stones were exposed in places, and little mounds indicated that more probably remained in situ just under the turf. I then realised that other exposed stones outside of this ring were part of another, surrounding circle, and that further exposed stones without the latter ring indicated yet another, larger surrounding circle. What I had found was tri-concentric. I stepped from stone to stone round the initial, inner ring that I had encountered, and found that by stamping my feet as I did so that indeed most if not all of its non-visible components remained in situ hidden under the turf. Maintaining an equal pace proved that all components were evenly spaced. A megalithic yard? My estimate is that this inner ring comprises fifteen or sixteen stones, giving an approximate circumference of the ring of 45'. The distance between this inner ring and the middle ring of stones and the latter and outer ring was approximately five feet in both cases. I did not do a test walk round the circumference of the outer rings, but I could see from such exposed stones as there were that, once again, they had been placed with geometric precision, but did not establish if there was a radial linkage with the inner ring. I photographed - in retrospect not nearly enough - trying to absorb this phenomenon. Initially I thought that it was the degraded remains of a cairn, but then discounted this as there was no evidence of spoil in the surrounding area, and also the inner ring, being on a slight dome, should have had most damage, whereas in fact it seemed the most visibly complete. One of my photographs suggests faint traces of shallow ditches between each ring, not noticed at the time. Photography using a drone overhead may reveal the true nature of this site much better than I was able to. The best definition I can think of for it is a tri-concentric stone setting - it doesn't fit the conventional notion of a stone circle, even though it is circular with stone components. None of the proscribed TMA definitions when adding sites to the database are really appropriate, so this site is a circle by default...the most accurate description from those available. This site is an enigma......sacred, ceremonial or astrological function I know not. It may even be unique. I hope that other more experienced and learned minds will be interested enough to want to discover which. In view of their proximity there may be comparable sites in Ireland or the Isle of Man... but from what reading I've done there's nothing comparable recorded on the latter. What I do know though, through subsequent discovery of online aerial images - see link below - is that there is a direct physical connection to the Galloway dyke and the enclosed land beyond in the form of a straight path or causeway of which some stones appear to be visible, leading from the gap in the dyke that I had come through straight towards the centre of the site. This path or causeway appears to have faint traces of a ditch at either side from dyke to circle and that these ditches appear to surround the outer ring of stones and meet each other thus enclosing the entire site. The presence of this causeway would, like the absence of spoil, point towards this site not having been a cairn. On close study of the aerial photograph linked below to these fieldnotes, which is accessed online by clicking on the red 'Photographer's Resource' wording - I advise making a paper copy 'in case' - it is possible to discern well over a dozen circular features of various sizes on the seaward side of the dyke, none of which being apparent as I made my way to my initial destination at Crammag Head. It is feasible that these features are hut circles, or remnants of the drip trenches thereof, and that therefore there may exist here in the hinterland of Crammag Head both the remains of a settlement and a contemporary physically interlinked circular feature of unknown function. I will leave it to others to find out and confirm. It could be that both are related to the earthwork westward, on the landward side of Crammag Head's stone fort or dun. Some authorities appear to believe that the dun is of later date than the earthwork. Of indeterminate date though, is the hill fort, the three ramparts of which I then found poking out of the gorse at the bottom of the NW side of the aforementioned nearby outcrop as I made my way in my already somewhat taken aback state back to my car at Slochmill, for which, like this site and the enclosure there are separate TMA fieldnotes - see the 'sites within 20km link' at the top of this site's webpage. I have checked at length online and there appear to be no records for either circle, settlement nor fort. Quite a day: I would always advocate fieldwalking the vicinity when visiting known sites as you never know what you might find, and remember to look down as well as around - there is a lot more out there.......... NB: As this site is so hard to see till you're on top of it, apart from walking up the causeway feature perhaps the best alternative way to find it is to follow the wire fence that runs from the coastguard lookout near Crammag Head light uphill towards the rocky outcrop. As you approach the latter you will see a metal gate in the fence. When reaching this, head away at right angles a few yards, and you should start to see the stones at your feet. Make what you will of this place.. archaeological investigation is surely metited. Site visited - or discovered? - 3rd October 2015. spencer Posted by spencer
23rd November 2015ce

Crammag Head (Stone Fort / Dun)

I parked opposite the two houses by the entrance to Slochmill Farm, and then made my way to the start of the footpath leading to Crammag Head, as indicated on OS 82. This turned out to be accessed by slipping round the end of an out of kilter iron field gate. Thence the track leads eastward to a rather overengineered bridge crossing the Mulrea Burn composed of two heavy duty concrete slabs, and then becomes undefined thereafter, but follows the course of the burn. This part of the walk was an absolute pleasure, listening to the burbling water, with iris and primroses along its banks, which must be beautiful sight in bloom. I had not done any research of the site beforehand, and had, based on such information I could glean from the map, thought that the dun was on top of the large gorsey outcrop that was ahead of me. It certainly looked a good place for a defensive position, so I headed off the illdefined path towards it. At that point I saw a dogwalker who, when I called over to her for confirmation, pointed me not to the outcrop but over the brow alongside it. As I crested it the top of the lighthouse at the Head came into view. There was still no sign of the dun, but what grabbed my eye was nearer. I had never seen one before, but, having an interest in walling, knew what it was immediately: a turf covered Galloway dyke. Like Cornish hedges and the field boundaries of West Pembrokeshire these can be thousands of years old. It curved round in a crescent from cliff edge to cliff edge, and had what was either a ditch or depression caused by centuries of stock erosion. I could not tell which, but was sure that it's structure and form alone merited mention in TMA as an archaeological feature. Dykes, sacred springs and holloways do, to me, deserve equal note as other archaeological features. There are other things apart from stones, forts and cairns. I was very intrigued and took several shots. Still no dun though. I carried on walking over the verdant and bumpy grass towards the lighthouse. Where was it? Through the gate to the light. There was a cresent shaped degraded rampart encircling the outcrop the light was built on, obviously ancient. Some of its structure was exposed by stock erosion. I photographed away, but was aware that it was not what I had come to see. Where on earth was it? The puzzlement increased. I approached the stubby light on its concrete plinth.....and then became both aghast and incredulous. There, at the western side of the plinth, was a curved foundation structure of large stone blocks. The lighthouse had been built on top of the dun. I expored what remained, then descended some steps to a structure that may once have housed a foghorn. Turning to look southward along the cliffs is an experience I shall not forget. I knew that there was a fort on top of neighbouring Dunman, and had intended to go there. What is in no way possible to glean from the map is just how stunning the sight is that awaits you. I know of no finer setting for a cliff fort than Dunman's. The ramparts are on the skyline, and its westward edge is a drop over four hundred feet to the sea. My superlatives are inadequate. I stood looking for a while, trying to take images that did it justice, then retraced my steps to the gate. A clifftop sheeptrack towards Dunman beckoned. I went some way along, enough to make me pretty sure it went all the way there. My leg injury from broching dictated otherwise. 2016. Please. Back to the gate. Near it was an abandoned two storey lookout station. I climbed up its steps to its viewing platform. How I would love to buy it for a few grand and bodge it into habitability... what a view to Dunman and the light. Dreams... I then descended the steps and decided to do some fieldwalking inland, prompted by finding the dyke and that still intriguing gorsey outcrop. What I found deserves separate mention, suffice to say that a walk across Slockmill's farmland to Crammag Head's dun is a walk through history. Even if there was no archaeology there whatsoever it is still necessary for that view and probable access to Dunman's fort. But there is.... See separate site entries for Slochmill enclosure, stones and hillfort. Canmore ID 60437. Date of visit 3rd October 2015. spencer Posted by spencer
23rd November 2015ce
Edited 30th November 2015ce

Trellyffant (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Just a mile or two west of the better known Llech y Drybedd, Trellyffant is not a middle earth megalithic beast but rather just a muddle of large stones.
I parked the car on the small lane to the chambers east, but it would probably be easier coming from the north after asking at the farm, if it is a farm, it has no living space. Either way it is only a five minute walk.

It was beginning to get dark, and after a long day stone watching this was the last place on my list. It had stopped raining, but low mists still clung to the distant Preseli hills, and the day long mugginess persisted.
But a new site is a new site and I was excited to finally get here, despite the site being more or less a pile of large stones.
The capstone is still held aloft, but is it being held up by the right stones? Two large boulders are still I think in the right place, but the rest is pretty much a confusion.
My camera has had a long day as well, it doesn't like the wet conditions, and it's never liked working in low light, so I put it away, don my cloak of invisibility
and walk back to the car wondering where will my next outing be to, an old favourite?, or a new site, near or far, soon or again far away.
postman Posted by postman
22nd November 2015ce

The Wren's Egg & Nest (Standing Stones)

One of those sites I'd meant to do on my previous visit to this side of Luce Bay in '14 but got tripped up by 'busman's holiday' garden visits. I'd made it to Barsalloch, but not here. So near yet so far. A return to Barsalloch first, a contemplative chill and bask there, then, yes Wren's Egg, I'm on my way. I parked in Monreith and went across the fields to Blairbuy Stones first - see fieldnotes. The Wren's Egg and Nest called me in. Through the open gate with lady at farm's ready approval, then up the slope to the Wren's Egg and attendant smaller stones, sadly unmentioned in the name of this place. Like Barsalloch, I was it seems, having read his notes subsequently, following in CARL's wake. Woof woof, pitter patter, widdle. Same impression as him and Postie. Bloody nice place, especially on this blue sky autumn day. Why, why, why don't more people make it here??? Ffs, latitudinally it and MoG over the other side of lovely Luce Bay are south of Carlisle and Newcastle. The A75's a fine drive, a Euroroute even, and the A747 from Glenluce is even finer. Come. Please. Anyway, rant over. I circled the Egg, then had a look at the two stones, checking the alignments with those at Blairbuy. Snap, snap, snap. Then, as is my wont, off for a fieldwalk. I headed east away down the rise to check on the alignment of the Small Stones - they at least deserve capital letters - with the Egg. Then walked further away towards the the N-S field wall with its belt of trees behind, and farm buildings beyond them. As I approached the wall something in it caught my eye....... TWO ADDITIONAL STONES...... I have walling experience, and looked at what was before me from a structural, non fanciful perspective. I was adamant that the stones in this wall were in situ, but in light of info recieved now accept that they have been probably placed there in more recent times... however they are of the same shape and distance apart as the two by the Egg, and align with it. The wall has been built around them, and at present the ground level on the 'Egg' side means they look very squat, but I am confident that they are of the same size as the Egg's attendants, should a test excavation take place. Further stones from the site, displaced? I stood and looked at them for a bit, and had already decided there was more to this place than met the eye. Back up the slope to Egg and Stones for an alignment double check, then I decided to have a good look, circle and scramble over the oak covered Nest. Exposure by stock of soil and stones on it makes it plain that it is not a natural feature. What it is, pass, but.... not natural. Like the strange gorse covered conical mound by Terally Stone and the identical gorsey conical top to the outlier at Kemp's Walk, I'd love a ground penetrating survey out of curiosity. I carried on round the Nest, circling its perimiter anticlockwise, looking at the bare soil exposures and pretty uniform small rocks within. Under a tree on it's western side between about a third and half way along I found a large stone in the long grass. It had a fine, laminated structure, running from top to bottom. Something caught my eye again.. the light was right. There were about eight lines of long horizontal incisions on the lefthand of its 'field/W' side. Each line had other shorter cutmarks leading off from it, either at right angles or at an angle. Convinced then that this was made by human hand, I now accept Tiompan's judgement that what I had found were ploughmarks. It just goes to show how the inexperienced can be decieved. At the time though I confess I was a bit blown away after finding this stone in addition to the other two. Drumtroddan and more awaited though. My last day. Back to the open gate, and I thought I'd walk along the road back to Monreith. After a few yards walk along it I thought I'd get some more Egg pics and leant against the field wall. I looked over the wall to my right. Two further stones, resting against each other, incorporated in it. On the 'road' side of the wall they don't look much, on the lower, 'field' side they are revealed to be the best part of five feet long. Uprooted Wren's attendants? They are visible in this TMA image: http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/img_fullsize/126593.jpg Look at the left hand edge of the left hand stone, then to the field wall beyond. Two whitish lines therein. Another, possibly, to their left. While stamping back the grass on the road side of the wall to take some pics of the stones, herewith, a couple approached with their dog. She was a local, and had never noticed what I'd found. We had a natter, and I told her the purpose of my trip. She then told me about some carved and cup and ring marked stones locally, "plain to see when I was young, now covered in nettles and brambles". Oh, how I wish I'd had the presence of mind to ask her to point out their location on the map in my hand. I have not checked others Blairbuy fieldnotes yet, but, there may be yet more to find and record around here. I have read on preceeding fieldnotes Julian's assessment of this place as a 'protoneolithic temple'. Too right, Drude, too right. NOW will someone else come? A fine, intriguing and undervisited site. spencer Posted by spencer
19th November 2015ce
Edited 1st December 2015ce

Portobello (Promontory Fort)

This is a site that my visit did not do justice to...one of those victims of my 'it's not dark yet - time to squeeze one more site in' syndrome. I know that I am not alone in this though. It was the end of the first day of my Galloway, and, having first been in birdwatching mode and spent a while on the Scaur on Loch Ryan's Wig Bay watching the oystercatchers and wheeling golden plovers I realised it was high time to start going to sites, the prime reason for my visit. Dunskirloch - Corsewall to the OS - and Dounan Nose were revisited after first being there in 2014, then, as the sun was setting I thought I'd give Portobello a go..it'd been on my hitlist last year but the round tuit intervened. It's not far down the coast from Dounan. Off I went. Down the dead end road, west towards the sea. The road became unmetalled past the last inhabited house, but was 'doable' in my little old Fiesta..only a couple of big watery ruts to carefully negotiate, until the driveable bit ended by a derelict croft on the right hand side. There was ample room to turn round. That'd do. Onward westward on what was now a grassy farm track, until a leaning rusty gate in an extreme state of decrepitude was reached, wire either side, wire supporting. I knew it was permissible to venture further thanks to a list of beaches and directions at my campsite, the excellent North Rhinns Camping near Leswalt (I WILL be back. Second visit in '15). The farmer's cool about visits, and the council are due to put in a new gate. So: don't be deterred. I scrambled round the gate and over its accompanying wire. Straight ahead my goal was visible. No cows. The fort is on a promontory, the southern side of which drops to Portobello beach. I did not find a finer sheltered landing spot on my entire trip. To our forebears this place must have been a 'des res' for that reason. If there was no fort here I'd still say go regardless. Like Dounan, Broadsea Bay (Kemp's Wark), Killantringan (dun) and Ardwell Bay (Doon Castle) it is an excellent site to visit if with family perhaps less enamoured by archaeological sites. Low tide paradises. Back to the purpose in hand. Oh to have read Canmore beforehand. Yes, I 'think' I found it, but the light was fast receeding. I had seen enough to put the place on my 'must return to' list. A good vibe. I attempted a few shots and retraced my steps, meaning to return in the following few days. As I got to the rickety gate a short eared owl flew from an adjacent roofless croft's gable. It was the night of the full Supermoon, which hung over the further croft where my car was parked. More low light blurry clicking. Bye Portobello, I like you. Back tomorrow perhaps, or day after, promise. Sigh. Promise not kept. 2016. Off to Morrisons in Stranraer to stock up on stuff, raid the reduced for quick sales. Then, dammit, footloose, on holiday.. carpark mapread...dammit, I'm off to Knock and Maize for a quick bit of flashing. I blame that full moon. As an update, I've now found that it is permissible to walk south along the coast from Portobello to two further nearby forts at Strool Bay and Juniper Rock, both apparently worth a visit. Can't wait. spencer Posted by spencer
19th November 2015ce
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