The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Clava Cairns — Fieldnotes

Visited 25.7.14

The famous Clave Cairns is a place I had long wanted to visit so it was with more than a little excitement that we followed the sign posts and pulled up in the car park. Despite my prompting Karen decided to stay in the car and keep an eye on the sleeping Sophie whilst myself and Dafydd went exploring.

What amazed me was that despite the weather being fantastic there was no one here – we had the place to ourselves!

We crossed the road, went through the gate and were soon face-to-face with the first of the cairns (the northern one). Each cairn had its own information board. The stones around the cairn reminded me of a mini Ring of Brodger for some reason. The two tall stones at the entrance were most impressive. Dafydd said he could count 25 cup marks on the stone. Who am I to argue?

The second (middle) cairn was very interesting with the stone ‘rows’ radiating out from its centre. What does it all mean? Unfortunately someone had decided to have a BBQ in the centre of the cairn. What is wrong with these people? A very tall standing stone stood nearby.

The third (southern) cairn was similar to its northern counterpart. An impressive circle of tall stones surrounded the cairn (part of which was cut through by the adjacent road). This cairn also has cup and ring marked stones. Close by is a small kerbed cairn with a cup marked stone.

These cairns within its woodland setting is a pure delight and it goes without saying that this is a ‘must see’.

On our way back to the car we met a middle aged couple who had brought dowsing rods with them. I asked them if they would mind if we had a go? They were both very nice and were only too happy to help. The lady explained about dowsing to Dafydd and I told her of my previous experience of dowsing. Dafydd’s rod mainly span around in circles whilst mine (oddly enough) led me into the northern cairn. I beckoned Karen out of the car to have a go – which she did. When Karen took hold of her rod it led her from tree to tree, completely ignoring any of the stones – I am sure that says something! As we were leaving a mini bus arrived and several people got out. They seemed intrigued by the dowsing rods and were soon having a go themselves! (the lady had gone back to her car and brought out several more rods from her boot)

My expectation level for the Clava Cairns was high as I had previously read so much about them.
I am pleased to report that I was not disappointed. This is a great (and very easy) site to visit and should be on everyone’s ‘must see’ list.

Mains of Clava SW (Ring Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 25.7.14

Completely ruined. Now no more than a grass covered mound of stones in the field opposite the car park.

Don’t bother.

Lower Camster (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

About 1 mile further north of the famous Grey Cairns of Camster.
Just keep heading up the road and you will see the standing stones on your right.

My O/S map shows three standing stones but I could only spot 2 of them amid the tall spiky grass – both of which are visible from the road although not obvious.

The adjacent wind turbines dominate the area.

Whilst searching around for the ‘missing’ stone I was constantly surrounded by a mass of flies. Perhaps they were after the salt in my sweat on this hot, sticky day. Or perhaps I just smelt!

I was planning on having a look at the nearby broch but unfortunately ran out of time.

CANMORE state:
‘Three small stone slabs stand in heather moorland immediately E of the minor road from Watten to Lybster. The southernmost stands immediately E of the road and measures 0.8m in height by 0.22m in thickness – there is an O/S bench-mark on its SSE face. The second stone, which also stands immediately E of the road, measures 0.5m in height and 0.4m in thickness. The northernmost stone measures 0.8m in height by 0.25m in thickness’.

Corrimony (Clava Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 22.7.14

Sign posted off the A831 – Historic Scotland site

We had been very fortunate with the weather with day after day of blue skies and the odd white fluffy cloud. However, today it was too hot – that’s something that doesn’t happen very often in Scotland! We had spent the afternoon at Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness but had to come away as it was so hot the children (and us) were starting to suffer.

We made our way to Corrimony with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. Sophie was complaining that she wasn’t feeling well and we had to stop a couple of times. It was a fair drive from Loch Ness but we eventually arrived at the designated car park.

Myself and Dafydd took the short walk to the site whilst Karen stayed with Sophie who was still not very well. As you would expect there were many, many people at the Historic Scotland ‘cash cow’ that is Urquhart Castle and yet at this Historic Scotland site we were the only visitors!

The cairn is in a very peaceful spot and we counted 12 stones – 2 of which are split and 1 now only a stump. We also counted over 20 cup marks on the cap stone although the bright glare of the sun was far from ideal.

After we had been there for a while another couple arrived. I decided it was their turn to have the place to themselves. I was planning on walking to Mony’s Stone but Sophie was still poorly (I think she was suffering from heat stroke) and it was way too hot to expect her to wait for me in the car – so I decided to give it a miss. Perhaps next time?

This is a great place to come and I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Grey Cairns of Camster (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

5m north of Lybster on the A9 – sign posted. Historic Scotland site.

The road taking you from the A9 to Camster is a bit like ‘the road to nowhere’.
This is certainly a remote area but, of course, that’s what gives it its charm. It was no surprise that we didn’t pass a single person or vehicle on the way to the cairns.

The grey stones of the cairns stand out against the green grass and their bulk is easily seen from the road (on the left) – you would have trouble not spotting them!

Upon parking Sophie and Dafydd excitedly put on their head lights and we walked out across the wooden board walk towards the first cairn – the one on the left. When we arrived at the cairn the metal gate at the entrance was closed but thankfully not locked. Sophie insisted on taking the lead and Dafydd followed her. I took up the rear. Although the children found no trouble in accessing the chamber I found ‘waddling’ a bit of a struggle – I must be getting old!

We then continued along the boardwalk to the larger cairn which has two low and narrow entrance passages. This is the cairn which also has the reconstructed horned forecourt – which is rather splendid. I must admit that I also found it far from easy ‘waddling’ along these passages but with Sophie’s ‘help’ I eventually managed it. It would probably have been much easier to have simply crawled along the passage ways but that would have been a rather muddy experience!

As with all intact burial chambers (and caves for that matter) once inside and sat in quiet isolation the place takes on a ‘timeless’ characteristic. Time seems to stop.

These are cracking site to visit and comes highly recommended. The highest compliment I can give the cairns is that it wouldn’t look out of place in Orkney.

This is a ‘must see’ if you find yourself in the far north east of Scotland.

Achcheargary (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

Immediately south of the Dalmor cairns on the B871

The weather was glorious and after pulling over onto the grass verge I hopped over the metal field gate and headed towards the chambered cairn. A farmer was in the next field harvesting his crop and he didn’t seem concerned about me being there.

Despite being in the far north of Scotland with its miles upon miles of bleak (in a nice sort of way) moorland this glen is surprisingly well cultivated.

Although ruined, the cairn still has two stones stood upright and a 3rd stone laying flat on the ground. There are many stones sticking out of the grass.

This is a lovely spot for a cairn, overlooking a bend in the river Naver.

When I got back to the car Karen was looking through my binoculars and pointing. There, on a nearby telegraph pole was a large eagle. Wow, what a sight! You just have to love Scotland.

If you are in the area checking out the many prehistoric sites along the B871 / parallel minor road then you could do worse than to visit this one. Not a huge amount to see but the setting s delightful.

CANMORE state:
‘A natural knoll which has been enhanced to form a central cairn, identified by a scattering of stones over an area with a diameter of 24m. Three large flat elongated stone slabs provide evidence of a chamber’

Achargary (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

Immediately south of Achcheargary chambered cairn on the B871 - off the A836 near Bettyhill.

Not sure if I spotted these cairns or not?
The area is 'lumpy bumpy' rough grass with a couple of possible contenders for the cairns seen - although nothing obvious.

CANMORE state:
Cairns 'A' and 'B' are on the old river terrace at the west side of the River Naver.
'A' is completely turf-covered. It is visible as a platform measuring 12.5m NE-SW by 11.5m with a peripheral, ragged ridge of rubble 0.2m high and 1.5m spread.
'B' is a stony mound adopting a level stance and measuring approximately 15.5m diameter; the body content is low and much disturbed. Intruding in the west sector is a circular depression.
Revised at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J M) 25 June 1977.

NC 7198 5489 Circular enclosure/?cairn A (NC75SW 2). The middle of the three 'cairns' already recorded, this feature comprises a circular earth bank, 1m wide and variable in height from 0.1-0.3m, enclosing an area with an internal diameter of 9m. There may be an entrance in the SE.
Full report deposited in Highland SMR
Sponsor: NOSAS
M Marshall 2002

Dalmor (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

About 2 miles south of the A836 on the western side of the B871

Couldn’t see a thing. The whole area was covered in chest high ferns.
Only chance of spotting this is to come in the winter.

CANMORE state:
Two heavily-robbed cairns with short cists.
'A' is 13m in diameter and 1m high with a central cists complete with coverstone, and about 3m to the north, a cavity which suggests the former existence of a second cist. In February 1938 the cairn was being used as a quarry for road metal, and in subsequent sifting of the material which had been thrown out, most of a jet necklace and a jet button were recovered, and are now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland [NMAS]. (Acc No. FN 176).
'B' has measured 13.4.m in diameter but its southern segment has been entirely destroyed. A single slab on edge near the centre denotes the position of a probable cist. 1960

Skelpick Long (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

Just north of Skelpick, off the A836 at Bettyhill.
Along the same road but further south of Achcoillenaborgie broch.

I found this site to be more difficult than I was expecting. Firstly, you cannot see the chamber from the road. We pulled over at approximately the right place on the map and I headed east.

After crossing the barbed wire fence I had to weave my way through chest high ferns and gorse. Despite the (almost) tropical weather the ground was very bogy. It must be very wet in ‘normal’ Scottish summer weather!

I eventually located the river / bridge and then had to cross a second barbed wire fence.
In reality it is only a 10 minute walk from the road but it’s not an easy 10 minute walk – at least not the way I went!

The inside of chamber was completely overgrown, to the extent that it was difficult to climb inside. There was no chance of crawling under the remaining capstone.

It is obvious that this site receives few visitors – which is hardly surprising. In my humble opinion I would say you would be better off visiting Coille Na Borgie as not only is it much easier to access but it is also in better condition.

Auchinlochy (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

Immediately south (but on the other side of the road) of Achcoillenaborgie broch.

Although close to the road this cairn was difficult to access. I had to make my way through chest high ferns and over a barbed wire fence.

There are many stones sticking out of the grass and fern covered mound.
Not much else I can add really.

The cairn occupies a prominent position in the glen.

CANMORE state:
‘A prominent turf-covered cairn on the summit of a ridge, measuring 11m in diameter and 1.2m high’

Achcoillenaborgie (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

About 1km down a minor road off the A836 (signposted Skelpick)
A short distance south of Bettyhill.

There is a small parking area and an information board and a sign proclaiming this to be site ‘Strathnaver Trail 11’.
(Well done to whoever set up this trail)

A ‘path’ has been cut through the ferns and a short walk will soon bring you out to a large pile of stones which is all that remains of this ruined broch. Much of the mound of stones is covered by fern. I couldn’t make out any of the details described by the CANMORE report.

The broch is in a prominent position and affords good views along the glen.

Worth a look when visiting the (better) chambered cairns which run along the road.

CANMORE state:
The remains of a broch, set on a low knoll. The north section is severely denuded and the entrance passage is not visible although the chamber survives. In the northern arc are traces of a dry stone chamber, partly built into the broch wall. To the SW lies a circular rubble-walled enclosure, 7.2m in diameter with no visible entrance, whose period is uncertain. Remains of a ditch, partly accompanied by an outer bank, curve around the broch on the north and west’.

The Chesters (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 30.7.14

We followed the signs and parked in the small parking area next to the approach road to the farm. A sign states that the parking area closes at 6.30pm in summer and 4.30pm in winter.

The weather was bright although there were dark, threatening rain clouds on the horizon. The children were asleep in the car so I followed the path to the hillfort alone.
The path runs parallel to the farm access road before crossing a small field of cows and the start of the outer ramparts. (200m walk)

The information board states that the hillfort is unexcavated which I found surprising.

There are many stones sticking out of the grass on the ramparts which no doubt is what the banks were originally made up of. The site is large but not huge and it doesn’t take long to walk around the entire perimeter.

There are good coastal views and in the distance Arthur’s Seat can be seen. Nearby Traprain Law stood out like a beacon as it was lit up by the evening sunshine.

On my way back to the car a family arrived with two young children. It is always nice to see children being shown these ancient sites and they will (hopefully) gain a better understanding of their forebears and an appreciation of the importance of these special places.

This is a very easy hillfort to access and is well worth a visit if in the area.
Another Historic Scotland site knocked off the list!

Gansclet (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

From Thrumster on the A99 take the minor road south east towards Sarclet.
The stone can be seen in a field on your right (west).

There is (or at least should) be a convenient ‘path’ between two fields/fences which leads directly from the road to the standing stone. I say ‘should’ as the farmer clearly doesn’t want people using this ‘path’ as he/she has used barbed wire to try to prevent access.
However, this being Scotland with its ‘right to roam’….. although I didn’t hang around long!

The standing stone is a good one; tall, grey stone on a small rise giving wide views across the countryside.

Well worth the short detour off the A99 when in the far north of Scotland. I am surprised no one has posted about this stone before.

CANMORE state:
‘This standing stone is situated on a low rise in area of rough pasture 185m NNW of Acorn Cottage. The stone is a slab of sandstone measuring 1.15m in breadth and stands at least 2.55m in height, though the top of the stone may have been broken off. The stone was broken near its base and re-erected in the late 19thC, being held in place by large slabs which have been driven into the ground at the foot of its E and W faces’.

Coille na Borgie (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

From Bettyhill on the A836 take the minor road south towards Skelpick. The cairn can be seen on the left (east) side of the road after about 1 mile. There is a small parking area with a sign which states ‘Strathnaver Trail 12’ and an adjacent information board.

The information board states that these are two long cairns (between 4,400 and 6,000 years BP) cut through by a cart track. A ‘path’ has been cut through the ferns taking you from the road to the cairns. Dafydd and I opted to go exploring whilst Karen and Sophie were content to watch Peppa Pig on the DVD player!

There is not too much to say about the northern cairn. It has been ruined and now only has one stone standing. The ruined cairn is covered in broken glass, bottles, rubbish and rust pieces of metal. What a shames.

The southern cairn is a different matter altogether – this really is a super site!
Despite being well hidden by chest high ferns, once discovered, it is great place to explore.

There are 5 façade stones still standing – 3 x 1m in height, 1 x 1.5m and 1 x 2m – (covered in ‘hairy lichen’ with a quartz section at the top). There are two cap stones in situ with the chamber open to the sky either side. The chamber is full of tall ferns and I was unable to crawl through the narrow passage which is about 1m high. Under the central capstone is a pair of stones which restrict the width of the passage. A further two ‘narrowing stones’ are located at the end of the passage but has no covering capstone.

I write these notes sat in the end of the chamber, surrounded by ferns and out of the hot glare of the sun. Looking down the passage I can see Dafydd battling away against the ferns!

This is a fantastic site to visit and now with the parking area, information board and path is very easy to access. Despite not being not too far away from the A836 the chambered tomb has a feeling of remoteness about it.
Visit if you can – you won’t be disappointed.

Borrowston (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

On the eastern side of the A99.
A short distance south of Thrumster.

The remains of the broch are easily seen from the road and is only a short walk from the road - through a field of sheep. It is now no more than a large grass covered mound approximately 2m high.

CANMORE state:
The remains of this broch have been reduced to a large grass-grown mound situated at the edge of a cultivated field 240m S of Borrowston farmsteading (ND 3291 4381). The main body of the mound measures 35m in diameter by 2.5m in height, but what is probably the position of the broch is marked by a mound measuring 13.5m from NE to SW by 12m transversely and up to 1.2m in height, which rises from its flat top a little W of its centre. A small, probably modern, pit measuring 1m in diameter and 0.5m in depth, has been dug into the upper mound. What may be the remains of a building are situated immediately to the E of the upper mound, where there is a shallow depression about 8m in length. In a corresponding position immediately to the W of the broch the surface of the mound has been heavily disturbed.
(YARROWS04 688)
Visited by RCAHMS (JRS) 12 August 2004

Cirn of Humster (Broch) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’

Visible from the A99 as a low mound in the middle of a field.

So, is this a broch or a cairn?

CANMORE state:
A grassy mound with a flattish top sloping down towards the E. The mound, 1.9m in maximum height on the SW side, now measures 36m NNW-SSE by 45m transversely, but it was proabably originally circular and about 36m in diameter, the E end having been spread by ploughing. On the W side of the mound are traces of a ditch 13m in width, with a counterscarp 1.0m maximum height. On top of the mound is a small modern cairn. No traces of broch structure were seen.
Revised at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (W D J) 21 April 1963.

The remains of a broch, as described by the previous authorities. The slight rise of the centre of the mound may distinguish the actual broch structure from the assumed encircling secondary structures.
Visited by OS (J B) 1 September 1982.

Evelix (Chambered Cairn) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 24.7.14

Can be seen from the A99 as a large rough grassed over mound - on the edge of Clashmore Wood.

CANMORE state:
(NH 7634 9000) Evelix: Round cairn, Orkney-Cromarty type, possibly with polygonal chamber. The cairn has been almost entirely removed and the E edge has been curtailed by ploughing. Only a slight ridge on the NE edge indicates its probable extent implying a diameter of c. 70ft. The chamber has been built with massive irregular boulders, a number of which remain in situ.
The entrance has been from the ESE. On this side is a pair of stones set 3' 3" apart. Six feet to the W is a pair of side slabs set 4' 4" apart, and beyond this has been a pair of transverse slbas of which only the W stone remains. Beyond these stones there has been a compartment about 7' wide, with N and S stones. Eight feet further west is a group of four lower stones which are difficult to interpret, though they may appear to be arranged in relation to the main axis of the chamber.
If they represent the inner end of the chamber then it has been at the very least 26' long. The W pair of these stones, which have the appearance of being portal or divisional slabs are set at an oblique angle to the main axis of the chamber. The top of the long stone to the SE of them is flush with the turf and may represent a side stone, while the higher eastermost slab, again set an an angle to the axis, suggests the S partner of yet another pair of divisional slabs.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; A S Henshall 1963.

NH 7634 8999 An Orkney-Cromarty chambered cairn as described and planned by Henshall.
Surveyed at 1/2500
Visited by OS (A A) 25 March 1971.

The Pap (Broch) — Miscellaneous

We were staying the night in a B+B on Broadhaven Road and I was looking forward to having a quick look of what remains of this broch.

Unfortunately when we awoke in the morning it was a real ‘pea souper’ due to sea mist and you could only see about 5 yards in any direction. I was hoping that by the time we left it would clear a bit but it wasn’t to be.

I asked the landlord about the site and he said that it was little more than a patch of rough ground with a fence around it. Access to the field is via a metal gate on Broadhaven Road.
Apparently the broch can be seen from his bedroom window – although not today!

I was tempted to go grouping in the fog to look for it but I knew we had a long drive ahead of us and there were many other sites I had on my itinerary today. The B+B was pretty good so perhaps I will get chance to visit when I am next in the area?

Time to visit the Castle of Old Wick (H.S. site) – if I can find it in the fog!

CANMORE state:
A badly mutilated mound of earth and stones some 18m in diameter and 1.3m in height standing on rising ground in the corner of a cultivated field, is all that remains of this broch. The hollowed centre of the mound measures about 13m in diameter. A portion of the outer face of the broch wall, some 0.1m high, can be seen on the NE side.
Various fragments of stone, shells and animal bone found in or near this broch are in Wick Museum, with several photographs of the excavations. Revised at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (W D J) 21 April 1962.

Badly overgrown but part of the outer wall is visible.
C E Batey 1981.

No change to the previous field report.
Visited by OS (J B) 18 August 1982.

Carn Liath (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

Sign posted off the A9.
The broch is to the south of the road. The car park is on the northern side.

Another day, another Historic Scotland site. And long may that continue!

The weather was fantastic again with the sun shining brightly and not a cloud in the sky.
I followed the path from the car park and carefully crossed the busy A9. Once across the road another path leads you to the broch.

A farmer was in the field harvesting his wheat. It was certainly the weather for it.
Access to the broch is via a kissy gate and an information board is provided.

The children were asleep in the car and I therefore had the place to myself. A rare joy!

This is a cracking broch to visit – particularly for mainland Scotland – and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. The broch is fairly well preserved with its guard chambers either side of the entrance. However, the highlight has to be walking up the short section of stairs which remain - a walk into prehistory!
Good coastal views are to be had from the top of the broch.

As I said, this is an excellent site to visit (better than I was expecting) and is a ‘must see’ when in the far north east of Scotland.
Just be careful crossing the road.

Kirklandhill Standing Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 30.7.14

Didn't stop as the field in which the standing stone resides was in crop.

The stone is tall and easy to spot from the adjacent A198.

Post-harvest visit required for a proper look.

East Aquhorthies (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.14

Sign posted from Inverurie.

This site is simply fantastic – one of the finest stone circles I have ever visited.

There is a designated parking area with an information board and a sign which states the circle is 400m away. Myself, Dafydd and Sophie walked up the tarmac path to the circle whilst Karen preferred to stay in the car and read.

The walk is very easy and I was delighted to find we had the circle to ourselves. The rain showers had stopped, the clouds began to break up and the sun was shining brightly – and hot.

I found the (relatively) modern stone wall surrounding the circle only added to the site and certainly wasn’t a distraction for me. The huge recumbent is a sight to behold. I wonder if the two large stones in front of the recumbent were put there to ensure it stays in place?

Dafydd and Sophie amused themselves by sword fighting (plastic swords!) whilst I enjoyed the otherwise peaceful location. There are decent views to be had to the east.

This was one of the highlights of the holiday for me and is now be amongst my favorite stone circles. I was knocked out by this place and we stayed as long as we dare knowing that Karen was waiting for us in the car. This is a place you could easily spend a long time savoring.

If you get the chance I would strongly recommend a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

If that wasn’t enough I also got to knock another H.S. site off the list!

New Craig (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.14

From Loanhead stone circle continue along the minor road north. When you see the circle remains on your right park on the verge. Access to the field is via a metal gate.

The field was full of cows but I walked past them without fuss. At the far end of the field I had to navigate an electric fence which didn’t prove to be too much of a problem.

The recumbent and its flankers have been built into a dry stone wall which has probably saved the circle from total destruction.

This stone circle is intervisible with the one at Loanhead. Both are on high ground.
Why two stone circles so close together? There again, why do we have so many churches so close together?

I am glad I took the trouble to visit New Craig and would recommend you do the same.

Buldoo (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

At Latheron on the A99 take the A9 north. The standing stones are on the rise immediately on your right. One of the stones can be seen from the road when heading towards Latheron.

Time was against us (as ever) and parking on the busy A9 is far from easy although we managed to pull over at a field gate. From here the standing stones can’t be seen so I walked up the field to the higher ground on my right.

As I reached the higher ground the first stone came into view – it is massive!
I assume it was used as some sort of marker for seafarers? It is certainly prominent!

Given the size of both stones I was surprised that I couldn’t see the second stone.
I didn’t have time to get ‘close up and personal’ with the stone I could see so perhaps the second stone is visible from the first? Or perhaps I was looking the wrong way?

Either way, this is a place I would like to re-visit when I have more time. The standing stone I saw is huge and well worth stopping off to see.

Loanhead of Daviot (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.14

Sign posted off the A96

The weather was showery but luckily the rain had stopped as we pulled up outside the Scout Hall. Access to the circle is through a kissing gate and along a short path.

Myself and Dafydd walked up to the circle whilst Karen and Sophie stayed in the car. As we approached we saw an Australian couple who were ‘doing’ Scotland. We said ‘hello’ and exchanged a few words (as you do) and the lady was telling her husband that she could only see two of (the reported) twelve cup marks.
‘Here’s one’ announced Dafydd. He was right, he had spotted another one.
The lady was most impressed. I informed her he has had practice!
Despite our best efforts we couldn’t spot any more. Perhaps the light wasn’t right?

The large recumbent is split along its length. Dafydd was easily able to walk through the cleft.
I have a photo of him stood ‘mid recumbent’ ready to be printed off.

I didn't know about the adult and child cremation cemetery which I read about on the information board.

There are good views over the countryside and needless to say this is a ‘must see’ site if you happen to be in the area.
That’s another H.S. site knocked off the list for me.

As we were leaving I spotted another recumbent and flankers on a rise to the north.
Must go and check that out!

Keoldale (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

On the A838 a short distance north of Cnoc-Na-Cnavan cairn.

Not much to report – a grass covered mound.
A short distance from the road over a low fence

CANMORE state:
‘The remains of a cairn, 12.5m in diameter and 1.2m high, now turf-covered and considerably mutilated’.

Loch Ebriboll (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 23.7.14

On the southern shore of Loch Ebriboll.
Visible from the road.

A low gorse/fern covered mound.
Time constraints prevented a closer look.

CANMORE state:
‘On low-lying ground at the S end of Loch Eriboll, there is a small cairn 9.5m in diameter by 0.7m in height; there are a few stones protruding through the turf and also lying loose on the surface’.

Broomend of Crichie (Henge) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.14

At the southern end of Port Elphinstone – behind the BP petrol station

Today was the first day we had rain. Considering we were now into the second week of our holiday we could have few complaints.

The area in which the henge stands is overgrown and has the appearance of waste ground – although I am sure it isn’t! Access to the field is via a metal gate.

The henge is easy to spot with the bank being between 1m and 2m high from the bottom of the ditch.

The standing stones are between 1.5m and 1.8m high. The Pictish symbol stone has nice markings on it. At least the weather made them easy to see.

It is a pity more is not made of this site. A good hair cut and an information board would go a long way. It doesn’t look like many people come here which is a shame.

Well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

Kyle of Durness (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

Alongside the A838 (east side) overlooking the southern end of the Kyle of Durness.

It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day in this lovely and remote part of Scotland. A cool breeze off the coast was very welcome. The cairn is visible from the road and we pulled over in a parking area near the bridge. Due to the nice weather the ground was dry underfoot but in wet weather it would be very bogy.

The grey stones of the cairn are covered in ‘hairy’ moss – a sure sign of the clean air here. The thick capstone was part covered in stones and ferns were growing out of the cist. The cairn is surrounded by ferns and heather. Evidence of recent peat cutting could be seen.

It is a great spot for a cairn. Mountains to the west and overlooking an unspoilt sandy bay. This is a good place to visit and well worth the walk up from the road. On the way back to the car I spotted Dafydd making his way up the hill. He had woken up and wanted to see the cairn for himself – good lad! As I approached the car Sophie was walking along the road to meet me. Despite it being an A road there wasn’t a car in sight – one of the reasons I love this area so much.

CANMORE state:
At the bottom of the cleared area at the center of the cairn is a cist, 1.2m by 0.6m by 0.5m deep internally with a displaced capstone about 1.2m in diameter and 20cms thick. Two small intrusions have been made on the SE side of the cairn, one of these are base level.
T C Welsh 1972.

A bare stone cairn 16.0m in diameter and 2.0m high, with a central cist as described by Welsh. There are no indications of a retaining circle. The trench round the N half has a well-defined scarp defining the far side and the ends; the near side is partially obscured by tumble off the cairn.
Revised at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J M) 16 November 1978.

Cnoc-Na-Cnavan (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 23.7.14

A short distance north of Sarsgrum Cairn on the A838. Near the car park and sign for the Cape Wrath ferry.

Not much to report – a grass covered mound.

CANMORE state:
‘A cairn evident as a turf-covered mound, approx. 17m in diameter and 1.5m in height, quarried from the N and E. There is no trace of the second cairn noted by Horsburgh, but immediately N of the cairn are traces of a circular enclosure some 19m in diameter, mutilated by car parking, and in too poor a condition to classify’

Sarsgrum (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

On the A838 – right next to a derelict farmhouse overlooking the Kyle of Durness.

Funny how Rhiannon posted folklore about this site only yesterday and now here I am posting field notes about the place!

This is a super site and I am really surprised that no one has commented on it before now giving it is right next to the main (only) road. As anyone who has visited this part of the world will know you can park pretty much where you like.

The cairn is right next to the derelict cottage and is enclosed by a stone wall. The pile of stones is quite large but best of all is the huge cap stone lying on top of it and its exposed cist!. There are also superb coastal views from the top of the cairn.

I love this part of the world. Where else can you park on an A road which has passing places and where you have to stop your car as there is a lamb suckling milk from their mother in the middle of the road! If you like isolation – this is the place to come. Fab!

I heartily recommend a visit to all who come to the far north – you have to drive past the thing anyway!

CANMORE states:
‘The remains of a large cairn about 50ft in diameter. Most of it has been removed, exposing a cist lying N-S and consisting of a covered slab, 4ft 10ins long by 3ft 4ins broad and 8ins thick, supported on three upright slabs, a fourth at the S end having fallen’. 1909

‘An overgrown cairn as described by RCAHMS and measuring 16m in diameter and 2m high’ 1960

‘This cairn, with cist exposed, as described by previous authorities’ 1978

River Dionard (Broch) — Miscellaneous

Drive by 23.7.14

The ruined broch mound can be seen from the A838 on the western side of the River Dionard.

CANMORE states:
Probable brochin Durness, Suther-land, sited on a spur above the west bank of the River Dionard. It consists of a large mound of earth and stones about 34min diameter on top of which are fragmentary remains of walling which suggest a round building about 18.6-19.0min diameter.

Source: 1. NMRS site no. NC36SE 6.
E W MacKie 2007

East Murkle (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

A short distance west of Castletown, north of the A836. Immediately north of East Murkle Farm.

The cairn is easily seen as a grass covered mound in an othervise flat grass field.

CANMORE states:
A low circular mound measuring about 32.0m in diameter and 1.5m high is under plough, revealing a basic content of earth and shale with some small stone slabs and limpet shells intermingled. In the SW periphery, two rectangular stone slabs of different character lie on the surface.
Visited by OS (N K B) 16 February 1965.

This cairn is a described by the previous field investigator, except that the two stone slabs are no longer evident.
Visited by OS (J B) 2 November 1981.

Cnoc Urray (Broch) — Fieldnotes

North of the A836 – near the Dounreay nuclear power station.

The ruined broch is clearly visible from the A836 as a very large grass covered mound in a flat field. The mound is directly under overhead power cables.

Due to time constraints and the close proximity of the power station (not sure what the security situation is like?) I chose to observe from the road. To be honest I don’t think there would be much to gain by a closer look anyway.

CANMORE states:
Notes NC96 5 KNOCK URRAY NC/98438 6630
Possible broch in Reay, Caithness, consisting of a grassy mound some 26.54m (87ft) in diameter and 3.05m (10ft) high and with a flat top 16.47m (54ft) in diameter on which may be a ruined broch. However no wallfaces are visible.

Sources: 1. NMRS site no. NC96NE 16: 2. RCAHMS 1911a, 94, no. 349.
E W MacKie 2007

Achkinloch (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

Access to Achkinloch is via a short walk from the Great U and through a kissing gate.

Even though the weather had been hot and dry for days the ground was spongy. I imagine that in wet weather it would be very bogy underfoot.

If for no other reason it is worth visiting the chambered cairn as it is a good place to view the Great U.

The standing stone at the cairn is about 1m high.

Loch Rangag (Broch) — Miscellaneous

View from afar 24.7.14

Due to time constraints I was unable to have a proper look but the remains of the broch are easy enough to see from the main road A9.

If you do plan a visit there is a parking area on the A9 and access to the broch is via open moorland and over a fence.

The Great U of Stemster (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

Visited 24.7.14

Sign posted. Approximately 1 mile off the A9. Parking space next to stones.

Visiting the Great U involved a fairly long detour off our planned route but this was a site I was very keen to visit. I wasn’t disappointed.

The stones are surrounded by miles of bleak moorland with hills in the distance.
There are three information boards.
This is an excellent site and has a feeling of remoteness about it.

The stones are quite large and the grass around them not too overgrown.
It is odd how the stones are ‘side on’ instead of the normal ‘front facing’ – there must have been a reason why they set the stones up this way?

If you happen to be heading up the east coast of Scotland try to make time to visit the Great U. It is a most interesting place.

Dunino Den (Sacred Well) — Fieldnotes

Visited 29.7.14

Near the church in the village of Dunino on the B9131

This is without doubt the best ‘Sacred Well’ type site I have ever visited and was one of the highlights of my fortnight in Scotland. It is a superb place to visit.

We parked next to the church and I walked alone down the path running alongside the church towards the trees. It is a lovely little walk through the trees and you then come out to the promontory where the well is. The hole in the rock is circular (the water didn’t look that clean) and next to it is the foot carving – very similar to the one at Dunadd Fort. Yes, I did try my foot for size and yes it did fit!

From here I walked down the steep, slipper stone steps, cut through the cliff face which leads to the gorge floor and stream. This really is a very quaint set of steps although you do have to take care. As you reach the bottom you walk past the Celtic Knot carved into the rock (on your left). Whoever carved this did a very good job.

When I reached the gorge floor the first thing I noticed was the upside down tree trunk bug into the ground - a mini Seahenge no less! This is clearly still an important place to a lot of people. There were lots of ‘offerings’ all around. Teddies, toys, coins, ribbons, candles and even an old black and white photo of a couple sandwiched between two sheets of tin for protection. Someone’s deceased parents perhaps? Clooties festooned the lower branches of several trees. There was also a small hearth near the upside down tree trunk.

This place simply oozed with atmosphere. The sky was blue and the sun shone brightly down through the trees into the gorge, dappled by the leaves. Everywhere was shady and damp. Deep dark moss hung from rock and tree alike.

I really can’t put into words the sense of tranquillity felt here with only the sound of bird song and the trickle of water for company. Coming here gives an understanding of how the ‘sacred groves’ of old would be so important to the ancients. One thing is for sure, if there were such things as fairies, this is where you would find them.

I can’t recommend this place highly enough, especially on a day like today.
I left with a sense of contentment and a smile on my face.
This is why we travel all over the country to seek out these special places.

Carn Glas (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.14

Last time I was here I didn’t have time to park up and walk over to the cairn and had to settle for a view from the road. I was determined to put that right this time.

Karen pulled into the narrow lane opposite (Old Ferry Road) and I quickly crossed the road and headed across the field towards the trees and the cairn. I had to climb over a rusty and rickety barbed wire fence but it wasn’t too difficult.

Luckily the weather had been good and the grass underfoot dry and crispy but in wet weather it would be very bogy.

This really is a great spot for a cairn with expansive sea and mountain views. What was disappointing was the amount of rubbish left on and around the cairn. Not the normal type of rubbish you see – plastic bottles, wrappers etc. but old bits metal, farm machinery etc. There was even the remains of a fire and charred wood in a hollowed out section at the top of the cairn. No doubt a good spot for a BBQ?

I am really glad I got to have a proper visit. Much better than seeing from afar!

Acharn (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.14

Funnily enough I have driven past this stone several times over the years and although I have noticed it I didn’t realise its prehistoric origin.

It is fairly easy to pull over on the grass verge for a quick look at the stone although the A827 can be busy. The stone is on the left hand side of the road if travelling north into Killin.

The stone is about 1m tall and has a pointy top. It is leaning backwards away from the road.

Worth looking out for when heading to/from Killin.

Middle Lix 1 (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Failed visit 21.7.14

The trees have been cut down and the area is now a 'forest' of dry tree stumps and broken branches.
(Although to be fair sapplings have been planted)

The stile mentioned in earlier fieldnotes is also no longer there - not that I could see anyway.

I walked up and down but was unable to see the cup marked stone. It is surprising how much a dead tree trunk can look like a stone from a distance!

Hopefully you will have better luck when you visit.

Kinnell of Killin (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.14

Karen was keen to spend a bit of time in the gift shop – I wasn’t – so I took the children for a walk to this cracking stone circle. Any excuse!

The walk along the road was longer than I remembered and it didn’t take long for Sophie to start to complain. At least it wasn’t pouring down like the last time I visited.

Soon enough we reached the metal gate which gives access to the field where the circle resides (be careful of the electric fence next to the gate).

The crop in the field around the stone had been harvested although the grass in and around the circle was long. In addition to the six standing stones there are several large stones lying prostrate in the middle of the circle. Field clearance perhaps or fallen standing stones?

Oddly enough, although Fingal’s Stone is mention (and has a photo) in the Killin village paths guide I picked up from the library there is no mention of the stone circle. Perhaps because it is on private land? – although there is no problem with access.

This is a great (and easy) stone circle to visit set in a great location. As I have said before, Killin and its waterfalls is a great place to come and whilst there you just HAVE to visit the wonderful stone circle.

Fingal's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.14

Once you have parked in the free car park, walk north along Main Street in Killin. On the left hand side you will see the library. Next to the library is the entrance to Breadalbane Park. From here a sign posted tarmac path leads you directly to the stone – complete with lamp posts for when it gets dark! They have even provided benches for you next to the stone to rest your weary bones!
What more could you ask for?

The stone has been clearly cemented into place and does look a little worse for wear – but at least it is still with us! It is about 1.3m high and the top is covered in green, white and yellow lichen. It also has some moss growing on the top.

There are fantastic views to the North West.

This is am easy site to visit and worth seeking out if visiting Killin.
Clearly access is a lot easier now than when Hamish visited over a decade ago.

Innes Bhuidhe (Promontory Fort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21.7.14

Killin / The Falls of Dochart has to be one of my favourite places in Scotland.
If you are lucky enough to visit in nice weather it is fantastic to just sit on the large boulders watching the river flow around the rocks and island and down under the old stone bridge. I have visited many times but until now have never got around to obtaining the key from the Old Mill in order to visit the Clan Macnab burial ground – which just happens to be in the centre of the promontory fort.

After signing for the key to the access gate (which is on the bridge) a short walk along a ‘path’ takes you into the trees which cover the island. The ditch/rampart crossing the island is fairly easy to spot being about 1m high but largely overgrown. In all honesty there isn’t that much in the prehistoric way to see.

I continued on to the walled burial ground and entered through the metal gate.
The information board states that there are 15 graves here, 9 of them chiefs of the clan. There is one very old looking grave slab laying flat on the ground with a worn figure carved onto it.

This is a very peaceful place. Surrounded by trees with only the sound of birds and the rushing of water either side of the island from the higher falls. I am so glad I finally took the trouble to visit. If you happen to visit Killin (which is worth visiting in its own right) make sure you visit the Clan Macnab burial ground as well.

Cowiemuir (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Failed visited 26.7.14

Didn’t see it - couldn’t get anywhere near it.

The area is completely covered by head height gorse and vegetation.

Winter visit required for this one.

Memsie Burial Cairn (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 26.7.14

From Fraserburgh take the A981 south.
The cairn is on the B9032 (sign posted)

Another Historic Scotland site ticked off the list.
This cairn is a whopper – you can’t miss it!
Access is via a kissing gate and an information board is provided.

Memsie is a big old pile of stones and I am sure it gives the inhabitants of the nearby house something to talk about when looking out of their living room window! I didn't climb to the top as it felt uncomfoartable with the house so near.

What is perhaps best about a visit to Memsie is that it gives a good idea of how many of the now ruined cairns we visit must have looked when in their prime.

Brandsbutt (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.14

In the town of Inverurie. In the suburbs to the north west.
The Brandsbutt symbol stone is sign posted as it is a H.S. site.

There is an information board and the setting of the circle has been marked out on the grass. The site is well and truly knackered but, at least I guess, some of the stones remain.

The Pictish stone is also knackered but again, at least it is still with us.
Luckily the light was good and I was easily able to make out the carvings.

Worth a look if you happen to be visiting the pretty town of Inverurie.

Windhill (Standing Stones) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 22.7.14

Approximately 1 mile north of Beauly, either side of the A862.

After visiting the ruined Beauly Priory (H.S. site) it was getting late and we needed to get to the hotel for the evening. I didn’t get chance for a proper visit but the stone to the west of the A862 can be seen from the road, over a stone wall. It is not too far into the field.

I couldn’t see the stone to the east of the A862.

Garrywhin Cists — Fieldnotes

Managed to spot two of the cists.

One was near the path and well hidden in the heather to the south of the chambered cairn.

The other cist I saw is very easy to spot. It is right next to the path as you approach the cairn, just before the 2nd small wooden walkway.
And very nice it is too!
Three of the side stones remain in place and the cist is about 0.5m deep.

Well worth keeping an eye out for when visiting the cairn.

Garrywhin (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Sign posted off the A9 – just south of Ulbster.
Small car park a short distance from the start of the ‘path’.

We have taken our summer holiday in Scotland for the past several years but we always seem to end up somewhere on the (beautiful) western side of the country. We are looking to move to Scotland in the next few years and therefore wanted to explore parts we haven’t previously visited. This year we decided to ‘do’ the entire east coast to see what it was like and if there was anywhere we fancied living. This also (of course) gave me the chance to visit lots of ‘old stone’ sites and knock many Historic Scotland sites off the list. This is a great example where I was able to do both.

Sophie was asleep and Karen stayed with her whilst Dafydd and myself donned our boots and headed across the moor following the black and white poles. Dafydd took the lead and happily pointed out each new pole as it came into sight. The ‘path’ is easy enough to follow via kissing gate, stile and (in part) a wooden boardwalk, although the walk is nearly a mile.

The sun was beating down on us. It was hot and not a cloud in the sky (typical Scotland weather then!) A gentle breeze helped to keep us cool.

Soon enough we reached the site and needless to say had the place to ourselves. There are 3 large stones helping to support the dry stone walling, a small section of corbelled roof and 2 sets of upright stones which narrows the passageway. The place has a nice ‘remote’ feel about it, reminded me a bit of Orkney or Shetland. In the distance mist was rolling in from the sea. A great sight on this blue and sunny day.

Needless to say before long it was time to head back to the car.

This is a good place to visit and is a pleasant walk which is not too strenuous. However, in wet weather it would be very bogy and muddy in places so make sure you wear appropriate footwear. Flip flops would have been ok today!

Achilty (Henge) — Fieldnotes

Visited 22.7.14

Next to a minor road, north-west of Contin on the A835

Spotted this on my O/S map.

This was my last but certainly not best site of the day.

You can just about make out the circular ditch of the henge amid the tall spiky grass which indicates how wet and bogy the ground is here. Not much else to say really.
On the plus side it is right next to the road so access is easy.

If you are in the area and only have time to visit one henge go and see the one at Cononbridge instead.

CANMORE states:
Contin (Henge): A monument of which there is certain room for doubt. At first sight it seems to be a Class I henge, 75' diameter, but the bank appears to run without interruption across the entrance causeway in the ditch. Only excavation could determine if it was a henge. Even so, it is extremely likely that it belongs to some obscure phase of the transitional period early in the 2nd or even late in the 3rd millenium BC.
R W Feachem 1963

Probable henge, as described above. Slightly mutilated in the W quadrant.
Resurveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (R D) 20 January 1965

Classified as a henge, as opposed to a possible henge.
H A W Burl 1969
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I have visited both historic and prehistoric sites for a number of years but since 'discovering' this website my visits have spiralled out of control!
I am now out 'exploring' as often as possible and have been to many wonderful places I didn't even know existed before using this website.
Having visited all the CADW sites I am now trying to visit all the E.H. sites and as many H.S. sites as possible.
In trying to achieve these goals I get to travel all around the country and with it the chance to visit as many sites as possible mentioned on this fine website. I hope some of you find my contributions a little helpful?
I have certainly found the contributions made by others to be both very informative and often quite amusing!
I must also mention the lovely Karen whom without her help, encouragement and understanding I would not be able to visit half of the places I do.
I am forever grateful.

My TMA Content: