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

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Long Barrow Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

'Drive by' 14.10.14

I spotted two barrows whilst driving past - both grass covered mounds.

The O/S map shows several barrows on this hill and two long barrows a little to the south.

There is a lot to see here and a proper visit is in order. Looks like the best place to park would be at the church in Long Bredy. From here a footpath runs north east.

Ridge Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

Next to a minor road off the A352 to the north of Cerne Abbas / west of Buckland Newton.

There is very little to see. I could only spot one of the barrows. Approximately 0.3m high x 5m across.

Don't bother.

E.H. state:
The monument includes two bowl barrows aligned broadly NNW-SSE on the crest of Ridge Hill. Both barrows have been reduced in size by past ploughing. The northern barrow has a mound, now elongated but formerly 8m in diameter, and 0.5m high. The second barrow, approximately 30m to the south west, is now visible only as a slight rise in the ground surface but was formerly 13m in diameter and 0.6m high. Both mounds are surrounded by quarry ditches from which material to construct them was derived. These have become infilled over the years and now survive as buried features approximately 2m wide. The barrows lie within a wider area of prehistoric field system which is not included in the scheduling. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

Longlands (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

There is a large barrow which can be seen on the southern side of the wood south of the the other baoor(s) / long barrow.

I spotted it whilst driving north along the minor road between Portesham and the A35.

Valley of Stones Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

You can pull in at the wooden gate and sign pointing the way to the Valley of Stones.
I didn’t have time to visit the valley but immediately to the right of the gate is an area covered by the dreaded gorse. Amidst the gorse, next to the road, is a gorse covered mound.
It is approximately 1 metre high x 10 metres across. You can’t get too close due to the gorse.

E.H. has nothing to report.

Grey Mare Barrows (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.13

Parking at the start of the private road to Gorwell Farm (room for one car) the barrows are easy to see as low grass mounds in the field the other side of the fence. There is a metal field gate which gives access to the field. This was my starting point for visiting the nearby Grey Mare and her Colts.

E.H. state:
Two bowl barrows 283m SSE of the Grey Mare and her Colts
Two bowl barrows situated on the upper western-facing slopes of a prominent hill, overlooking a dry valley and with distant views to the sea. The barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches, from which the construction material was derived. The western mound measures 29m in diameter and 1.3m high; the eastern mound is 24m in diameter and 1m high.

Kingston Russell (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Failed visit 14.10.14

I am gutted about failing to find the stone circle.

We managed to arrange a short two-day break away (without the children!) on the south coast.

This was due to be the first ‘major’ site on my itinerary for the two days but due to the awful weather I rescheduled the plans which basically meant we did things in reverse order. So, instead of being the first site to visit it became the last – which (at least partly) was the reason for my failure.

It was not clear from the map which was the best route to the circle. From the south or from the north?
It looked about the same distance walk so I opted for the approach from the south as I would be able to take in the Grey Mare and her Colts on the way. (Despite being an E.H. site they give no information on the best way to approach the circle – despite an e-mail to them requesting advice). Unfortunately I had not read dickie's directions beforehand – mistake.

After visiting the Grey Mare I continued north through the fields (but not as I should have done along the bridleway). After crossing the first field I was met by a large field in crop. I was able to walk part-way into the field along a track but there was no way through it without causing damage – something I wasn’t prepared to do. I re-traced my steps but could find no other way past the field of crop.

Due to time constraints I discounted the longer walk past Gorwell Farm as I needed a more direct route.
I decided to return to the car and attempt an approach from the north. We weaved our way through the maze of unsignposted lanes and followed the road as far as we could. Unfortunately about 1 mile before where the O/S map shows the road ends and the footpath starts the road turns into a very rough track – suitable only for 4x4s.
I simply didn’t have time for this extra walk as we had to get back for the children. I was very, very disappointed.

The next time I visit I will take the rout via Gorwell Farm. Although it may be longer than dickie's directions it involves the shortest distance ‘off road’. Given my poor orientation skills this probably gives me the best chance of success!

I would be happy to hear the advice of others who have visited as to which is the best route to take.

I guess you win some, you lose some………………… Still gutted though!

The Grey Mare & Her Colts (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

Park at the start of the private road to Gorwell farm (room for one car).
Directly in front of you is a bridleway. Walk along the bridleway (high hedge on your left) until you reach a wooden stile. Go over the stile, turn right and walk a short distance until you reach a metal gate on your left. **This is NOT the gate you see immediately after going over the stile**. You will see the long barrow from the gate.

As has previously been reported, despite its ruined state, there is a lot to recommend a visit.
The standing / fallen facing stones are very large and there are sufficient remains of the earthen part of the long barrow to easily make the shape out. Far away in the distance the coastline and sea can be seen. On my visit the field was full of sheep that seemed quite at home nestled down amongst the stones – until I disturbed them!

Despite the damage caused to it the long barrow has somehow retained a sense of ‘atmosphere’.
It only takes about 5 minutes to walk to the Grey Mare and it is well worth the minimum effort required.

Sheep Down Long Barrow — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

As formicaant states the long barrow is easy to visit (being close to the minor road running south from the A35 to Portesham) but there is not much to see.

It has now been reduced to a long low grass mound.

Still worth a look when in the area.

Sheep Down (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

I was able to spot 3 barrows when driving along the minor road to the east. They appeared as rough grass covered mounds.

Access to the barrows can be made via a farm track leading from the road.

Bottlebush Down (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Driving along the B3081 I could spot two of the barrows showing on the O/S map.

Both are rough grass covered mounds.
One is right next to the road and the other is further into a field.
Parking would be difficult on this busy road.

Oakley Down (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Several of the barrows making up this cemetery can be seen when driving along the very busy A354.
Parking would be a problem if opting for a closer look.

Lanceborough King Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Viewed from Maiden Castle 14.10.14

This is a very large barrow and can be easily seen on the road leading to Maiden Castle car park and from the car park itself. However, the best view is from above, from the ramparts of Maiden Castle.

I am not sure which direction to take if you wanted a closer look as the barrow is surrounded by fields in crop. As far as I know there is no public right of way to the barrow.

Maiden Castle (Dorchester) (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 14.10.14

I had previously visited this iconic site a few years ago but then I was short of time and only had chance to explore a short section of the mightily impressive ramparts. This time would be different as it is a morning visit and I could take my time – allowing for the fact that Karen would be waiting for me sat in the car!

It is a 5 minute walk from the car park, up the path, and through an original entrance of the hillfort. You then come to the first of several information boards scattered around the site. This directs your attention to the surviving low bank of what is left of the long barrow. This would be very easy to miss if you weren’t specifically looking out for it.

The rain (thankfully) had eased today and I was able to walk around (in a clockwise direction) in comfort. Although the skies were a menacing grey there was little wind and the temperature was very mild for the time of year. There were only two other people visiting the site, one was walking her dog and the other looked like a student who was making notes and sketches as she walked around.

The ramparts are superb and must have looked amazing in their prime, topped with a huge wooden palisade. Even the mighty Roman army must have been (at least a bit) intimidated when confronting this hillfort - although we all know the eventual outcome! The hillfort dominates the surrounding countryside and as you walk around the defences there are good views to be had in every direction.

As I walked around I spotted 3 circular shapes in the grass, given away by a ring of darker grass. Were these the outlines of huts? They certainly looked to be about the right size. My next stop was the information board at the remains of the Roman temple – well worth a look.

I then stopped at the eastern entrance to the hillfort where I feel the defences are at their most impressive. (This is the section of the site I explored on my previous visit).
The two information boards (one broken) explain about the complex defences and the discovery of the pit of sling shots and mass grave found here. I was also able to spot what looked like the remains of a round barrow.

I continued my walk around the site until I ended up back where I started. Walking back down towards the car park the large barrow in the fields beyond looked particularly impressive. It took me just over an hour to complete the circular walk. There are worse ways to spend an hour of your life. When I got back to the car Karen had fallen asleep so I gave her a bit of a fright when I opened the car door!

This is a famous E.H. site but it has not been commercialised (like others) and you can happily wander about the hillfort pretty much wherever and whenever you want. I have visited many hillforts over the years but in terms of sheer scale and impressiveness there is nothing to compare with Maiden Castle.

This is one of those sites which is worth travelling a long way to see. If you get the chance to visit, do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Cowdown Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

North of Newton Barrow on the western side of the A360.

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Despite these being nowhere to park the barrow can be easily seen when driving past.

It is approximately 1 metre high x 10 metres across.

Winterbourne Stoke Long Barrow — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

After visiting the new visitor centre at Stonehenge I kept an eye out for this longbarrow on our way south. I have known about this site for a long time but had never actually seen it. I am pleased to say that it is very easy to spot when driving past. There is no chance of parking near the longbarrow. I am not sure where the closest parking would be – the visitor centre main car park perhaps?

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

Visited 13.10.14

Since the closing of the road / opening of the new visitor’s centre I had been keen to re-visit Stonehenge. Not to look at the stones but the new exhibition centre.

The visitor’s centre is very easy to access and looked quite impressive on the approach to the large car park. Despite the foul weather the car park had several coaches and many cars already parked up. Several groups of school children excitedly waited with their teachers for their turn to board one of the land trains.

Karen went for a much needed coffee whilst I headed for the ticket booth. The lady looked a little surprised when I said I only wanted a ticket for the exhibition centre and not to see the stones themselves but a ticket was duly issued. It is nearly £20.00 per adult to see the stones and exhibition – I have no idea how much it would be to just see the exhibition. Fortunately I have a CADW card so admission was free for me.

As you enter the building you first come to a 360 degree surround visual display of what it is like to be in the centre of the stones at the mid-summer / mid-winter solstice. The film is run on a loop and I thought it was well done although it only lasts a few minutes (ship ‘em in – ship ‘em out) came to mind.

From here you enter the main exhibition room which has another large visual presentation along the far wall and several displays along the other walls. There are (I think) 8 free standing glass display cabinets in the centre of the room which were really interesting. I particularly liked the pretty ‘ceremonial’ mace head. The ‘reconstructed’ head of the controversial skeleton on display is excellent and very life-like. I spent quite a long time moving slowly from cabinet to cabinet.
There is a lot to see – pottery, bone tools, stone tools, flint arrow heads, flint scrapers etc.

I then went out the back door to have a look around the reconstructed round houses. The rain continued to pour and as such there were few people about. The replica (fiberglass) megalith on the wooden sledge was impressive and gives a good idea of the scale involved in moving these massive stones. You can even test your strength in trying to move it!

There was a private event going on in one of the huts and a flint knapping demonstration in another. I spent a bit of time chatting to an E.H. chap in the other round house who explained to me how they built the hut and showed me the clever way they made the door. A small mouse scuttled past – not a bad place to live!

I then headed for the café to meet up with Karen and we finished our visit with a look around the shop. The shop is much bigger than the old one and you can buy just about anything with a Stonehenge theme – a Stonehenge snow globe anyone? Some of the prices were eye watering and clearly aimed at the overseas market – an engraved glass vase £500.00, a limited edition teddy bear for £110.00………. I decided not to bother!

All in all I was very impressed with the new visitor centre and it is certainly much better than the old one. However, I did come away with a few negatives.
Firstly, with the exception of the chap I was speaking to in the round house, all the staff I encountered seemed quite miserable? There was little interaction with visitors and very few smiles to be seen. Everything seemed a bit much trouble. I know not everyone is happy in the job all the time but it is a lot of money to visit Stonehenge so a smile and a friendly face wouldn’t go amiss!

Also, when we were sat in the café we looked outside to see children trying to keep out of the rain (and keep warm) whilst eating their sandwiches. Why hasn’t E.H. provided a ‘school room’ where children can eat their sandwiches in the warm and dry on days like today? I am sure Stonehenge generates enough income to pay for one. Most large ‘attractions’ (which is what Stonehenge is) have these facilities. Perhaps I am doing a disservice and they do have one but I didn’t see it?

Even if you have been before the new visitor centre / exhibition room makes Stonehenge a place to re-visit. Just make sure you take plenty of money with you.

Marden Henge (and Hatfield Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

I first visited this site a few years ago but on that occasion I was in a rush and I (somehow) missed the information board. I had been meaning to revisit ever since.

This time I had Karen with me and it didn’t take her long to spot the info board. It is the other side of a wooden stile giving access from the road to the small field owned by English Heritage.
The heavy rain didn't help when trying to read the information.

As has previously been said there is very little left of the henge to see - a low, arcing grass bank.

Although what remains of the henge obviously needs to be protected I am not sure why E.H. has this site on their advertised list of ‘places to visit’.

It is a bit out of the way and I am sure the average visitor would be somewhat disappointed by what they find.

There are certainly other much better preserved henges people could visit and appreciate.

Newton Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

There is room to park off the very busy A360 at the start of the track which leads to the transmitter aerials. The barrow is a short distance along the track.

Not a lot to see other than the usual low grass mound.

Can be seen quite easily when driving past.

New Barn Farm (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

‘Drive by’ 13.10.14

Just south of Knowlton Henge, on the east side of the B3078

The barrow is easily seen from the road as a tree and bush covered mound.

The barrow is approximately 2 metres high x 25 metres across.

Wimborne St. Giles (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

South of Cranborne near the junction of the B3081 / B3078.

There are several barrows marked on the O/S map either side of the B3081 and in woodland adjacent to the B3078.

The bad news is I couldn’t spot any of the barrows marked as being in open fields to the west of the trees. Ploughed out?

The good news is there are two whopping barrows to be seen directly opposite each other, in trees, on the B3081. There is room to park next to the trees / metal gates.
(Ignore the private – no public access sign!)

Both barrows are very large, approximately 3 metres high x 15 metres across.
The surfaces of both barrows are covered in ivy. There is a small depression in the top of the northern barrow which may indicate previous excavation? I didn’t spot any depressions in the southern barrow but chances are it has been dug into at some point.

If you happen to be in the area these are a cracking pair of barrows to have a look at.
The only thing to spoil the visit was the rubbish dumped at the side of the road. (I thought I was back home in South Wales for a minute!)

For some reason I couldn’t find any E.H. information on these barrows – which seemed strange given their size and close proximity to the road.

The Great Barrow (Artificial Mound) — Fieldnotes

When visiting Knowlton Henge the barrow is unmissable.
It is in a private field next to the henge (full of sheep at the time) and does not have a public right of way to it. The field is overlooked by a farm house who I assume own the field?

If you want to access the field for a closer look it is easy over a low metal fence.
I chose to view from the henge as there didn’t seem much to gain from getting closer – other than perhaps an upset farmer?

The barrow is large but totally overgrown with several large trees and many bushes.
I would imagine climbing to the top of it would be tricky.

Knowlton Henges — Fieldnotes

Visited 13.10.14

Sign posted off the B3078. You can park right next to the site.

This is one of those sites that I had been looking forward to visiting for a long time.
I am pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed – despite the heavy rain coming down.
(At least I had the site to myself!)

This is pretty much as easy a henge you are ever likely to visit. It has obviously suffered from erosion over the years but it is still in pretty good condition. It must have been very impressive when first constructed.

What surprised me was the old yew tree at the far side of the henge which was covered in clooties, bells, feathers, messages etc. Some of the messages were quite moving. It is nice that some people keep the old traditions alive.

The ruined church is also an obvious place to have a look around.
Inside the church were many tea lights scattered about the floor.

Knowlton Henge is well worth visiting if you are in the area.

That’s another English Heritage site knocked off the list!

Pen-Rhiw-Wen (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

East of Llyswen – near the A470 / A4079 junction. South of Builth Wells.

On the road near Boughrood there are two places to park. Either outside the pub (which has a warning notice advising that parking is for patrons only) or at the school. As I was driving from Boughrood I didn’t know about the pub parking so chose to park at the school. As the children were in school I don’t suppose this was a good idea as you have to be careful these days in case people get the wrong idea.

I crossed the road and headed for the newly installed wooden gate and the newly cleared footpath going up the hill. The path was very muddy despite the nice weather – a dry stream bed ran alongside the path – no doubt in full flow in wet weather!

At the top of the path a stile on the left leads you into a field. You then have to walk up the very, very steep field until you reach the trees and the next stile. By the time I reached the stile I was hot, sweaty and panting – not as young as I used to be!

The people renovating the footpath have clearly not reached this far yet as there is no trace of a path through the overgrown trees. I battled my way through heading in a north-west direction. As luck would have it I came out at the right place – next to another stile. From here the enclosure could be easily seen on the other side of a barbed wire fence. The banks are overgrown with trees but easy enough to make out.
What would be great views are completely blocked by the trees.

I didn’t stay long as I was conscious of my car being parked at the school and I knew it was nearly lunch time. Time to go before any awkward questions are asked!

You need to be mobile and fairly fit to visit this site.
Best park somewhere more sensible as well.

COFLEIN state:
A roughly oval enclosure, 90m by 100m, defined by double banks and ditches, which merge into scarps on the east, downhill side.

Tre Durn Wood (Enclosure) — Miscellaneous

Mid way between Llandefalle and Llanfilo – just north of the A438.

After visiting the lovely old church of St Matthew in Lladefalle (complete with fragments of mediaeval wall painting) I attempted to visit this nearby enclosure.

Unfortunately I hadn’t allowed for the very narrow roads with little to no passing or parking places. It was dodgy enough parking at the church, certainly not a place to leave your car for too long.

There is no public right of way to the site and a visit to Tre Durn would involve a long walk from wherever you were able to park. Something I didn’t have time for as I was keen to visit the not too distant Hills Camp Hillfort.

Pen-yr-Allt (Enclosure) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

200m west of Hills Camp Hillfort.

When visiting Hills Camp you just have to visit Pen-yr-Allt at the same time. You can either access via the road or if (like me) you prefer the direct approach you do have to cross boggy ground and a barbed wire fence.

The remains of the low bank (less than 1m) is surmounted by trees although is easily seen. There are plenty of stones sticking out of the bank to show how it was constructed.

COFLEIN state:
A poorly preserved hillfort set upon a ridge top. It appears to be a shield shaped enclosure, 60m by 45m, the flat side facing south. The enclosure is defined by banks and ditches, except where it rests above precipitious natural slopes on the west.

Hillis Camp, Llanfilo (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

Looking at my previous notes this was again to be my last site of the day. I wanted to first visit the old church in Llanfilo but the door was locked and the key holder was not at home when I knocked. This was a shame as the church has an apparently particularly fine rood screen and pre-Norman font.

I left the car outside the church and decided to walk to the site as I didn’t know what the parking was going to be like any closer. As it turned out I could have driven up the hill, through the trees, along the minor road which runs along the north of the hillfort. By now the sun had come out and it went from humid to hot. It would have certainly saved my tired legs a walk but there we are…………….

Although, technically speaking, there is no public right of way to the site in reality there are several points of access from the road. Best bet is to walk to the top of the hill and then up and over one of the metal field gates. It is then only a short walk across a flat field.

The is not a huge amount to see here as the rampart surrounding the hillfort is completely overgrown by trees and bushes. Although in places you could see it still stood to a height of approx. 2m when viewed from the outside. The inside of the hillfort is an oval open field of pasture. A trig point is located in the middle of the site. Good views are to be had over towards the Black Mountains? to the east.
There is not much else I can add really.

Not too much to recommend a visit unless you planned to combine it with a visit to the church perhaps?

Boughrood Court (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

From the A470 (south of Builth Wells) take the turning for Boughrood. Go over the bridge and take the first turning left. Drive past the church and take the immediate left turn. The barrow is in a field on your left – next to a hedgerow.

There is nowhere to park other than next to the field gate which gives access to the field. Even then you would be probably blocking this narrow road. I decided not to take the chance and settled for a quick look from the gate.

There is not much to say about the barrow. It is now a ploughed down mound.
Not one to go out of your way to visit.

COFLEIN state:
A mound, 17m in diameter and 1.1m high.

Maesgwyn Mound (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

From Paincastle take the minor road south across open moorland. You will come to a small N.T. sign on the left (east) of the road stating ‘The Begwns’. There is loads of room to park on the grass near the sign. Head up the slope to the highest point, keeping the dry stone wall on your right. When you reach the top you will see the barrow as a large fern covered mound on your left.

Although the sky was overcast it was very close and humid. It was certainly warm for the time of year and thankfully dry underfoot. It is only a short walk from the road to the barrow.

It was very peaceful with no wind and only the sound of bird song for company. There are good views to be had although today the surrounding hills were surrounded in mist.

The centre of the barrow had been clearly dug into and the crater left is about 1.5m deep – pretty much the height of the barrow itself. The barrow is overgrown with ferns, as is its immediate surroundings.

This is a good place to visit – particularly on a day like today.

COFLEIN state:
A centrally disturbed mound, 22m by 17m and 1.8m high. Believed to have been opened prior to WW2. There is a tradition of an urn being discovered here’.

Pen Cae Newydd (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

From the A470 (just south of Builth Wells) take the B4594 east.
The barrow is next to the road on the southern side – south east of Blaen Henllan cairn.

The barrow is now no more than a minor ‘bump’ in a field. Access is via a field gate near a passing place.

Not worth the effort.

COFLEIN state:
A Mound 17m in diameter and 0.5m high, set on a low spur in a valley bottom.

Blaen Henllan (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 5.9.14

From the A470 (south of Builth Wells) take the turning east for Llandeilo Graban. Continue east along the narrow, minor road and the cairn is on the northern side of the road just after the cattle grid.

I had taken the day off work to get away from all the NATO shenanigans and decided to head for mid Wales to visit Llewellyn’s Cave which had been on my ‘hit list’ for some time. This is the cave where it is said Llewellyn hid the night before he was ambushed and killed by English soldiers in 1282. Although tricky to find it was well worth the effort.

Of course, as I happen to be in the area I decided to do a bit of ‘old stoning’!

Blaen Henllan cairn is easily seen from the road as a rough-grass covered prominent mound in the middle of a field. The field was full of sheep when I visited and access would be over a barbed wire fence. I settled for a view from the road.

Worth a quick look if you happen to be passing – which is unlikely!

COFLEIN state:
Remains of a burial cairn situated on a prominent local knoll in an enclosed field of pasture. Circular in plan measuring 9m in diameter and 1m high.

Mains of Clava SE (Clava Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 25.7.14

Whilst Karen was putting the children back in the car I took the opportunity to have a quick look at this cairn. Access to the field is over a metal field gate.

The site is completely neglected and overgrown. The stones are small and well hidden by the long grass, brambles, bushes etc.

Unless/until this site has been cleared I couldn’t recommend a visit.

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.
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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: