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

Fieldnotes by postman

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Foel Dduarth (west) (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

This site is marked down on the map simply as homestead, which I thought would have meant it was medieval or later, but Coflein confirms that it is prehistoric. So that's any where from late iron age to half a million BC, it's probably late iron age....... probably.
I would have had a look around before now if I'd known it's age, but that homestead appellation threw me off it's scent.
Alken and I were en route from Carnedd y Saeson back to the car park when from out of the mists came this circular-ish enclosure. It was obviously man made and old, so we hung around a bit taking photos. There was at least three dwelling places with in the enclosure, some big stones mark the entrance to the houses. The north facing entrance is clear and either side has much walling material.
Quite a good site, a walk up Foel Dduarth would present a very good place to look down on it, coflein has some good aerial photos.

Meuryn Isaf (Kerbed Cairn)

Now this one, ive been waiting a really long time to get round to seeing. The weather had dissuaded us from going anywhere too high up, also, seeing as the furthest ive walked since my back operation is down the road to Sainsburys, and with hindsight and extremely achy legs, i'm kind of glad we didn't go too high.
But, like Blossom found, it is a long and winding up hill road to the kerb cairn. We dithered a bit at the start trying to find the right route up, inadvertently following the same route up as Blossom.
It was very warm, we were waterproofed against the drizzle, but in summer you either stay cool or you stay dry, not both. It wasn't long until we entered the clouds and the outside world disappeared.
The map clearly shows the cairn on the east side of a forestry track junction, but I could see stones on the west side, closer inspection proved the map to be wrong. The cairn is indeed on the west side of the T junction.

The kerb cairn even three years ago was losing a battle against the surrounding heather, but it's a little worse now, three more years and you'll struggle to find anything at all. What I'd like, would be to take me bike up and stay there all afternoon trimming and pruning. The ride back down would be eye opening to say the least. It would benefit hugely from a tidy, how exactly i'm not sure, but i'd definitely like to see it better. Maybe someone else would.
Up to fifteen stones stand in a circle, some here some there, lots of gaps though. Some stones are contiguous, some are isolated. Some are over a foot tall, and some had to be teased out of hiding.
An off center hole in the cairn is,probably the site of the cist, only one long stone remains now, cist cover or one of the side stones we couldn't tell. The shape of the stone at one end looked like the wear you'd expect from a standing stone, but it could just be the shape of the stone.

I really liked this kerb cairn, but it was a long walk and almost hidden by the heather, the ordnance survey and the low clouds. I'll be back.

Garreg Fawr (Cup Marked Stone)

It's been a few years since Blossom helpfully highlighted the existence of this cup marked outcrop, and ive been dying to come here ever since. Unlike Bloss though we parked at the very pretty Nant y Coed nature reserve, below Dinas settlement, north east of the cups . It is much closer.
It was about a twenty minute walk, but the way wasn't immediately obvious, there is much going on with the map, but with much persevering we soon came across some worn out hut circles that showed we were on the right path and close to the cup marked start to the day.
The weather, it has to be said, was not exactly conducive to teary eyed views of the countryside, the clouds were low and we were in them, there was light drizzle, we were waterproofed but badly overheating. Visibility was down to twenty yards maybe.

So I was fairly amazed that we actually managed to find the cup marked outcrop. Alken remarked upon the number of cups we could see, about thirty maybe at a guess. I didn't realise there was so many, naughty Blossom never said how many there were. Some are shallow, but most are perfect examples, some could be tricks of the light, all had water in them, some had poo in them. The out doors is soooo dirty.

Blossom mentions that there are supposed to be other stones with art carved upon them, we couldn't find anything either. Then we find out about an Arrow stone in the next field and I wonder if that is it.

Shame about the weather, good site though.

Bleasedale Circle (Timber Circle)

This ones been on the radar for a long while now, my excuse for not getting here sooner is it's kind of on it's own in the middle of no where, much map reading and constant observation of road signs will in the end bring you out in Bleasedale. I thought it would be bigger, there's a Bleasedale close at home, it's got more houses than the whole village. We passed the school and parked by the church, there is room de plenty, no one said we couldn't park here, no one was about at all. The path /road passes Admarsh barn on our left, and carries on until Vicarage farm, turn right before you get there, cross the field heading through a gate for the small wood. Tad-daaaa !

It was late in the afternoon after a long day stone hunting when we arrived, we were a bit knackered it has to be said, but the blue skies, fluffy clouds and the flowery fields pulled us on with no exertion needed from us at all, er, the dogs were pulling a bit so that may have contributed too. The whole wooded area is fenced off, keeping the sheep at bay, and a kissing gate lets one enter the enclosure. Immediately right is the over informative information board, I tried to read it all, honestly, then I gave up and took a photo instead, and read it at my leisure at home. There is much to read.
From the information board the ring is about fifteen yards away, I let the kids wander at will with the dogs whilst I wander round and round, looking at it from all angles, and I mean all of them, I laid down on my belly in the ditch, climbed three trees, not easy for a scardy cat with Sciatica, and then I laid down on my back in the centre of it all. My but this is a pretty place, I know there would have probably not been trees all round it, and that they hide the view of the hills with it's eastern sunrise notch (incidentally, there is a possible cairn right next to said hilly notch called Nick's chair, the devil is (not) often called "Old Nick"), but, I really really like it here. The tranquility is complete, even the kids are quiet and the dogs are lazing in the occasional sunny spot, birds are singing all over the place and in the fields all around at least a half dozen Curlews cry there forlorn sad song.
I didn't really want to go, another two hours might have done it, but it really was a long day and we're still a hundred miles from home.
A perfect place to visit if you want to break up a long drive on the M6.

Sunbiggin (Ring Cairn)

From Gamelands stone circle Sunbiggin cairn is, carry on up the lane up Knott hill, but turn and look down upon the circle before you reach the trig point or it will be too below to see. From the trig point go south east and with as much grace and finesse as possible get over the dry stone wall.
However, north east of the trig point is Castle Folds Romano British settlement, which I didn't get to because of time constraints but from pictures ive seen it reminds me of Castle Wark in Derbyshire.
The cairn will come into view soon, it's really very visible, at least from the direction I came and as my daughter says, there's only One Direction. (Ghaaa!)

I do not think this is a ring cairn, true, i'm an amateur, but it is almost definitely a round cairn.
A good one too, as tall as I am and still half it's original height. The obligatory scoop has been taken from it, a bloody big scoop too, and the also obligatory stick, nay, post, arises from the cairns inner, like a frozen arm waving the cairns whereabouts. It is of course made of limestone rubble, as is the whole of Great Asby Scar. Scar is an unfortunate term for such geological occurrences, the exposed limestone paving along with the very odd tree, and the very agreeable view is as mesmerising a place as the cairn or even the stone circle.
From Gamelands this cairn is very nearly 1 mile away, and it is 1495 meters or 878.97 smoots. Its also in line with the stone circle and the summer solstice sun rise, probably. But the circle cant be seen from the cairn, maybe at its original height it could be. But it might not have to be in direct line, just in the general vicinity of the sunrise might have be enough for the cairns owner.
Either way this is an astonishing place and most suitable to sitting silently pondering.

Gamelands Stone Circle

From Orton head east towards Raisebeck, go through a crossroad junction and take your second left. Park on this lane/footpath, there is room. The stone circle is up the path on your right, look for a kissing gate type wotsit.
Sounds easy enough, but I couldn't find it without an OS map once.

Today was the Summer solstice, en route by 2.30 am, with three kids and two dogs, not ideal. But I'm going into hospital for spinal surgery tomorrow so i'll be blown if i'm staying in. Eric and Luke and the two dogs come over to the stones with me, but wet feet and hearing the news that i'm staying here til the sun comes up sent them back to the car for more nap time.
There's just me and the stones, and a long wait til the sun comes up. But to be honest Gamelands isn't really a good place for the summer solstice, the large bulk of Great Asby Scar gets in the way, delaying the magical moment by up to an hour ?
But on the hill, just where it looks like the sun is going rise is a cairn, Sunbiggin cairn, cant be a coincidence surely, and to have the cairn named Sun anything is a bit, you know, provocative.
But the light here pre-sunrise is just great, the sky is a deep blue to the west, and the golden glow of dawn, shimmers among the sparse clouds. Far to the south light creeps down the Howgill fells
They didn't look after this stone circle though did they. All the stones are down or gone, but their size and their bright pink colour makes up for this more than adequately. I cant help wonder about the stones closest to the wall, obviously the wall wasn't built out of broken circle stones or these would have gone first. Why didn't the wall builder incorporate them into the wall ?
What a thought provoking place.
But the sun is taking too long to get anywhere so I decide to go up hill, and photograph the circle as it gets bathed in the first light of summer. Worked well too, plus the limestone paving and the one tree, are a great bonus to the circle below.
Over I go now to Sunbiggin cairn, solstice marker ? we'll see.

Old Man of Storr (Natural Rock Feature)

Well, it's been a long day, we've come quite far to see this, driven through some awesome scenery and seen many wonders on the way, but ive saved the biggest wonder til last.
I came here some years ago, early in the morning, and the place just took me over, completely. The shape of the land, the curves of the cliffs of the Storr, the light, the Golden eagle carrying away a struggling rabbit, and the massive God like Old man.
But I only walked round half of it and sat for ten minutes before it was time to go, so I decided there and then that I would come back and have a fuller look round as soon as circumstances allowed.
A brief window of allowance presented itself and off we shot, like a startled rabbit.

We arrived in good humour, until they saw where I intended to take them, "up there" they cried in unison.
"Yup, come on" I said jovially
They jumped out of the car and followed me up. I wish it had happened that way but, what you gonna do.

The forestry bit that I'd walked through last time had been cut down, so the first half of the ascent was through a desolate wasteland, which was a shame because someone had erected some strange natural sculptures among the trees. All gone now, but the Old man is still up there, and he still draws me on.
Then it's out of the felled bit, through a stile and onto the sheep sheared undulating roller coaster hills below the Storr, but still the Old man remains out of sight.
The view opening out below and around us is, magical, it's difficult in the extreme to adequately describe the scenery here in just a few well chosen words, but magical is my best shot, it works on me so well, I may as well be under a spell. Over four hundred and fifty miles in a day says what?

I can see the old man, but it's perfectly camouflaged against the cliffs behind it, I wonder where it's gone, am I in the right place? we could see it from down the road, why cant I see it, it's not like you can loose it.
We keep going, it must be there, and as we change direction on the hillside it comes out of hiding, I ask the kids if they could see it, they couldn't either. Were getting closer now, heading as straight as we can, for the base of the Dude, the kids and I soon disagree on the easiest way up, I follow the path and they straight line it the way up. When they get out of view I begin to worry, but Eric soon decides his dad knew best and were soon reunited, but Luke doesn't reappear until right at the very top, he looks very out of his comfort zone, don't let kids wander off, giants wander these hills and they wouldn't even notice one underfoot.
Standing staring around together under the Old man I ask them if it was worth the climb, I think the answer was in the affirmative but only just, we soon take a seat and look about, there will be no sunset for us, that's happening on the other side of the ridge, but the distant mountains fill the whole horizon, The Cuilins far right, and I've no idea what all the others are, they stretch far away to the north, and half of them have water between us, I've no idea, but it looked good. How can anyone bare to live down south with this here, even Glasgow's too far south.
But soon the kids will be wanting to go, so, I tell them to stay where they are and I'll be back in a moment, I want to go all the way round the base. Firstly, the ground isn't even, it slants down towards the sea, secondly it's a long way down in places, and whilst it may not be fatal, the fall would be fantastically painful, almost as painful as Sciatica. Two points that make for a scary circumambulation (take that dictionary), but my boots are sticking to the rock very well and soon I'm out of danger, i'm now facing the cliffs of the Storr, and they are forbidding, the tall thin spire next to the Old man is long on its other axis, but from here it brings me out in anxious leg shakes just to look at it.
The place where the big Dude is attached to the ground, looks like, it's been welded into place, the rock is obviously of a volcanic sort, and that's as far as I go in the field of Geology. But those giants, what a bunch, eh?

I've returned to the spot where I left some children, i'm sure that really happened, no it definitely happened, I really did tell my son and his mate to wait here, so where the Samsons jack are they.
I catch up with them shortly and deliver the deserved speech about safety in the hills, then we run all the way back to the car, dead safe.

Na Clachan Bhreige (Stone Circle)

It's been a while since I was last here, lost photos from the previous trip prompted me to return when next I could, well I can and here I am.
First time it was early morning with my old dog Arnie, we got soaked, though it never rained.
This time it's early evening with my son Eric and his best mate Luke whom we've kidnapped for a few days. Rather than come over to the stones with me they've opted to dare each other further and further into the what must have been a pretty cold loch, if it is a loch at all.
I make my way over to the stones trying to pick a good crossing place over the stream that runs into the loch with no name. Last time I was wearing wellies and had to jump it with a Jack Russell in my arms, we didn't make it. This time, the stream was a lot lower and I could just walk over.

The stones were just as I remembered them, but the surroundings if anything were more sublime, the high mountains have more higher mountains peeking over beyond them, I'm sure the position was precisely chosen for this reason. It is a fabulous place, well, as fabulous as Britain gets, the colour of the sky, the grass and the reflections on the loch. The orange colour on one of the stones is particularly fetching. I'd really like to see the one fallen stone re-erected, just so it would be perfect, if it was a four poster, but who knows, its certainly not a stone row.
But it is an epic place, the bare rocky mountains will fill you with dread as you drive round Loch Slapin, they look so tall when they arise right out of sea level. Epic place.

An Sithean (Chambered Cairn)

I'm fairly sure I came here on my last Skye trip, but I have no memory of it except sitting on the stone and wondering at the mountain view, nor do I have any pictures of it, perhaps I didn't even know it was a chambered cairn, it might only have been a top place to sit and gawp.
It is I think understandable, I was probably just passing and honestly the first thing you think about when faced with this is not wow look a chambered cairn, it's oooh look at those mountains, couldn't you just take them home with you.
So whilst this site is not my primary concern on Skye, and seeing as I'm passing again, I'd be a bit of a Muppet if I didn't stop off and take a closer second look.
It still doesn't look much like a chambered cairn, but now that I know, I can see it, though the mountains are still too overpowering.
I did find one quite expansive spread where the cairn material can still be seen, but the kerb stones still look like random stones on a hillock, and the top stone is still a top place to sit and gawp.

Kintraw (Standing Stone / Menhir)

It's been nearly six years since my last stop off here at Kintraw, it is for my money one of the best sites in western Scotland. Sure there is only one standing stone, and the cairns are of the non get into type, but this is one of those places that seems to be greater than the sum of it's parts.
I didn't park in the parking place, again (inwardly groans), but by the first gate you come to when driving north, I did not get in anyone's way.
Some standing stones are barely standing at all, but rather a tallish stone lump, some stones are hidden by long grasses, this one is neither. It is tall, pointy, slim and uber graceful, if I were a rich Victorian landowner wanting a folly, this would be my choice for a standing stone.
The menhir stands between two cairns, of vastly different types, the smaller of the two is a nice little kerb cairn, honestly, I'd have stopped off for just that one. But the other cairn is a whopping great pile of stones, with at least two large kerb stones still in place. Next to it is a fallen monolith, and perhaps others lie around as well. Over by the gate where I came in is another cairn, at least I presumed it to be a cairn, there are some suspicious looking big stones upon it.

But that is not all, this is, allegedly, an observatory, not for observing cars as they belt past, but the sun, moon, comets and returning space gods of old ( I made the last two up). Somewhere near here is a so called observation platform but time precluded a protracted wander round. One can almost imagine some kind of priestly old guys making pronouncements made upon observations, this is how science starts, where it ends I cannot guess, hopefully with all the greed heads going off planet.

Then there's the view, it is gorgeous, not the every day gorgeous of other places ive been to, but world renowned gorgeous. The way the reflections shimmer on Loch Craignish and beyond the Loch the verdant green hillsides above Ardfern. Amid the village of Ardfern is a chambered cairn Ive not been there yet.
But all that is just to the west of here, there's hills
with forts on and mountains behind them.

Kintraw, greater than the sum of it's parts, I really must try and spend a longer time here next time.

Barsloisnoch Lodge (Cist)

I spotted these two cists on the map, and as they are en route to Kilchoan of Poltalloch I decided that a quick look was in order.
As I passed by first time I could see a slight stoney bump in the field, so on the way back I pulled over by the gate and hopped on over. There was sheep and lambs in the field but apart from a few half arsed bleats they mostly ignored me. The small bump I'd spied on my way past was indeed one of the cists, it wasn't a particularly good one, just a small cairn with some stones poking out at odd angles. But the other cist, which was mostly hidden in long reedy grass was much better, maybe. One long capstone still seems to cover the whole thing, it looked intact, how cool.
So, easily seen from the road but the best one is hiding in the grass.

Kilchoan of Poltalloch (Cairn(s))

At Barsloisnoch lodge the road turns left at 90 degrees, we parked the car here, just. Then came the walk up the road to Kilchoan lodge, which was happily mainly uneventful. As you approach the latter lodge listen out for running water on your left, if you look over the hedge you can just see the burial chamber on it's little hillock, or maybe not. Either way keep going til Kilchoan lodge is on your right, take the left hand turn and thar she blows.

Initially, it all looks a bit of a mess, a haphazard jumble of stones. But the more you move around it the more you can tell where things went, mentally putting things back together is something that has to be done and is a good thought exercise, or maybe not.
Greywether goes so far as to identify it as a Clyde cairn, but my knowledge only goes far enough to ascertain that it's a burial chamber. But a good one.
If it wasn't for the nearby lodge this would be a perfect place, as it is, the farm track is a muddy quagmire of a stinky mess, phone lines interrupt the delightful view, and a couple of other little niggles nag at me.
But that view is something though, looking down onto Loch Crinan with tree covered hills beyond and bigger mountains beyond them. A truly beautiful place, if not for the lodge, there's not even any Freemasons.

Dunamuck S (Stone Row / Alignment)

I've been past these two stones loads of times, but their location in a clearly farmed field had always put me off. But not this time, as ive learned that with in reason there is no such thing as trespassing in Scotland. So I parked in the lay-by close to the stones and dropped over the wall into the field. Followed the fence line down to a babbling brook, sorry a burn, crossed it and over another fence. I'm now in the same field as the stones but they're hidden round the corner of a low hill.
Rounding the corner the stones are fifty yards distant, I sidle over trying not to attract attention. A chainsaw buzzes in the trees by the farmhouse.
I'm at the stones , I have a framed photo of these stones on my wall at home, but I cant quite see this in them, if you know what I mean, perhaps the photo is of the other two in the field north of here, before the other stone fell.
One stone is much taller than the other and pointy, whilst the lower stone has a flat top. Both stones have thick lichens on their higher reaches.
A lovely place with two fine examples of their genre, pity about the chainsaw.
On the way back I got closer to the cairn on the hillock top and zoomed a photo, little realising that the two fallen standing stones are right next to it. If I'd known, I'd have risked further non trespassing. Something that does not come naturally to an Englishman ,boxed and caged as we are.

Achnabreck (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

I didn't find this place easy to find at all.
After the depot on the forests edge I turned right instead of going straight on. Accordingly I ended up south of the fort Dun na Maraig on a track that takes you to Achnabeck farm house and standing stone(fallen).
We saw a sign for the rock art pointing into the trees, so it seemed all would be well. But somehow we ended up on what looked like a BMX track which took us to who knew where. But with map and compass and the high fort to get our bearings from we soon found our selves back on the right track. It took us straight to the rock art, Yaay.

I've been to Kilmartin several times now and seen the sign on the road pointing the way here but always I've gone off to see the stones instead. But not this time, it is high on the must see list.
To say that the rock art panels are extensive is to say that the kilmartin glen has some stones in it.
I wasn't expecting it to go on so far, the first panel is quite massive, inclined at 45 degrees, perhaps. It has many interesting forms upon it. But round the corner and you can see just how much further it goes. I'm afraid to say it was at this point that the fence jumper in me got the better of me. Over we go, no one saw us, i think we got away with it. Needless to say we didn't trample on the carvings, we always trod on grass.
One of the spirals is a meter across, huge, comparatively, it's the overgrown mutant of the rock art spiral world.
Plus, there's the view down into and across the valley, it's a nice place, a very nice place indeed.
But just then the swarm came, the real monster of the highlands, those god damn midges. Eric earlier in the day had pointed out some midge hat net thingies, but I said we could cope without them. We couldn't, they fair chased us away, there was more midges than there was vacant air, run for the hills, damn were already there.
The way back was more straight forward than coming.

Dunadd (Sacred Hill)

The cheap car challenge for the day was to visit Kilmartin and end up at The old man of Storr on the isle of Skye. More specifically for the Kilmartin area I wanted to get to the burial chamber at Poltaloch and back up here to Dunadd, it had been so long my archived pictures of the place showed that it had been nearly ten years. So here we go again.

It was about 8am, new (dry) socks for the kids from the garage, sigh and tut.
Eric and Luke shot up the hill with the energy and exuberance reserved only for young children. We practically kidnapped Luke to bring him with us, the poor kids never been to Scotland, the only time he's left England is with us. I'm not sure what he makes of it all.
The first feature reached is the big rock cut, paved entrance, it is very impressive, to say the very least.
Once through the narrow gully it opens out into the lower courtyard. Far right is the well and it's cover stone, and some low tumbled walling can be seen in places. Naturally we keep on going up.
Just below the highest part of the fort is the rock art.
Though rock art is maybe not the right phrase for all of it. The ogham inscription was hard to read but from what I could read was something about the rightful king of Scotland would be a Postman from Crewe.
The foot carving, of which there are two, one very faded, one obvious, it is this obvious one that apparently the king would place his shod foot in to be inaugurated, or something like that. Sounds a tad fallacious to me. The Boar, is pretty faded, only the lower half, the legs and belly of the beast are still clear.
Then it's up to the citadel, or upper courtyard, they don't know which, or it could be a yoga space, maybe even kite flying arena, honestly, even the information board is unclear.
What is clear is the view of the surrounding countryside, twisting rivers going off to meet Loch Crinan and the open sea, rocky hillsides with higher peaks peeking over them. It is a very nice place, when i'm king I shall rehouse my dynasty there, as is my divine right.
Until then I'll go and have a look at some rock art, Achnabreck I think, not been there yet.

Ballymeanoch Henge

Strangely, perhaps, this henge is exactly 100 meters south of the Ballymeanoch two stone row, From the stones, the only sign of this henge is the grass is slightly longer, the ground slightly rougher, it's not much to go on. Even when stood right next to the henge all you might say is what are these stones for ?
The henge is very slight, nay vague, almost not there at all.
But from what I could see, it had entrances at the north and south. The central area is occupied by a cairn with a still mostly covered cist. Apparently two other cist burials were inserted into this cairn. Four large stones can be found around the henge bank.
It is not a Super henge, but it is a super henge.


I started my Ballymeanoch wander at the kerb cairn in the corner, but to be honest, my gaze was forever turning to the stones. Four big stones in a row, graded in height, the largest at the south. The middle two stones have cup and ring marks carved upon them. Between the two smallest stones is a bit of a gap as if a stone were missing. The tallest of the four is twice my height making it about twelve feet up to the top of it's craggy tip.
As if that wasn't good enough two more standing stones lie about fifty feet from here in parallel to the four. Both of these stones are much taller than me but less than twelve feet. All of them are slim, pointy and mossy on their higher slopes.
So, whats it all about then? I could see them being used to measure something in the sky, or perhaps part of a ritual avenue, but to be honest, i'm as perplexed and vexed as I was the first time I came here.
Oh well, i'm sure the vague, unspecific henge just over there will make it all become very clear. Wont it?

Ballymeanoch Cairn (Cairn(s))

In the corner of a field no more than two hundred yards from Duncraigaig chambered cairn, is this little kerb cairn. Its about six meters across and up to about a dozen stones stand up and down around it's circumference. Four stones on the east side could be said to be contiguous, you couldn't even get a razor blade between them. Sorry, that's a lie, but they do look good and it makes me crave a fully intact version. Two large fallen stones are taking a nap, one of them has broken in two the larger part of which has a hole bored through, bored with a diamond tipped circular saw no doubt.

The views are modest yet exquisite, low rocky hills are to the east, south and trees block a presumed view of fort and sacred hill Dunadd. North is the big Duncraigaig cairn, and the rest of the megalith heaven Kilmartin Glen. But mostly it's west and the almost on top of us Ballymeanoch standing stones. Beyond them the the River Add and the Crinan canal empty into Crinan loch.
It's a brilliant little spot, and the cairn is worthy of
some time spent here, but man are those big standing stones overpowering. Not to mention the henge over there.

Dunchraigaig Cairn (Cairn(s))

This is the first site of the day, it's about 6am, it's not cold, but the dew laden grass is going to soak the kids feet quickly, they have gone on before me. By the time I've stones under my feet, they have been round, over and in the chambered cairn, so off they go to the Ballymeanoch stones.
Low mists swirl around over the river and Loch Crinan south and east from here. The hills cut a fine and striking silhouette against a light blue sky, a Blackbird sings loudly in a nearby tree and Swallows swing low over the field next door. It's going to be a good day, if a very long one.
The huge mass of stones is a high one, well over my head, so I climb to the top and find the higher of the two cists. It's not quite able to accommodate me, so I stick the camera in and take a couple of photos.
At the cairns north west edge is a small collection of stones that could be something, a small kerb cairn perhaps. On its south side is the lower chamber, it does not look like a cist, like the one on top, this is big enough to get into.
As first site of the day this is a good way to go, I would probably drive all the way across Wales to see something like this cairn, but in the Kilmartin Glen it's just a minor player in a much bigger game.

Moel Arthur (Hillfort)

The first time I came up here I was with both my kids, the wife stayed at the bottom, I don't remember much about the fort only that it was winter. Going back down the south steeper side, holding hands, my son was pulling us down, my daughter pulling us back and me trying to keep us all upright and not falling to our deaths, despite the obvious dangers were all laughing really hard, the wife said she could hear us laughing from the bottom. That was all a million years ago now though, I miss those uncomplicated go for it days.

This time I'm on my own and I'm coming at it from the opposite side, the northern route is longer but half as steep, my sciatic leg thanked me profusely.
As I start the walk there is a couple of older American ladies right behind me, I decide that I cant let them overtake me so I put my foot down as it were and leave them behind, but slowly. It was nice to know that I can still out pace old ladies.
As I gain some height I can see that the hills are liberally strewn with inattentive walkers. I say inattentive because as I reach the top and enter the fort I see no one else all the time I was there, literally dozens of walkers pass by on the path but not a one bothers to come up and see whats what. Whilst that's good for my visit, I feel sorry for the fort, it deserves some attention, and I feel sorry for the inattentive walkers who are out and about but still not getting their value for petrol money.

I pass through the large obvious entrance and make my way up to the top and sit for a while enjoying the views and the wind in my hair. From up here I can see the Mid Cheshire ridge twenty five miles away, with Beeston castle at its northern end and Maiden castle further south, the inter-connectedness of all the forts round here is almost mind blowing.
From the top I make way down to the earthworks, which are very substantial. Then follow them round, something which ive found just has to be done. On the eastern side they fade away to almost nothing a wall marks the route any fortifications would have followed. The south side is much the same only with no wall. I sit here for another while noting the route down me and the kids took last time, nostalgia huh ? who needs it.
The earthworks slowly rise up again as I approach the east facing entrance. I saw my first Swallow of the year here, which is better than last years behind McDonald's, and heard my first Cuckoo of the year too, do they really say "Cuckoo"? because they seem to be sticking up two fingers to the natural way of child rearing leading me to presume that their call is really more like "F***you".
Passing the entrance I move along inside the deepest ditch, boggy ground with the odd boulder here and there. Up the bank I sit once more amid the heather, very close by I can hear a birds wing flap just once, it is very close but it doesn't betray it's position, now that's parenting.
The heather is very comfy to sit upon. A better seat than this I have not seen in all of Clwyd. Over the bank in front of me is the near but distant Pennyclodiau hill fort, the largest in these hills. I spend quite some time sitting hear, the Swallows are shooting about all around me diverting their streak at the last moment when they see me. Nature abounds.
But now time has gotten the better of me so I must trundle back down to the car park and resume my normal life. Juxtaposed the two parts of my life couldn't be more different, unless I was a spy, super hero or astronaut.
A brilliant fort this one sadly overlooked by all except the attentive.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website seven years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.

My favourite places are:

Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
HafodyGors Wen
Gwal y Filiast
Grey Wethers
Boscawen Un
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt

and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.

My TMA Content: