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Tre'r Ceiri (Hillfort)

A walk to the City of the Giants. 25 September 2016

A spur of the moment decision to pop down to North Wales and see Auntie Betty and the family turned into a marvellous weekend of stormy seaside strolls, some good dining (with a few beers) and a Sunday Afternoon walk to the City of the Giants. A few years back when myself, my OH and son were en-route to a wedding at Nant Gwrtheyrn, I’d seen the signpost for the footpath and promised a walk up to Tre’r Ceiri next time we were down. Cousin Gavin had described the place to me and I’d checked it out on Google and Bing Maps. I had since seen the photos on TMA from postman, GLADMAN and thesweetcheat. On Saturday Night last, at dinner in Pwllheli, Gavin suggested a stroll to the City of the Giants on Sunday afternoon. We had spent Saturday watching kite-surfers riding a frothing cauldron and getting airborne at Hell’s Mouth, so I was a little uncertain as to what the weather would bring on Sunday, but a plan was made.
Sunday dawned bright and fair. Gavin and June brought the Gavmobile round to pick us up and we headed off. From Pwllheli you just head out on the A499 towards Caernafon and turn off to the left down a wee narrow street at Llanaelhaearn and head round the foot of the hills between Tre’r Ceiri and Mynydd Carnguwch. There is a great wee pull in spot here.
The footpath begins right across the road. A little steep at the start, then up over a stile at the top of the field, a little to the left around the big rocky crag of Caergribin and then it is a fairly level walk across the moorland to the foot of the crag which is the City of the Giant’s perch. I was genuinely floored with amazement as the bright sunlight picked out the faces of the massive stone walls. The flat tops of the mighty defences looked wide enough to drive a car around. My son ran ahead and I watched him dart up the steep entrance while I sweated it out on the heather flanks below. We were less than 30 minutes from the Gavmobile and hadn’t been forcing any kind of hard pace. This is a fairly easy walk and boy does it pay every easy stride back in spadefuls!
I’ll let everyone’s photos of this historical wonder do most of the talking here. There is an awful lot of stone meeting the eye. It is hard to take in the scale of the construction at Tre’r Ceiri. All around are the stoney, scree-strewn peaks of Yr Eifl, Moel-Pen-Llechog and the lower (yet strikingly beautiful) peaks which unfold down the length of the Llyn Peninsula towards Nefyn. But standing straight across from the City of the Giants is the mighty upright cairn of Mynydd Carnguwch, time and again I found my eye was dragged back to look at its profile. The Welsh sun shone all afternoon. We could have stayed all day.
The preservation is exceptional, the walls are a wonder, the simple areas of restoration are easy to spot (with their little drill holes). This is the most amazingly preserved, mightiest, most grandest, finest, panoramically stupefying-est, weirdly intoxicating hillfort I have ever been in. If you are in North Wales and can walk for half an hour or so on fairly easy terrain, get yourself up to Tre’r Ceiri, the City of the Giants. It’s a monster!
Howburn Digger Posted by Howburn Digger
27th September 2016ce

Harboro' Rocks (Rocky Outcrop)

The last time I came here I spent too much time climbing around on the rocks and in the cave to go up to the top by the trig point, consequently I missed out on the the best view, the natural but funky menhirs, the rock chair and the now all but gone neolithic chambered cairn.
There's no end of places to go in this part of the Peak district, but I thought I'd come back here and finish off my look around the rocks, nine years later.
I trail after a couple of climbers hauling big bundles of ropes up the hill, they soon go one way so I go the other and make my way straight up to the top, to find the rock chair. Up on the top is an out of place chap in a suit and tie walking his dog, we nod as our paths cross, finding the chair isn't as simple as I thought it would be, naturally it is the same colour as all the other rocks. But a few minutes later and I'm sat between it's welcoming arms, the same year that I last came, six months later and someone has tried there best to destroy it, in Stu's pic of the chair the breaks are bright and tear wrenching, but now it's all the same colour and I had to remind myself that not long ago it looked even better. But one thing that hasn't changed in the last ten years is the big factory thing at the foot of the hill, its really quite an eye sore. But the rest of the views are excellent, Carsington water, Minninglow and Aleck low, a fleet of wind turbines and all the gnarled rock beneath my feet, all good stuff. After lounging round in the chair I go up to the trig point, passing the presumed whereabouts of a Neolithic chambered cairn, now all gone. Amid the rocks on the hill top are a couple of natural menhirs, one points towards Minning Low, kinda, the other has a basin in it's top, with a plug hole, cool.
Going back down the rocks to a lower terrace we come to the cave, a large squarish cave made of the edges of massive blocks of stones, it has a chimney, which you could fall through from above if your not careful. In the lowest corner the cave dips under a large boulder and goes off into a cramped dark who knows where, I got as far as I could without getting filthy before I turned back. I love caves, kind of scary, secluded, atmospheric places, I decide to go to Thors cave there and then. So off back to the car after another long look at some of the rock formations, and what looks like a short souterrain, is it a spring well, a drain of some kind or what, I dunno, it's weird.
Minning low looks pretty good on the horizon, but it was a bit too misty to get a good photo.
postman Posted by postman
25th September 2016ce

End Low (Round Barrow(s))

I parked to the west of the barrow on the side of the road next to an old quarry, a bit further down the road a footpath heads east along a farm type track. After the footpath turns right keep going along the track until it peters out in an undergrowth choked kind of way. Then head up hill and there's your barrow, no shouting, no chill busting farmers, just a quiet peaceful place with a great big barrow.
I'm fairly appalled at Stubobs visit when he came across four dead cows in the barrows scooped out interior, no such disgrace here today though, so I perch my butt on the craters rim, and rain down negative vibes upon the farm yonder, hopefully they'll go bust one day soon, them and many more. Is it too negative to be disgruntled at not being allowed to go somewhere?
postman Posted by postman
25th September 2016ce

Lean Low (Round Barrow(s))

The first time I tried to get up to this cairn I ridiculously tried to get there with two dogs and Eric, who to his credit had a very gung ho attitude, but even though three fences barred our way it was the cows that sent us packing and hoping for better results next time.
Next time....
After staring at Lean low for quite a while from Arbor Low, I reckoned my chances of getting up there were pretty good, early in the morning on my own, what could go wrong.
Parked my car across the road from the footpath stile, not a problem, walked through the stile and into the field, now, the footpath goes off in totally the wrong direction, there is no footpath that helpfully drops one of at the cairn, so I deviate from the path and head for the corner of the field. Stepping over the electric fence, I'm reminded of why electric fences aren't funny, but there's something else round here that's not funny, it proceeded now to shout at me, I couldn't tell what it said nor could I see it, but I know what angry farmer sounds like so I step back over the fence and walk the fifty yards over to the footpath and follow it, willfully walking away from where I'm trying to get to. There's nothing for it but to ask the farmer for permission to access the ancient monument ironically placed in his custody, but thankfully not the shouty one.
I approached the quad bike riding farm guy, with my "I want to talk to you" face fully on, he didn't come over until it was obvious the weird bloke from far away was going to stare at him until he came over, so he did.
I asked as politely as my mother would have liked if it would be OK to have a look at the cairn on top of the hill, but it went the kind of way I rather expected it would, he said no, he did not say yes, he definitely didn't say sure mate I'll give you a lift up there right now, no, he said, I've got bulls up there, I resisted glancing at his crotch, thanked him kindly, turned and walked away, back to the car.
As I was walking along the big A515, a large black 4x4 drove slowly by, I readied myself for diving into the verge, but no gun appeared so I kept going.
Fifty yards away from my car the big back monster truck pulled up right next to mine, here we go I thought, English farmers are the worst of all, I clenched my fists and several sphincters, and walked over to meet the driver, He said "what are you doing?"
"Your Mother" then I punched him in the face, or I might have said I'm trying to get upto that cairn, one of those things anyway.
"What? he said,
I rolled my eyes, and took a deep breath.
I pointed up at the cairn, "you know what a cairn is?", I motioned a hand in a cairn shape, "an ancient burial mound made of stones, that cairn there" he then proceeded to take my photo, that's a cheap trick, hang on mines in me pocket, he also said some other things but I couldn't understand his inane waffle, his thick accent, probably a scouser. I tried to exude an air of utter bemusement. Then he was gone, like a thief in the night, or a pig in shit, or a dick in a big car. I unclenched everything and sat in my car for a minute until I'd stopped shaking, then I thought, hopefully later today he'll look at the picture he took of me and he'll recognise a look on my face that he probably hasn't seen for a while, a look that says he thinks I'm a dick.
postman Posted by postman
24th September 2016ce

Arbor Low (Stone Circle)

21st September 2016

It's been six years since I was last here, flipping blimey, really? it was an equinox then too, but spring not Autumn as it is now, well actually the equinox is tomorrow, in the afternoon some time, that would kind of ruin your chances of a good sun rise I'd have thought. My day of is the 21st though so that's why i'm a day early, I'm not happy about it though, I try to get out on these days above all others, it just has to be done, almost as if the fate of the world rested in my being at some stones for the sunrise. I've lied to work in the middle of Christmas working, I've gone out a couple of days after having complicated surgery, I've gone to the lake district, forgotten my daughter and gone back and then on to the Peak district, it's important to me, saving the world, and everyone else, probably.

With Arbor low being so close to me I was well in time for the sunrise, but unfortunately the sky didn't look like it wanted to cooperate, it was a fairly grey day, I sighed inwardly, then realised I was alone and sighed out loud. But then a miracle happened over to the east there was a small thin sliver of actual sky, close to the horizon, could I dare to hope that the sun would pass up through this tiniest of gaps. I unpacked my sitting mat and sat upon it, they're very handy things, sitting mats, if you find one on a mountain top I strongly recommend you pick it up and nick it, then I waited for the great luminary to make an entrance, however brief it may be, if at all.

Whilst I waited from my vantage point on the west bank I could see that were it to rise where I predicted it would be just to the left of the big barrow in the henge, right where a gap in the henge is, was the gap made by the building of the barrow, or is it especially for folk like me to spy on the secret paths of the sun. I also wondered where the ancient people would have stood and watched what ever was going on here on days like these, were they outside the henge? upon the henge? in the ditch? in the circle? did they even stand at all, it might have been a dancing kind of experience, I don't do dancing, not sober anyway, so I continue to sit, and wait.
Until the waiting was over, the sun was coming, and I could see it through my crack in the cloud, I don't think I've ever said that before, but there it was, a golden sliver of beautiful light, I photographed it, but my skills are seriously lacking in low light, but you give it a go don't you? without resourcing to multiple cameras and much trickery, or perhaps not.
It only took five minutes and its completely passed through my crack, I saw it all, just not all at the same time, then it was gone, swallowed by the grey.

World saving duties over I set about the stones, inspecting each one individually, on one of the stones on the west side I think I spotted a couple of very worthy cup marks, I'm not sure I've seen them before, nor heard of them, so It's always worth the time to inspect each stone singly.
Most of these stones could be re-erected, much to the benefit of the site, Burl called Arbor low "the Stonehenge of the north", but that doesn't seem to bring the crowds, imagine if the stones were a standing. Some couldn't be stood back up though as they've shattered into up to a half a dozen pieces, but it's OK to have a few lying down, isn't it.

From the henge bank Gib hill is looming large at the back of the next field, I always go over before I head off to pastures new, not sure why, I don't think it matters. The information board tells me that Gib hill is two cairns, a long one with a round one on top, I don't think I knew that before either. Another cairn can be seen from here, across the big road the A515, Lean low it's called, i'm off there now. Tatty bye.
postman Posted by postman
24th September 2016ce

Pyrenees Orientale (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

The Pyrenees are the new Ben Lawers .
When I finally heard back from French archaeos about a load of unrecorded rock art I was asked to not mention the area or site .
Therefore the best I can do is list them under Pyrenees . That should be vague enough .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
23rd September 2016ce

Arr Wood (Cairn(s))

Arr Wood is bonny cairn situated in a small forest clearing. The turf and fern covered site is 16 meters wide and over 1 meter in height. Underneath the foliage a kerb runs round the covered stones some of which do poke their noses through to the surface. On top of the cairn there is a small pile of stones. Several fence posts also surround the site which according to Canmore hasn't been disturbed. I hope this condition remains for a long long time.

From Easter Clunes I headed west along the minor road which included driving through a rare ford near Fornighty Farm, though not as rare as I thought as I have found several since. Veer north at the farm, through the ford and keep heading west until the second minor road north. Stop at the first forestry track heading east. OS have tracks leading to site but sadly they have long gone. Better to walk in a east north east direction and look for the clearing and fence posts. There are several mounds in the area which are forestry and field clearance mounds.

This is an extremely lovely and very calming site which was just as well. The next couple of sites were to be a trial of strength and endurance.

Visited 28/7/2016.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
13th September 2016ce

Parc Le Breos (Long Cairn)

It's been a decade since my first and only time here, and only the fact that the Swaynes howe chambers on Rossilli down were lost in drizzle and low cloud brings me back now. But that's not to say that the place isn't worthy of a second visit, it very much is, just that I was on the Gower trying to get to places I'd neglected on my other trip here.
So with a spare half hour the road sign of Park Le Breos couldn't be ignored.
It was a beautiful day yesterday but today it just rained all the time, which is weird because that was the weather I got ten years ago too, some things never change. The chambered cairn hasn't changed either, it's still crumpled at one corner, still full of water and still it's all to myself. I wondered whether my waiting daughter would mind if I went off looking for the cave, I decided she would mind so I made do with a short walk round it in the woods, peeking through the trees making my own silly Silbury game, coooeee.
postman Posted by postman
11th September 2016ce

The Cochno Stone (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

No digging today , it wasn't raining , but did find a new previously unrecorded find nearby tiompan Posted by tiompan
10th September 2016ce
Edited 11th September 2016ce

Maen Ceti (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

The day had started off grey and full of drizzle, the drive down here had been one of concerned skyward glances, but there was no need, this isn't the north where it's purportedly "grim", this is the south, the deep south, almost as far south as you can go without going to England, and you don't want that.
The sun had shone all day long, which had gone a long way to salve my failed attempt at Paviland cave, but it had done nothing to boost my spirits after the abominable hedges of Samson's Jack, I decided that sunset at a burial chamber was what the day needed to finish it off.
Maen Ceti won out over the Swaynes Howe chambers, it's much less of a walk and with a teenager in tow who's moods swing further apart than heaven and hell, it was an easy decision, there's always tomorrow, after a zoo and the cave part two maybe.
I parked in the moonscape car park south of the big stone, some people were in front of us so we gave them a few minutes head start before starting our preamble across the moor, as per the new stone visiting rule book.
Standing beside the Maen Ceti is a belittling experience, it's like, really big, big enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Silbury and Stonehenge, but it was once bigger, in many pictures you can see the two large pieces that came off one side, when they broke off the whole rock lost its equilibrium and shifted slightly on it's orthostats. The orthostats number is nine and they section off the under side of the stone into two chambers, which is now partly exposed due to the broken capstone. Causes of the broken stone range from ice acting in a crack, lightning and struck by a saint with a sword, or all three.
Standing on top you can see the Great cairn.
The underside of the Arthur's stone usually has a puddle underneath it, it's usual enough for some to have called it a spring, doubtful as its all dry right now, so I squat like a frog and waddle round under it reveling in it's dryness.
The site was just as I remembered it, no smaller no bigger, it's the right colour and the right distance from the road, but what I couldn't appreciate from my other time here was the view to the sea west and north, it was all hidden by a thin mist, but its lovely and clear right now, which is nice, I wonder if it'll last til tomorrow.
postman Posted by postman
10th September 2016ce

Easter Clunes (Cairn(s))

This cairn is slightly to the west, a short walk of about 200 meters, and is in the same field as its near neighbour. Large stones looking suspiciously like they once stood are strewn around the edge of the cairn which has seen, sadly, a tremendous amount of damage. Apart from the large stones the cairn must have been at least 16 meters in width with the height difficult to judge due field clearance being flung into the houked centre.

Visited 28/7/2016.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
9th September 2016ce

Easter Clune (Ring Cairn)

Heading west from Forres on the A96 I took the third minor road heading southwards in the direction of Moyness, home to wonderful cairn situated near the crossroads. From here keep heading south west until the road ends. At the junction head east towards Easter Clune. I stopped at Easter Clunes cottage. From here follow the track west over a gate and keep going until 2 gates can be seen. Climb these and both cairns can be seen. I headed south first to the ring/clava cairn.

The cairn must be at least 22 meters wide with some huge kerbs surrounding it. What appears to an inner ring al so exists but this might well be pure luck. Several holes are probably were cists had been, these are quite easily found by falling into them. At its highest it is 1 meter tall but houking has obviously affected this. Still the cairn has presence and must have been massive in its day.

From the direction I arrived I couldn't see the cairn but on heading back home, in a somewhat bedraggled state, from the west this cairn could be seen for miles.

Visited 28/7/2016.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
9th September 2016ce

Taversoe Tuick (Chambered Tomb)

Entering the enclosure the second thing I noticed after the cairn itself was a shallow trench all around the ege of the mound, and outside that a lot of stones of decent size. Canmore says "bounded by a wall-face of horizontally laid stones. Surrounding the cairn is a spread of loose flat stones forming a sort of platform. An alley, clear of stones, led through it up to the W edge of the cairn". Alley past tense. Before tackling the mound I investigated the other piece of the puzzle. This now has an angled metal door that swings out. This is where a fold-out screen comes in useful, sitting down on the horizontal stone and sticking the camera inside on wide angle. Then up to the main prize. I was very careful with the ladder in the cairn, starting face forward at the start, and the space between the rungs is over-large so that it would be all too easy for the whole leg to slip between them - I would have preferred to have someone with me just in case ! wideford Posted by wideford
6th September 2016ce

Samson's Jack (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Everyone who's been here and left notes have mentioned that it's not entirely visible, but why didn't it piss them off, there's not even a hint of annoyance with the farmers of localness.
I parked as humbly as possible by the farm/footpath entrance, left daughter in the car and walked away. Ive seen the photos from the wrong side of the hedge, Ive also seen Bladups pictures from the right side of the hedge on the Portal. I was adamant that I too would be on the right side of the hedge so I tried to go left of the fence, only to pass a burly farm hand who obligingly put me on the right path, what a bastard.
Anyway there'll be another place to get over i'm sure, you cant keep a good man down, or on the wrong side of the fence. Two fields later and i'm stood next to the stone, and totally non plussed as to why a footpath would run right past a big famous standing stone and then have no provision for viewing the stone. It made me dead angry.
I walked past the stone north-ish towards the house to see if I could get into the next field, no go that way, the only way to get on the other side is back at the beginning. But even if you could get the west side of the hedge you'd be so far away from the stone that another hedge would be in the way. Looking at thesweetcheats pictures the hedge was considerably lower then, I might have been more able to get across, by standing on the gate and jumping for it, but not now with the high summer growth. The farmers have done this to us on purpose i'm positive, all it would take is a bit of shearing and a couple of planks to get over the double fence filled with an intense hedge. It's what I would do. But who am I? no one, that's who.
postman Posted by postman
4th September 2016ce

Holm of Papa Westray (Chambered Tomb)

Visited 13th June 20016

There are some places that you want to visit for so long that getting there becomes akin to a pilgrimage. Holm of Papay was one of those sites that took on an almost mythic quality for me. I’d figured that out of everywhere in Mr Cope’s big orange book, this would be one of the most difficult places to get to. I spend a lot of time on Orkney, but even from there it seems impossibly remote, and from the mainland a trip involves a jaunt on a number of ever smaller boat trips, like a matryoshka of ferries.

But today the stars are aligned, and we are standing under glorious sunshine outside the Co-op on Papay, looking down to sea, the holm dominating our view, with the distinctive green lump of the cairn unmistakable due to the curious chimney like structure poking out of the top.

Inside the Co-op a handy poster advertises trips to the Holm with a contact number to call, and an enquiry with the lady at the shop (whilst perusing the rather good selection of single malts) suggests that I first contact the Papay Ranger to see if anything can be arranged and she gives me his number. Outside I can just about get a mobile phone signal and eagerly enquire as to when it would be possible to get over to the Holm, ‘Well’, comes the reply, ‘I’m not sure whether anyone is heading over there today, and I’m not around this afternoon otherwise I’d take you over’, instantly my heart sank, with the reality that perhaps I should actually have tried to arrange things before coming over to Papay and expecting to automatically get a boat to the Holm, the luxury of being able to regularly hop onto ferries to pop over to the other islands having blinded me to this fact. ‘Leave it with me’, says the friendly neighbourhood Ranger, and I’ll phone Tim the boatman and see if he’s about’.

So with some hope restored we walk down to the shore, just to be tantalised further by the cairn smugly filling our view, across an achingly narrow gap of water. I’ve been in this position before, when we visited Shetland we tried to get across to Mousa broch, but the weather was so windy during our stay (what a surprise!) that all boats were cancelled, and we had to content ourselves with staring wistfully at the nearby object our quest. Today the sun sparkles off the sea and there is so little wind that for Orkney it may as well be dead calm, and to be prevented from a visit by my own lack of forethought would be the final irony. We daren’t wander too far away, as the vagaries of the phone reception means that the signal bars on my phone are flashing on and off like a strobe light. We decide to head back up to the Co-op, feeling a bit in limbo, but at least there we know we can receive calls.

It isn’t too long before the Ranger calls back, to tell me that Tim is going over to the Holm later to shear some sheep, so to head down to the pier at the allotted time and we could come along.

We have a wander around Papay for a couple of hours while we wait for our trip before making our way to the pier. Moored at the end is a small boat, The Dunter, looking like a mini landing craft, with around eight seats and a small ramp at the front, and soon a lady accompanied by a sheep dog turns up and introduces herself as Tim’s partner, and we chat amiably for a few minutes until Tim turns up accompanied by his son and daughter, also here to help with the shearing.

We clamber down some very sleep and slippery steps at the end of the jetty, and step into the boat, doing our best not to plunge into the water, and then donning life jackets we set off! The crossing is a short but exciting one, the small size of the boat makes you feel very close to the water, as small waves slap against the bow spraying us all with salt water, and Tangle the sheepdog stands at the prow like a figurehead. We pass close to seals hauled out on the skerries, who regard us curiously, and Tim slows the boat to give us a better look, also pointing out gannets, terns and eider ducks as we pass them.

Nearing the beach the chambered tomb looms ahead of us, looking longer than anything else I’ve seen on Orkney (save for Midhowe, concealed within its shed), and as the boat grounds on the sand and the front ramp is lowered we step gingerly through the brine onto the island.

At first it’s hard to believe I’m actually here. Tim and family head off to a ruined shieling along the coast, and we are left alone, with just the sea birds wheeling overhead. Trekking up the short distance to the tomb we get fine views out to sea, the water deep ultramarine around us, and Papay and Westray both visible behind . The original low entrance on the east side of the tomb is now blocked to access, instead relying on ingress through a ladder from the roof. Atop the mound I’m surprised to see the brick ‘chimney’ structure, so visible on the tombs profile, is actually just a plinth for an information board! It strikes me as somewhat bizarre that wasn’t placed at ground level set back form the tomb itself, rather than going for the silhouette of a submarine look, but I suppose the roof isn’t original anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

Hauling open the hatch I’m into the tomb like a rat down a drainpipe, and in the cool dim interior I drink it all in. It’s lot lighter than I was expecting, several skylights providing a good level of illumination, but just in case, tucked onto a ledge, is the good old municipal torch, so beloved of sites in Orkney. Also though just like the vast majority of such civically provided accessories the batteries have run out. I ponder on whose job it would be to change them, and whether there is a position vacant within Orkney Islands Council for a Chambered Tomb Torch Maintenance Operator (if so can I put in my application now please). Rather more helpfully there are also several rolled up sleeping mats, not for those who fancy overnighting in the tomb, but to lay on the gravelly floor in order to enable you to crawl into the very low side cells within suffering multiple puncture wounds.

The plastic sheeting mentioned in the Fear’s fieldnotes is nowhere to be seen, but it’s still a little damp in here, and once again I’m disappointed to see that a build-up of green algal growth is starting to accumulate on the stones, a sight seen across all of the concrete topped chambered tombs in Orkney. It’s doubly tragic here, where it makes the unique carvings found within the tomb all that much harder to make out, and I wish the roof had been re-constructed in dry stone instead. I’m not too disheartened though for this place is still amazing!

There are seemingly endless chambers to explore, and with my phone’s flashlight in hand I inch into the low openings to several of them on my back, the mats definitely proving their worth. As I shine the light around inside the dark side cells, scanning for carvings, shadows fleeing across the walls, all of my Indiana Jones fantasies come to life and I’m elated. Scurrying from one chamber to another (there are 12 to choose from) I try to pick out any patterns or carvings amid the slimy green film covering the walls. It’s then I find it, the unmistakable ‘eyebrows’, along with some cup-marks on a lintel of one of the side chambers. There are also hatched, vaguely diamond shaped scratches into the stone, visually reminiscent of some of the carved stones recovered from the Links of Noltland that we saw in the visitors centre on Westray a few days ago.

We end up spending some considerable time in the tomb, its light and roomy interior making it a pleasant place to spend a while (if you’re into ancient burial sites that is), but with always half an eye on the clock, we know there is still a plane to catch back to Kirkwall later, and we will need to go and find Tim to interrupt him from his shearing before he can take us back, so regretfully it soon becomes time to leave.

I hope to try and catch a glimpse of the remains of other two chambered tombs as we walk across the island, but the large cleft of a geo cutting across our path on the way to forces us to backtrack and there’s just not time.

Before long we’re climbing back aboard The Dunter, on our way back to Papay. The trip to the Holm has cost £25 each, the flights from Kirkwall another £35, but the experience is priceless.

I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who gets a thrill out of these ancient places, and more than likely you’ll have the island to yourself! My one tip would be to plan the trip way in advance though. Luckily everything fell into place for us, and although the whims of the Orkney weather are not something you can plan on you can at least check things out with the Papay Ranger (he’s on Facebook) or phone 01857 644224, you won't regret it!
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
4th September 2016ce

Paviland Cave (Cave / Rock Shelter)

After seeing this place on TV a few years ago I checked to see if anyone had been there from on this website, they hadn't, there was only Kammers implement pictures, so I thought Id quite like to be the first to post some on site pictures. Gladmans first visit failed to get there, and I was just about to start seriously thinking about getting to this hard to get to cave when thesweetcheat got there first. Winning the cave race. Blown it, taking to long to get somewhere other than North Wales, then Gladman won his round two, but only just and then Carl went and said his piece. So, far from being the first to get somewhere awesome to share with folk, which I like, i'm fourth, it'll do.
2nd September.
I thought I'd be a clever boy and check out the tide timetable, low tide 3pm, cool.
As I've said elsewhere I've managed to pry my daughter loose from her bedroom and WiFi, she followed me now along the footpath, it was luckily quite warm and sunny, which is not how the day started. After crossing five fields we get to the coastal path, I note above and to the right of us is a cliff top promontory fort, ignored, we carry on following the wall down towards the sea, footing gets more uncertain under scree and wet grass, especially for those among us that think going to the corner shop is a noteworthy expedition.
I can hear the sea now and tensions are rising, but something is wrong with the sea, besides being cold and wet, it's not out. I tell Phil to sit here in the sun and wait for me while I go down to the shore and see what I can see. The rocks going down to the sea are a major hazard, sharp, hard and twisted full of holes, if you slip and crack your head here you may never get back up again. The sea has definitely cut me off from the prize, I get as close to a photo of it as possible, admit defeat for now, collect my progeny and whisk her away up to the second prize fort.
Later that day I ask at the campsite for tide times tomorrow, the young fellow me lad, gave me the time of 2pm. I now rewrite tomorrows plans around being back on that beach for 2pm.
3rd September.
In the morning we went to a very wet little zoo near Tenby, not only was Jason Bourne and Scarlett Johansson not there, but the animals seemed to have gone on holiday too.
We raced back to Gower, at 2.10pm I was on my way back across the five fields, sans daughter, it was raining and shes already walked ten times further than her monthly allowance. On my own I was much quicker, I had my fingers crossed for most of the walk. Back on the beach I can see sand, you need to see sand, no sand = no cave.
I daintily and carefully slip and slide down onto the beach, I cant mention "the beach" without thinking about war films.
Sand underfoot I turn to the sea and give it the V's with both hands, you wont see that on Saving private Brian, whilst hoping in turn that it wont jinx me into staying too long and having to embarrassingly wade back.
Onward and upwards, another short scramble up improbable rocks and i'm standing on the threshold of the most famous cave in Britain. I enter the cave shaking after all the climbing, sweating profusely, it's warm out but raining and i'm all proofed up. It's impossible to photograph the cave in this condition so I sit and have a smoke for five minutes. In the back of my mind is the retreating tide, it's been coming in all the time I've been here so I must be vigilant. At the forefront of my mind is the incredible span of time since the interment to now, all the changes to the landscape and to the mind of man, it's just staggering.
I don't even think about climbing up to the smaller cave/chimney, its wet and slippery and my big walking boots aren't made for rock climbing, and i'm on my own with no cell reception.
One odd thing, at the entrance to the cave is a quartz seam running down one wall across the floor and up the other side. I wondered how long people had a special attachment to quartz, what if it goes back this far in time, what if they chose this cave because of it, did it keep away bad spirits, did it ensure the dead a safe passage to where ever, did it purify those entering the cave , who knows, anyway, I thought it odd.
But it's time to go, probably, I stand once more on the beach, turning to the sea I appreciate and acknowledge a worthy opponent, by sticking out my tongue and blowing hard, with that I humbly accept fourth place and quit the beach.
postman Posted by postman
4th September 2016ce

Imber (Round Barrow(s))

This is just south of the road from Warminster to the lost village of Imber. It is either a twin barrow or two contiguous barrows and is part of a group of five following the ridge line. It's national monument number is 10100, and is on the restricted firing range on Salisbury plain. formicaant Posted by formicaant
4th September 2016ce

Penmaen (Burial Chamber)

I've never been here before, I've only been to the Gower peninsula for a couple of hours stone spotting and that was ten years ago, the return was long overdue. So we are here for one more camp of the summer, with my 17 yr old daughter, who is far more comfortable at home with wi-fi than tramping round endless fields with her graying father. Nevertheless I have pried her out of the house which is nearly as good as seeing stones itself.
I parked in the only carpark on the main road through Penmaen, passed through the gate, walked down a concreted path, through another gate, ignore first right turn, that will take you to the beach. Then when the concrete runs out look for a very ruined chapel on the left with a right hand turn opposite it. Go down right hand turn and the burial chamber is twenty yards hence.
Quite easy to find if you ignore the first right turn.
This site has been in my sights for ten years, and it's good to finally scratch that itch, but I didn't feel much for the site, no magical vibes, no deep insights, just another minor league ruined burial chamber, unless they clear the sand and brush to reveal more I can think of no reason ever to come back. Sorry, but my mind is on some other site, not the camp site were off to next to pitch our tent, but a rather special little place close to the sea, very close indeed.
postman Posted by postman
4th September 2016ce

Knowe of Yarso (Chambered Cairn)

Just to emphasise it is a really steep climb, a very windy narrow path i places a foot wide. And when it levels out coming to the cairn there is a near vertical drop on the left, so not advisable if the wind is high wideford Posted by wideford
3rd September 2016ce

Blue Cairn (Califer) (Cairn(s))

The Blue Cairn near Califer is surrounded on its north side by a semi circular dry stane dyke and to the south by vegetation of any kind especially ferns. It was good fun clambering over the dyke and having a fight with the jabby stuff. Rowan trees mark the middle of this much tampered with cairn. The centre of the cairn has been houked and kerbs can be found at the bottom of the wall. canmore say its 16 meters wide and 1 meter tall. That is optimistic as all that is left is a small remnant. No trace of cist can be seen. Still like any other any other ancient monument it was built for a reason and the Bronze Age peoples chose a lovely place. Views over to the Black Isle, Moray Firth, hills to the south and to the west are wonderful. I tried looking for the possible cup marked stone but didn't see anything. Round the corner is Blervie Castle and just down from that is the stone circle at Templestones.

Take the third minor road south, west after the village of Alves on the A96 heading towards Inverness. Follow the road until it veers suddenly west and at the corner pull in. Walk down the field in front and the semi circular dyke soon comes into view. Just along the road is the superb viewpoint at Califer.

Visited 28/7/2016.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd September 2016ce

The Rollright Stones (Stone Circle)

Visited (again) 29.8.16

It's funny how sometimes fate lends a hand and you end up being back at a place a lot sooner than expected!

Following an overnight stop in Northamptonshire (to visit a couple of English Heritage sites) I had planned to take a different route home but fate (or my poor map reading!) led us past the Rollright Stones again.

Dafydd was happy with this as he stayed in the car yesterday as he was having a bit of a 'temper tantrum'. Once he had calmed down he really wanted to see the circle but by them we were miles away heading north.

This time we first crossed the road to see the Kings Stone (I told him the story) and then back to the stone circle. Luck was on our side again as most people were either on their way back to their cars or heading over to the Whispering Knights. There were only a couple of people at the circle. I showed Dafydd the entrance and we walked anti-clockwise around the circle (why do I always seem to go anti-clockwise when walking around a stone circle?)

The sun was still shining and despite a few more fluffy white clouds in evidence the weather was even warmer than yesterday. The added bonus was there was no 'boom, boom, boom' to be heard! Wlaking around I spotted many coins pushed into various holes and several ribbons tied to the branches of nearby trees.

It was an unexpected treat to be back so soon. It goes to show - you never kniow................. :)
Posted by CARL
30th August 2016ce

Dun Gerashader (Stone Fort / Dun)

Visited: August 22, 2016

To visit Dùn Gerashader take the A855 north out of Portree for just over a kilometre and park your vehicle immediately before the turn off to Torvaig. Do not scale the barbed wire fence. Walk up to the junction, turn right over the bridge and, 100 metres on, a gate to the right provides access to gentle grassy slopes that lead to the base of the rise bearing the fort. There is a small stream to cross (stepping stones) followed by a steepish rise to Gerashader.

I contoured left on the ascent and was amazed when I reached the southern defences of the fort: three rows of simply huge blocks, described by Canmore as 'the remains of 3 lines of obstructions', arranged like rows of dentures, each one about a metre wide and 1½ metres or more in height. The mind boggles to understand how, two millennia ago, men could locate such stones and move them uphill into place. Above these is the tumbled southern wall, some four metres broad.

Beyond this rocky rampart is the relatively level grassy interior, dotted with stones that have probably tumbled from the much higher wall on the north rim of the hill, and beyond that, on a rise, the wide northern wall of the fort. Though much tumbled, stretches of the original masonry courses are still evident.
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
29th August 2016ce
Edited 3rd September 2016ce

Dun Grianan (Tote) (Stone Fort / Dun)

Visited: August 22, 2016

Not to be confused with the broch of the same name at Loch Mealt, Dun Grianan south of Inver Tote on the east coast of Trotternish is a dilapidated fort.

The starting point for a visit is the large car-park beside the Lealt Gorge at Inver Tote. Follow the road south, across the bridge, for 250 metres, where a gate on the left leads on to the old road serving the tiny community of Lower Tote. Head to the right and follow this road for 190 metres, when you will encounter sheep pens on your left. Immediately before these pens, a well defined path heads east (left) to a gate, beyond which a walkers' path heads on to the coast.

Once above the clifftops, head south (right) following a path parallel with the fence and after less than 1½ kilometres from the car-park, you reach Dun Grianan.

Dun Grianan stood on the flat top of a knoll close to the cliff edge and was protected by a wall, 31 metres long, on its western flank. Today only a scattering of facing stones remain, but the entrance, about mid way along the wall, is well defined, 1.6 metres wide and flanked on each side by set stones. The grassy summit is unexpectedly narrow, and Canmore suggests that the eastern side of the fort has fallen away
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
29th August 2016ce

The Rollright Stones (Stone Circle)

Visited 28.8.16

Only two years since my last visit? Seems longer.
Some sites have that affect.
The more I visit the Rollrights the more I like them.

The sun was shining brightly and there was not a breath of wind. It was very warm as I approached the gate. Luckily a coach load of American tourists were just leaving so when I got to the circle there was only a couple of people there. Luck was certainly with me as they too shortly left and I managed to have the circle to myself for about 5 minutes.

The surrounding fields had been harvested and in the distance the sun painted pretty patches of light and shadows across the fields. All was picture perfect.

The only thing to spoil the occasion was some muppet in the lay by who obviously thought everyone wanted to hear his/her 'boom, boom, boom' type of music blasting from his/her car. Grrrr.

All too soon other people arrived so I headed back to the car and away from the 'boom, boom, boom'. Hopefully things will me more tranquil and atmospheric on my next visit - whenever that is?

If you have never visited the Rollrights, make sure it is somewhere near the top of your 'to do' list.
Posted by CARL
29th August 2016ce

Churchill Three Stones (Standing Stones)

Visited 28.8.16

Near the sign for 'The Old Rectory' at the start of the lane as previously described by others.

Since the photos were taken the stones have become completely overgrown with ivy and several large bushes are soon to swallow them up. Despite knowing about the stones and where to find them (thanks Jane) I still managed to walk past them 3 times before spotting them! I fear that in a few years you won't be able to see them at all - unless someone comes along with a sharp pair of shears!
Posted by CARL
29th August 2016ce
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