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Scottish Megarak Meet report - 9th Feb 2003

Eleven o’clock opposite the telephone box in the collection of houses known as Lintrathen and the place was busier than it had been in years. A collection of cars disgorged a few of the usual suspects plus a couple of new faces. Irene, Nick, ScottY and Debs, and Paul were joined by Jean and George, plus Lindsay, whose father farms the land Brankam Hill stands on. Jean proved she was no novice by displaying her pudding spoon, and a lady dragged a couple of the obligatory spaniels past – it was going to be one of those days. We piled into a couple of the cars and drove the two miles to Purgavie, where there was space to park. On with a selection of heavy-duty footwear and across the empty neep fields we trekked, on a very bright morning. The sun was shining and though there was still a nip in the air, it was an amusing jaunt with much discussion of things megalithic and antiquarian… and the occasional snowball fight.

A slow climb up the base of Brankam Hill ensued, and an examination of what is either a ruined cairn or the most carelessly placed field clearance we have ever seen – and then on to what ScottY claimed may have been a footprint on a rock. Unconvinced, we all tried our feet in it and decided that whatever it might have been a footprint of, it definitely wasn’t human. No marks for that theory, then! Up and over on to the summit, and things became more interesting. A very large erratic with no markings gave us an excuse to appreciate the views, then we headed off in an easterly direction to wander round a few small barrows, some hut circles, a few kerb cairns and the world’s smallest four-poster. A lot of time was spent here in rumination about the ‘busyness’ of this wee area, especially when combined with Strone Hill next door and Torrax below. This must have been a fairly well-populated region in ancient times!

Things had been too sensible for too long, and ScottY now used a cup-marked rock to demonstrate his latest lunatic theory. Cup marks are obviously, he said, for neolithic man to hold dips in. And promptly proceeded to demonstrate with a small container of a rather tasty salsa dip. Hmmm… we inserted various edible items, tried it out… and concluded that for the first time in ages, he might just have got it right. We intend to visit Kilmartin soon with a wide and varied selection of dips and dipsticks, to try it out further…

The slight chill in the wind and the nibbles brought on some serious hunger pangs, which Irene managed to fend off by mysteriously producing several dozen doughnuts from an exceedingly small bag. These were munched in unison, while we meandered around examining likely looking hummocks and stones. Irene managed to discover something awful that we won’t go into here, and without a graveyard in sight… Then on round the north side of the hill, where there isn’t much apart from some great views of the loch. Again, some daft theories were discussed and dismissed, along with their various creators. Down the hill, across the neep fields, and back to the cars.

Down to serious business. Soup, rolls and puddings! Knowing how these things go, I had lugged along a sufficient supply of plates and spoons for everyone to sample the sundry ‘winter fruit trifles’ which had by now appeared from the hamper. Washed down with tea and/or chocolate milk, it was time to say cheerio to Paul and Lindsay, who both had previous engagements. The rest of us headed down towards Airlie and thence to Philpie. Here we entered a field of horses, so we could properly appreciate the little-known Cuddy Stanes Circle, and Irene could spend some time leading her new found friends around for a bit of exercise. Bidding them farewell, we then crossed the road and a couple of fields to view the Philpie stones, an unevenly matched pair, appropriately enough divided by a telegraph pole, giving ScottY yet another reason to hold forth on one of his dearest conspiracy theories.

We split up again after this, ScottY and Debs headed off and the rest of us drove back to Lintrathen to pick up the rest of the cars. George was last seen headed for Peathaugh wood to track down an elusive stone arrangement hidden deep in the pines, Jean and Irene headed Perth-wards and I trundled back to Dundee, to have a look at the photos and compose the trip log…

An excellent day out in good company, spaniels, horses, puddings, and full access to an absolutely fascinating site! It doesn’t get much better, really.

Brankam Hill — Fieldnotes

This hill really has to be seen to be believed! The Scottish Megaraks visited it on 9th February 2003 having been lucky enough to get the farmer's permission (ScottY knows his daughter), and it is a real megalithic feast - prehistoric barrows, cairns, kerb cairns, hut circles, house platforms, four-posters and a cup marked rock.

There are multiple entries for all of these in Canmore, but the site has not been properly surveyed or excavated. That's a great pity, as I feel that a lot more could be learned about this area. Strone Hill, which lies just to the NW of Brankam, also has a large amount of sites, and there are many others very close by - Meikle Kenny, Auldallan and Pitmudie, to name but a few.

Brankam Hill — Images

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Philpie — Fieldnotes

Close by the village of Airlie, off the A926 from Alyth, a small road runs north. About 300m up, a gate blocks access to an old quarry. Enter here and walk heading due east, over fairly stony ground and a couple of old fences, until an old stone hut is encountered. Just past this you will see a telegraph pole, and the stones are located either side of this. There are many other smaller stones around, as there is an abandoned quarry just north of them. These stones are unremarkable, with no visible cup or ring marks. Interestingly, however, they lie on an ESE axis, at the eastern end of an almost perfect line between the Shanzie stone with the Bruceton stone almost exactly in between. The hillside where the Shanzie stone is located is clearly visible, but Bruceton is in a hollow and is hidden.

Revisited 9/2/03, two more images added.

Philpie — Images

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9th February 2003ce
Edited 10th February 2003ce

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