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

Carn Ban



I guess it's something of an irony that such a massive - apparently unexcavated (?) - cairn, overlooking one of the UK's premier concentrations of prehistoric monuments, should have slumbered in TMA obscurity thus far - Greywether's tantalising zoomed image notwithstanding. But there you are. The site has been on my list for years; however I always seemed to drive on past. As you do. To be fair, there is much else to see 'round-abouts, particularly within Kilmartin Glen itself. Tell me about it.

This year, however, I find myself in Carnassarie Castle car park struggling into waterproofs in order to meet the challenge of lashing rain, precipitation which has seen fit to give Argyll a fair old pounding this afternoon, a few curious/bemused tourists looking on with a combination of pity/concern from within the sanctuary of their own vehicles. I follow the path to the castle - well worth a visit by the looks of it, I'd say - before carrying on toward Carnassarie Farm. As I approach a lady emerges from the farm house. But no need to fret... Gladman isn't in for yet another tongue lashing. Quite the contrary, in fact. Yeah, it transpires she thinks I'm one of the frequent visitors who try to locate the nearby rock art unencumbered by any map reading skills... and is therefore, by all accounts, pleasantly surprised when I tell her I'm heading for Carn Ban.... if that's OK? It is. The monument resides upon the well defined ridge rising straight ahead and requires quite a stiff, albeit short, climb. It is worth it, however. Carn Ban is a classic upland cairn of considerable dimensions, measuring (according to Canmore):

'20m in diameter and over 3m in height with intermittent kerbstones in position throughout its perimeter. The height of the cairn is accentuated by the incorporation of natural outcrops, some of which protrude on the W, and it is now surmounted by a modern cairn. [RCAHMS 1988, visited June 1982]'

As I arrive a further storm front blasts down the glen to give way, in ten minutes or so, to blue skies. Crazy, wonderful weather indeed. Such light, such an sublime sensation of 'freshness', the very atmosphere 'washed clean'. The views to be enjoyed from the summit of the cairn are equally exquisite, none more so than that toward Kilmartin Glen itself to the south(ish). Mind you the excellent, hillfort-crowned Creag a' Chapuill is also notable, rising beyond the A816 to the approx north-east. I guess I need to undertake more fieldwork - what a drag - to ascertain just how visible Carn Ban is from the more popular monuments within the Glen. However my impressions from up here are that Carn Ban was sited to 'see' rather than be seen, set back from the southern edge of the ridge, yet possessing an unrestricted view of the landscape beyond. Just keeping an 'eye on things', you understand?

Yeah, as I sit and ponder I reckon Carn Ban might possibly be the most important piece of the Kilmartin jigsaw. Only the thought of a visit to the wondrous Brainport alignment drags me away whilst daylight remains.
9th August 2013ce
Edited 9th August 2013ce

Comments (4)

The castle is well worth a visit Mr G - as is the Cairn by the sounds of it! Posted by CARL
9th August 2013ce
Good stuff, definitely a serious looking cairn.

"Carn Ban was sited to 'see' rather than be seen, set back from the southern edge of the ridge, yet possessing an unrestricted view of the landscape beyond."

I've noticed that at nearly all of the Rhondda Fawr cairns I've been to over the last couple of months. All have great views of the other hills, very few look down to (or can be seen from) the valleys.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
9th August 2013ce
I sometimes wonder what the Rhondda must have looked like before the need for coal. No different to some of the valleys in the National Park.

Carn Ban blew me away, though.
10th August 2013ce
It's still beautiful, if you ignore the valley bottom. The hills are quiet and rather stunning, although the biggest on-shore windfarm in the country is taking over quite quickly. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
10th August 2013ce
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