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

Carrachan Dubh, Inchnadamph

Chambered Cairn


So here I am at Inchnadamph (in Gaelic 'Innis nan Damh'... 'Meadow of the Stags)' at the southern end of Loch Assynt, apparently a veritable mecca for geologists during the last decades of the 19th Century owing to its strategic position upon the Moine Thrust Belt, this a linear fault in the Earth's crust stretching all the way from Loch Eriboll to Sleat, Isle of Skye. Which would explain the memorial to two such exalted gentlemen - Ben Peach and John Horne - sited a little north at NC24912221, then. Yeah, as I understand it this was the first such feature to be identified (as opposed to discovered) upon the planet, the lads' fieldwork crucial to resolving the apparent paradox of why strata of older rock happen to reside upon those of younger here in Scotland. In knowledge lies wisdom, eh, one assuming a certain Mr Darwin was following proceedings with interest at the time?

Despite - for me - the somewhat uncomfortable vibe of the Inchnadamph Hotel... too many expensive sports cars, not enough proper cars... there is a hint of time immemorial inherent in the locale, this no doubt coloured by the realisation that the bones of polar bears were found in the limestone caves nearby, presumably hibernating for much longer than intended, poor things? For ever. If anything this feeling is amplified - turn the dial to 11, man - as I leave the car park, cross the River Traligill and follow the stony track eastward to search out another chambered cairn depicted upon my ever more annotated map within Gleann Dubh. The track veers left to accompany the Allt Poll an Droighinn for a short distance prior to swinging south-east, whereby the monument is visible surmounting a rocky knoll near the confluence with the River Traligill, accessed via a very, er, idiosyncratic footbridge.

As with other such monuments in the area Carrachan Dubh is by no means a massive cairn, the OS citing "c.20.0m in diameter and 2.3m high [(EGC) 24 Apr 1961]"; nevertheless residual traces of a passage - and hence presumably a chamber still located within - remain in situ, primarily a prominent upright "1.4m long x 1.5m thick [OS (J M) 15 Aug 1963]" protruding from the summit and featuring some exquisite surface grain. There are a pair of smaller stones upon the approx south western arc, too.

So, all in all this is a fine, unprepossessing monument occupying a great spot within a wild glen bisected by rushing water. It would be difficult to wish for much more, to be fair. Unless a passing all powerful entity transcending the laws of physics could grant world peace... or the company of Gillian Anderson for the duration. Yeah, a great spot to sit and chill out for a while despite the unwelcome attentions of the midges which, although not on their best behaviour, are nonetheless manageable enough with a head net... so don't forget to pack one if coming in season.

The occasional walker passes by, head down, no doubt heading for Ben More Assynt. Aside from that the only apparent movement is the water making its way to Loch Assynt. No doubt there is much more than that, not least the bloody midges. However today my head is set to macro vision mode for a while before it is time to move on to the wondrous Cnoc Bad Na Cleithe.
10th January 2015ce
Edited 12th January 2015ce

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