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

Carn Liath, Strath of Kildonan



Let's face it.... an area would have to be pretty special - from an archaeological perspective, at least - for this particular 'Grey Cairn' (needless to say Scotland has numerous others) to feature as nothing out of the ordinary.... par for the course, so to speak. In retrospect I guess that tells me all I need to know about the relative merits of Strath of Kildonan, a veritable megalithic cornucopia, if ever I did experience one?

Situated upon the lower, south-western slopes of Craig Halligarry (this mini-height featuring rock art and hut circles, no less) the cairn is consequently denied the sweeping, elevated views accorded a significant number of the other dramatis personae in the extended vicinity. Nevertheless the location, overlooking the northern bank of the River Helmsdale with Ben Uarie looming upon the skyline, whilst not breath taking is certainly aesthetically pleasing, albeit in a somewhat archetypal, uncompromising northern Scottish manner.

The monument, although damaged upon the north-eastern arc - one assumes by quarrying - is substantial. According to an Ordnance Survey estimation back in 1976 it "would have been about 17.0m diameter, and, at present, is 1.5m high." [JM]. Yeah, anywhere else but here Carn Liath would surely be a headline act? As it is.. it represents an understated perch upon which to pause and review; to take stock of the frankly overwhelming volume of treasures to be experienced travelling the A897. To once again see the cairns for the stones.

Is it chambered? The OS didn't believe so, back in the day. However a couple of stones rising through and above the summit of the cairn suggest otherwise. Let's say it is, in my opinion, certainly a 'possible'. There are further uprights standing a little distance to the north-west, perhaps related to what I assume to be a field boundary? Then again could they be associated with the monument? Whatever the truth of the matter Carn Liath is certainly worthy of a stop-over on the way to more spectacularly positioned sites.
25th July 2015ce
Edited 25th July 2015ce

Comments (2)

I'm enjoying reading your notes for the various sites along the strath very much Gladman. A special place. thelonious Posted by thelonious
25th July 2015ce
Thanks. Popped into Kilmartin again this year so thought I'd better write up my notes from last year first. Kildonan really is something else, is it not? Clearly very underrated. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
26th July 2015ce
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