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

Achaoh A'Chuirn

Chambered Cairn


Funnily enough it's more-or-less 200 years since that little preening, gobshite Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte, came to a field near another Waterloo and saw his imperial power base sink forever in Belgian mud stained red with blood. Not surprisingly I've no plans to build an empire of my own; instead finding myself rather more interested in furthering my ongoing stony destiny at this Inner Hebridean Waterloo - or Achadh a'Chuirn, should you prefer the vernacular... which I do.

The linear hamlet occupies the western base of the Ardnish peninsular forming the eastern flank of Broadford Bay... albeit a bit of a gloriously wonky one. The dwellings of its inhabitants stand to the landward of a single road skirting water's edge, this terminating at Rubh' Achadh a'Chuirn and proferring a magnificently iconic view of Beinn na Caillich rising above Broadford.. as well as the site of another, massive chambered cairn immediately across the water at Liveras. It is possible to leave a car or two in strategically placed laybys here without inconveniencing the locals. I leave my vehicle in one such before heading approx north to, quite literally, the end of the road. My plan is to head to the right and subsequently double back southwards behind the settlement to (hopefully) locate the chambered cairn in its own, enclosed crofter's strip field.

Needless to say the execution of said plan was not supposed to feature stepping knee deep into bog on two separate occasions (like a prize muppet), my reward for such privations to eventually locate the monument behind serious barbed wire... not to mention in full view of the gauntly staring windows of the adjacent house. Now I've never actually been diagnosed with Scopophobia - assuming that is a possibility? - but nevertheless decide to retrace my steps (further encouraged to do so by the cacophony made by nearby horrible hounds) and - unlike the emperor with the dodgy hat - retreat to fight another day. In a manner of speaking.

Anyway, in one of those bizarre coincidences that occasionally manifest themselves I discover that I have actually parked immediately in front of the required house, identified by a name plate as 'Geol na Maira'. I duly knock... only to find classical music emanating from an upstairs room repeatedly masking my exertions. That would be Brahms Third Racket, I believe? Boiling over with frustration, the proverbial 'one last try' thankfully alerts Fiona, the occupant, to my skulking presence. She's only too happy to grant me access to her 'back garden'.

The ground is churned to mud by livestock, which would be a problem if the monument was of earthen construction. However since it's a stone pile - and a bloody big one at that - I guess this is not an issue. Yeah, it has to be said that rather a lot of cairn still remains in situ, albeit somewhat imperfectly camouflaged with turf (see Carl's Misc entry for details). Furthermore, as surmised by the pros back in 1972, I can confirm that the monument most certainly possesses a chamber, as evidenced by a couple of small orthostats still in position. There are hints of more detail lying beneath the surface....

I sit and munch - a very belated - lunch as the watery sun plays hide 'n' seek with the fast moving cloudbase, so allowing washes of light to flood the monument and its immediate landscape whilst rain falls from darker skies above the bay. That'll be 'changeable' weather, then? Once again the curvaceous - or as Aldous Huxley would have perhaps said, 'pneumatic' - profile of Beinn na Caillich dominates the western skyline. I guess I'm probably biased, not least since the peak is blessed by the apparent tomb of "Saucy Sue"... to use the local moniker, as kindly volunteered by Fiona. However I really think the outlook from this monument is something special. Wonder satiated - well, at least for now - my thoughts are drawn to the dark patch of forestry visible below, and to the left, of the enigmatic mountain. That'll be where the Old Corry chambered cairns are located, then? Needless to say the itinerary for the rest of the day is sorted.

So, in the end I have my audience with Achadh a'Chuirn's great cairn. There is no Lion's Mound here as at that other Waterloo burned indelibly into European consciousness. But then, considering what I've found tucked away in this obscure croft strip of this small hamlet... I reckon Skye has got the better deal.
30th August 2015ce
Edited 31st August 2015ce

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