|Don't ask me why, but I decided I was going to get up before dawn today, to try and take some "atmospheric" photos taking advantage of the early morning light.
Rudely awakened from a deep slumber at an ungodly hour by the radio, I was up and out by 7:30 and on my way with the trusty bike in the boot, after scraping the ice off the windscreen. I'd been hoping for a little low-lying mist to give the photos an "otherworldly" quality, but this was ridiculous! Visibility was down to about 100m as I drove up the A9, and as if I needed reminding that it was baltic outside, the windscreen began to freeze over again.
First stop was Pitnacree, which I've passed I don't know how many times without stopping, usually because of the problems associated with head-high nettles and wearing shorts. The mist had lifted a little after leaving the A9 at Ballinluig and heading west, so I was able to get some photos from across the road showing the small standing stone sitting atop the large round barrow, before going up for a closer look.
Back to the relative warmth of the car (and the sonic delights of Heartland FM) I trudged, the frosty grass crunching underfoot. And so it was on through Grandtully, following the Tay down past Lundin Farm, keeping watch for a space to park near Carn Tulach which I was going to visit on my way back. Through Aberfeldy, which was eerily quiet at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, and on past Croft Moraig and Newhall Bridge to Kenmore, where I stopped to take some photos at the head of Loch Tay. The waters were still, reflecting the autumn plumage of the surrounding wooded slopes and the hanging mists that encircled them.
Crossing the Tay, I turned up by Main of Taymouth to park at the forest car park on the edge of Drummond Hill, and assembled my bike with numb hands. I was now in search of the missing Comrie Bridge stone circle I'd been looking for last weekend. I thought I had a better idea this time of where it might be, and turned off the road onto the North Terrace track that follows the Tay. Spotting a lady walking her dog, I stopped to ask if she knew of any stones in the vicinity. She didn't, but mentioned that someone had previously been looking for an old well in the area, if that was any help. Fending off a hyperactive sheepdog with one hand, I showed her Coles' drawing of the circle with the other, but it didn't ring any bells, so I continued on my way, peering into rhodedendron bushes as I cycled back round to the road.
Feeling remarkably energetic for a time when I'm usually tucked up in bed, I climbed the muddy track up into the Peeler Gate section of the Drummond Hill forest for an hour's thrash on the mountain bike tracks, before descending once again to the road to head back to the car. On my way back, I noticed a suspicious-looking stone sitting in the centre of Kenmore golf course. I'd noticed it several times before, but hadn't thought about it on this trip. So I cycled round to the clubhouse, but it was closed for the winter. There was nothing for it, I'd have to speak to some golfers! The Scottish Megaraks had previously discovered on our mammoth June journey that golfers and megaraks are equally bemused by the others' hobby!
Pulling up to the first tee, the golfers looked at me as if I was something that had just climbed out of the loch. Of course it didn't cross my mind until I got back to the car and saw my reflection in the window that I DID look like something that had just climbed out of the loch, being as I was caked from head to toe in mud from the forest tracks! Anyway, the golfers didn't know of any stone circles near the golf course, and when I mentioned the stone on its own, it was described as "just a standy-uppy stone, not a standing stone". I wasn't convinced, and decided I'd come back once I've done a bit more research.
After defrosting my fingers around a cup of tea from my flask, I took my bike apart, put it back in the car, and re-traced my steps to and through Aberfeldy. As I came round the corner just before Carn Tulach, the space I'd earmarked earlier for parking was taken - with a couple of pick-ups full to the brim with tweeded gentlemen, shotguns over the shoulder. I decided that this was not the time to be rustling in the undergrowth nearby! And so I had to save his one for another day too.
On I went to Grandtully, parking beside the Tay just after I left the village. I crossed over the road, climbed the wall and fence with the aid of a telegraph pole, and headed into the fallow field in search of the Haugh of Grandtully stone. I'd scanned the fields from the road when I'd passed before, but had never seen the stone, so I was working from the map on this one. As I got closer to the old railway line, I spotted the stone in the neighbouring field, and went through the gate at the bottom. This stone's a wee beauty, with thick veins of quartz running through it. By this time the sun was burning brightly in the sky, silhouetting the peaks high above the Tay's flood plain to frame my photos of the stone.
After that, it was back to the car for the drive to sunny Stanley, home in time for lunch!
Directions - head N from Perth on the A9, and take the A827 (sign-posted Aberfeldy) at the Ballinluig junction. After about 5km you'll come to a junction having just crossed a bridge - turn right here (still sign-posted A827 Aberfeldy). Approximately 400m along this road you'll see a small muddy layby under the trees on the right-hand side of the road - park here. Walk on maybe 50m further towards Grandtully, and you'll see a wall seperating two fields across the road. If you look even further beyond this field, over the old railway line to the slope in the distance, you should see a house on the right, with another wall to the left of it. If you walk along the road until you're in line with the wall in the distance on the hill, then you'll see a telegraph pole close to the wall next to the road, and to the right of the closest field wall - this is the easiest place to cross into the field, as the wall has "footholds", the wire of the fence on top of it can be pushed down easily, and you have the telegraph pole to lean against. Once in the field, walk to the edge of the field (left) with the field wall on your left, and continue up towards the old railway line. After about 150m you'll be able to see the stone over the wall in the field to your left. There's a gate at the bottom of the field that gives you access into the stone's field.
This is a cracking wee stone which sits close to the old railway embankment, at the bottom of a field on the haugh of Grandtully. The stone is 1.4m tall, and approximately 1.0m wide and 0.5m thick at the base, rising to a point. It has thick veins of sparkly white quartz running through it.
Fred Coles was told in 1908 by "two aged residents in the immediate vicinity" that there used to be a second stone close by this stone.
I tried again to locate this circle today, and once again failed - perhaps! There's a stone standing in the centre of Kenmore golf course which looks suspiciously like one of the stones drawn by Fred Coles in 1910, and it's in the right general area to fit his description. The golfers I spoke to didn't know anything about the stone, and the clubhouse was shut, so I'm planning to write to the owners and ask if the stone has always been there, and if anyone knows anything about it.
This barrow, topped with tall thin conifers, is very visible from the road. The barrow was excavated in 1964, and found to be the final stage in a series of monuments. At its heart were four cremations (dated to c.2860 BCE) in a rectangular stone enclosure, and two ramped stone or wooden post holes. The cremations and holes were inside a penannular ring-cairn, over which the turf and stone barrow were built. On top of the barrow is a standing stone, under which a fifth cremation was found (dated to c.2270 BCE).
The perimeter of the barrow was originally bounded by a dry-stone kerb, but this has now been confused by ploughing and field clearance. On the south side of the barrow is a large square recumbent stone which isn't mentioned in the CANMORE report, and so may also be field clearance.
Directions - head N on the A9 from Perth, turning off onto the A827 for Aberfeldy at the Ballinluig junction. After approximately 5km you should see the barrow on your left at the edge of a field - it's quite hard to miss. There's a gate next to it giving access to the field, and there's space to park in here on a muddy area before the field proper. If it looks too muddy to get out again, continue on another 10m or so around the corner, and there is another gate with space for one car on the tarmac in front of it (just before you go onto the bridge).
Posted by BigSweetie
22nd November 2003ce
Edited 24th November 2003ce
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