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

Cairn Na Gath

Chambered Cairn


I concur with Greywether's observation that this long cairn is more impressive from a distance than when viewed up close and personal... but would add that, nonetheless, the exquisitely desolate moorland setting of the monument makes a visit here more than worthwhile. In fact, combine it with a visit to the nearby - and far better preserved - Caves of Kilhern and you'll have a smile on your face the size of the vast Galloway skies...

Sited below and to the west of Balmurrie Fell, access is eased by the fact that the course of the Southern Upland Way long distance path runs a few hundred yards further to the west, the monument being duly signposted from it - just in case you happen to miss a stonking great long cairn on the near horizon, that is. I asked permission to park at Balmurrie Farm, this being readily granted by a sophisticated looking elderly woman tending the cottage garden. From here, follow the track past ancillary farm buildings, veering left past a further, isolated building before heading on a waymarked path across the moor to the NE.

The long cairn is visible from a considerable distance away, emphasising the same Neolithic grasp of landscape dynamics so familiar to visitors of the great long barrows of southern England. The ground is rough, the final stretch quite boggy beyond a ludicrously 'triple-secured' gate (something tells me the landowner's had some issues with the peculiar breed that is the long distance walker). Upon arrival the cairn is something of a disappointment.... at first. A large 'bite' has been extracted from its flank to provide material for drystone walls and a ridiculous 'conning tower' cairn built on top. Nevertheless it remains a substantial, impressive structure. Particularly when the visitor adjusts to the vibe of the locality and the all encompassing sky. True, the ever encroaching wind turbines peer over the eastern horizon, but Cairn Na Gath remains a monument to the wider scheme of things.....

As I sit and take it all in, a couple of men appear upon quad bikes, collies perched upon the rear, the dogs disembarking as required to deal with particularly troublesome sheep. My acknowledgements, however, receive no response.. even at close quarters... Hmm, there clearly are issues here, since common courtesy costs nothing, so assume this is the farmer who is none too happy with my parking at his farm after all? Perhaps, perhaps not. However be aware than access IS official and Greywether indicates alternative parking arrangements in his notes.

North of the long cairn, the map shows a couple of hut circles, but unfortunately I wish to see the Caves of Kilhern before sundown..... oh for more time.
5th June 2010ce
Edited 5th June 2010ce

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