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

Greadal Fhinn

Chambered Cairn


Any TMA-inspired tour of the chambered cairns of Scotland might well, with much justification, be called 'The Greywether Trail'. It is therefore with a - hands up, I admit it - somewhat immature 'YES!', followed by a Ravanelli-style celebration to an imaginary rendition of Ode to Joy, that I find one that he hasn't posted. Sad, isn't it?

To be honest, Greadal Fhinn has intrigued me for quite a while. Never having seen it referenced in any guide, there it was, as clear as day upon the 1:50k OS map. Kilchoan... yeah, went there once to look at the excellent Mingary Castle, but what if this chamber is fragmentary, destroyed, even? Long deviation from the tour route for little reward? I settle the question by deciding to take in the chambered cairn at nearby Camas nan Geall, too. And, of course, if the weather's fine there's the exquisitely brutal scenery of Ardnamurchan as well.

Funnily enough, dawn at my coastal camping place, near Glenuig, arrives with promise of another fine day. Bleedin' freezing, though, courtesy of a pretty stiff breeze. The drive to Kilchoan is long and, you could say, made upon one of the most consistently 'serpentine' roads in the UK. But how can I complain, not after recently stumbling across Loch Nell's Serpent Mound? Exactly. And the loch views, particularly of Sunart, are exquisite.

Arriving at Kilchoan, I initially attempt to access the site, clearly visible upon the hillside, from the B8007 on Glebe Hill.... however thick foliage and fence lines make me think again and park near the jetty, beside the village shop-cum-post office. I ask a local. 'Burial chamber?' She looks at me blankly. 'Oh, the standing stones!' Seems access is no problem at all. A 'twin gate' (pedestrian beside standard size) gives access to a field with raised water grilles near the entrance. Simply head uphill, to the left of houses and through (open) fieldgates, veering left to the monument.

It is worth it. A large chamber, comprised of substantial orthostats partly supporting a slipped capstone, stands before one of the most diminutive little chambers I ever did see. A truly 'ickle' dolmen, the chamber so exquisitely small I cannot even squeeze the Gladman frame inside... although the bright blue hue of the reverse of the capstone suggests the odd sheep or two find it a comfortable fit. Cairn material is at an absolute premium, and although the linear chamber alignment may well mean that Greadal Fhinn was a long cairn, 'something' tells me it was round...?

So, substantial surviving chambers, then. But this is only part of the reason for a visit here, for the sea views across to The Isle of Mull are stunning. They really are. Ben Hiant, despite being a mere 'tiddler' in Scottish terms, is also a beautifully aesthetic mountain to have as a backdrop. Sit and watch the ferries ply their trade along the Sound and reflect that life isn't always that much of a drag. Not as long as there are places like Greadal Fhinn still on this planet.
13th June 2010ce
Edited 30th June 2010ce

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