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

Traprain Law



This is one of those sites where the reputation of the place precedes it... the traveller feeling compelled to visit. This volcanic extrusion (hark at me!) certainly offers a spectacular profile, rising seemingly virtually from sea level upon the coastal plain, albeit a profile somewhat defaced by quarrying at the north-eastern end... why, oh why, oh why? Clearly this was an obvious site to establish a hillfort, both from a military perspective and, judging from Neolithic artefacts recovered here, possessing the necessary 'otherworldly' attributes, too. 'Sacred Hill', indeed.

The summit is most easilly gained via a path from the 'official' car parks below the northern flank, a short, reasonably steep climb. Outcrops of volcanic rock afford natural defence to the southern flank, so the surviving lines of drystone rampart protect the former, circling around the hillside to the west. Although not particularly impressive nowadays, relatively speaking, clearly this was once a powerful fortress, bearing in mind the topography. The summit of the mountain itself features the standard OS trig point and, of far greater importance, what I take to be the remnants of the kerb of a former Bronze Age cairn? Or is that being a little too fanciful?

As you might expect from such an isolated, coastal hill, Traprain Law is a stunning viewpoint. It really is. To the north, the stupendous curtain wall of Tantallon Castle is just visible before the - frankly bizarre - Bass Rock, with the equally noteworthy hillfort of Berwick Law to its left. Edinburgh crowns the approx western horizon, while the southern aspect is that of agriculture, the very basis of Iron Age wealth.

As I sit, an elderly, local man comes over for a chat. He is attired in 'formal' shoes and a cardie and comments upon how cold the wind is for May. 'You don't say?' thinks I, clad in fleece and Gortex. 'Yeah, I lost my wife to pneumonia this February', he adds... 'always wanted to come up here'... and the poignancy of this moment floors me like the proverbial sledgehammer blow to the head. Thankfully the old gent sets off back down before a vicious hail front sweeps in to give me a fearsome battering that is anything but 'proverbial'. It is primeval, invigorating, somewhat un-nerving and more eloquent than I can ever be in describing this hilltop. It IS Traprain Law.
23rd June 2010ce
Edited 23rd June 2010ce

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