|Torr an Loisgte
Notes in Grey Weather – Morning 13 October 2010
With a grey morning mist and low cloud across the Firth of Clyde, I set off early to seek out Torr an Loisgte. I'd been intrigued by Greywether's pictures on here and had been longing to check out the site for myself. Torr an Loisgte was my "must do" during this October week with my family on Arran. We were staying at one of the cottages at Point House at King's Cross Point and from a vantage point on the way up the winding access I could make out the Giant's Graves on their now deforested terrace. On my OS Explorer map the cairn appeared to be a couple of hundred yards to the West and about 45 feet above the [Giant's Graves].
I parked by the bus terminus at the South end of Whiting Bay and headed up the Glenashdale Falls Path. I took the left turn up the steep hairpin bends of the route to Giant's Graves. They used to have hundreds of steps cut into the path years back and I'm glad they have relaid the path. The circular route via Glenashdale is a bit gentler on the way in but I was in a bit of a hurry, having haggled an hour or two off from my OH and Junior. I was up to the Giant's Graves in fifteen minutes, sweating out the previous night's Cab Sauv and replacing it with a generic supermarket version of a popular energy drink. The Giant's Graves had been visited by some ***** who'd lit a fire close in by the North cairn and piled up felled tree trunks over the chamber like some kinda log roof. I couldn't leave it like that and kicked the hearth and ashes into the felled forestry then I tossed the trunks off the edge of the terrace like a salvo of cabers. Job done, I pressed upwards and onwards.
Greywether described Torr an Loisgte as "Not easy to get to". Times change. It is now impsy-pimpsy, easy-peasy since they felled the forestry. Simply continue on the wee footpath from Giant's Graves until you reach the old forestry road. Turn right, follow it round the hillside for about two hundred yards. Stop at the picnic table by the roadside and scramble up the bank above the road. This large cairn is behind the wee hillock in front of you.
I wasn't quite prepared for the sight which met me. A pandemonium of tumbled stone, half opened chambers and hints of a huge façade all coated in a thick blanket of moss, turf, peat and lichen. I found it very difficult to get a handle on the site at first, as the layout of visible chambers seemed to make little sense in relation to each other. Strange uprights emerged from the middle of the cairn, there were obvious chamber collapses in some areas and only one area (the North end next to the wee hillock) seemed to be in its original state. I could not work the visible and slightly open capstones into any kind of sensible orientation, and the notion of a row of central chambers seemed farcical given the carnage which faced me. Even the façade seemed to start going one way then I'd find a second row of façade uprights which bore no relation to the initial one. The cairn was only first reported in the 1970's and as far as I know has never been excavated. Downhill all that is really left of the Giant's Graves are the central chambers and a few façade stones, the cairn material now exists as a series of drystane dykes which run around the hill below. In comparison, Torr an Loisgte appears to be fairly complete and unrobbed, but the central and southern end look like someone has taken a JCB and pushed it around. To me, trying to make sense of Torr an Loisgte was a bit like looking at heap of scrap metal and trying to work out how a car works. I am sure there is a LOT of archaeology still in Torr an Loisgte and its comparatively recent discovery ensured it escaped the attentions of 19th Century treasure seekers and gentleman antiquaries.
I took a set of pictures and found my OH's complex digital camera had stuck itself on Black and White setting. I couldn't get it back to colour so my apologies for the monochrome set. I sat on the wee hillock and gazed out to Holy Island drinking in the view and the early morning quiet. No-one from TMA had contributed any notes or photos since Greywether's visit back in May 2005 and I wondered if anyone at all had been up here since then. This long forgotten cairn does not even have an agreed name "Torr an Loisgte" here on TMA, "Torran Loisgte" with the Ordnance Survey and according to Canmore the hill is called "Torr on Loisgte". Even the gaelic word "Loisgte" is a bit vague, my limited knowledge suggests it means "Hill of the fire" or "Hill of the burning". I returned to my car by the Glenashdale Falls path… more confused about Torr an Loisgte than when I arrived…. but in a good way.
Posted by Howburn Digger
22nd October 2010ce
Edited 15th July 2016ce