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


Chambered Tomb


After my vaguely informed wanderings around South Lanarkshire it's admittedly a little reassuring to be upon familiar ground once more. However it soon becomes clear that my assumed familiarity with the environs of Loch Tay is a little misplaced, to say the least. 'Hang on, Tiompan reckons there's a chambered cairn near here' I think as I pass the (now defunct) Ben Lawers Visitor Centre turn-off on the A827 from Killin ... 'nothing on the map... but while I'm here I guess it'd be rude not to have a look', I conclude. Or something similar.

Needless to say - without local knowledge - it's not as easy as that. Transposing the OS co-ordinates to my map appears to place the site within trees on the Loch Tay side of the road. It's not. Other side, in fact. Set beyond, and obscured - not to mentioned camouflaged - by a series of rock outcrops beneath a rather iconic tree. Yeah, the tree's the key. But what of the chambered cairn? To be honest the physical remains are not going to blow you away unless you are completely nuts about the things. Several orthostats protrude from the ground... and that is more or less that.

Except I nearly forgot to mention the overwhelming presence of the near-as-dammit 4,000ft Ben Lawers towering above to the approx north. And that, combined with the setting above the nearby loch is, I think, the real glory of the Kiltyrie tomb. The way it relates to the landscape. Or perhaps the way it helps the visitor to relate to the landscape without them even realising it? Consider this. I swear the thought never consciously occurred to me at the tomb.... yet the next morning, as I drive past the now removed Ben Lawers Visitor Centre car park (the centre's been demolished due to lack of visitors, not the car park) I am 'compelled' to reverse and go climb the mountain there and then. Ben Lawers is the highest peak I've ever ascended in my life, by some distance. So this represents a serious challenge.

The action is seemingly on the spur of moment... or did the builders of the Kiltyrie tomb simply perfect the art of locating a monument in order to maximise relationships with the landscape as perceived by the individual? Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting for a moment there are 'mystical' or 'supernatural' forces at work here. Don't believe in such things. What I am suggesting is the tomb builders may have possessed a well developed (sophisticated, even) appreciation of how the human animal reacts to certain stimuli and located their momument to achieve optimum psycological benefit accordingly? If so, it certainly worked with me.
13th June 2011ce
Edited 14th June 2011ce

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