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

Blue Cairn (Balnagowan)

Long Cairn


Following a ferocious - not to mention utterly wondrous - pounding by unfeasibly powerful winds upon Tap O' Noth, I'm in need of somewhere a bit more, er, relaxed and sheltered for the remainder of the day. Must be getting old, I guess. Unfortunately I've not the time... OK, nor energy either... to undertake a Drewbhoy-style trek across the hills which rise to the north-west of Aboyne. That's what happens when you run out of Irn-Bru, see. I therefore settle for 'just' The Blue Cairn instead. Well, I do appreciate a decent long cairn, me.

En-route, the overwhelming richness of Aberdeenshire's ancient heritage is - to be frank - overwhelmingly apparent, the Culsh souterrain and Tomnaverie RSC just two highlights on offer (luckily I've seen the latter, but Culsh will need to wait, since these things can not be rushed). Look for a very minor - just about surfaced - road heading west from the B9094 about mid-way between Aboyne and Tomnaverie, that is almost opposite the track to Coull Home Farm. I follow the former to its terminus and then veer sharply left, taking an unmade track to Muir Cottage (the cottage is adorned with numerous car number plates). The occupier readily agrees to a request to park and gives me directions to the cairn I've come to see - basically head for a prominent tree just before the forestry line, cross the fence and follow to the right. Hey, even I couldn't miss it. Which is saying something.

Approaching from the east, the sheer length of this long cairn isn't at first apparent. However cross (another) fence and, suffice to say, it soon is. Canmore (A S Henshall 1963) has the following to say:

'Blue Cairn is a long horned cairn, aligned ESE - WNW, composed of large boulders and generally undisturbed, with no structural features exposed. It measures 175ft in length (the horns project another 10ft at the east end) and is 60ft wide across the horns. It varies in height from 6ft at the east end to 2ft at the west end. About 40ft back from the facade a distinct, regular hollow about 3ft deep, probably an original feature, crosses the cairn.'

Although the above is no doubt a far more succinct physical summary than I could ever hope to give - although the 'generally undisturbed' comment may need some revision? - it doesn't begin to relate the incredibly peaceful atmosphere prevalent at this monument this early evening. Drewbhoy is spot on. So is the vibe. So is the weather, the sun throwing shadows to enhance form, the site sheltered from the severe winds by woodland. A lateral barbed wire fence bisects the cairn at one point, but this is of little consequence, easily stepped over.

I sit upon the Blue Cairn until 7.30pm, a build up of cloud in the previously - and appropriately enough - blue sky suggesting a change in the weather.
27th June 2011ce
Edited 27th June 2011ce

Comments (2)

Excellent! drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th June 2011ce
Aye... thanks for the tip. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
28th June 2011ce
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