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


Chambered Cairn


To experience dawn upon 'The Mound', looking north-west towards the wildlife haven of Strath Fleet, is to invoke perhaps as many variations of emotion as there are of light playing upon the sunlit water. Not surprising, perhaps, since this section of the Dornoch Firth coastline is exquisitely beautiful, not to mention graced by an obscure stone circle (Aberscross) set upon high ground the approx north. I'm heading down the Great Glen today, that great rift in the landscape which damn well nearly splits Scotland in two. But not just yet.... for some undetermined reason Strath Fleet calls me. I check the map. Ah, Achany. Well, whilst I'm in the area it'd be rude not to, I guess. The call is unspoken, never unheard.

The traveller heading westwards down Strath Fleet will eventually arrive at the 'crossroads' of Lairg at the southern tip of the mighty Loch Shin... the town overlooked by a fine passage grave - and a not so fine companion remnant - set high upon The Ord. Achany is much more shy and retiring than that, located beside the loch's outflow, The River Shin, near its confluence with the Grudie Burn.... a little to the south within Achany Glen. A chambered cairn of the 'Orkney-Cromarty' type with a roofless, yet still pretty substantial rectangular chamber, the monument is, to my mind, perfectly located in a field alongside the quiet B864. Quiet? Yeah, Achany's a place for those who simply want to relax and think of.... well.... guess that's up to you. An inspirational place to inspire great thoughts? Or simply somewhere to chill out, to re-boot psyches fried by exposure to too much meaningless 'information' in a society that seemingly values blaggers above all else?

Having said that, it's also a pretty fine monument, too. The cairn is substantial, albeit robbed somewhat to expose the chamber orthostats, with remains of a facade to the NNE. Yeah, I reckon so. However it's the chambered cairn's relationship to the landscape which, for me, is the defining attribute of Achany. It just seems 'right', you know? Belongs here, blends in. As you would expect in The Highlands, the flora plays its part in the overall scheme of things, too, blue bells matching the hue of a vibrant sky playing 'tag' with fast moving downpours.

Access is easy. If coming from Lairg, park in the entrance to forestry track 'Grudie 42' just before a solid, single arch stone bridge over the aforementioned Grudie Burn. The monument lies in the field beyond the bridge to the left... metal gate tied shut, or another, open, a little further down the road. Nice.
28th July 2011ce
Edited 28th July 2011ce

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