After visiting the Kilberry sculptured stones (H.S. site) we stopped off on the way to the ferry to have a look at these fine stones, which are visible from the road.
Both fields are easily accessed via metal gates.
There is a single stone in one field - approximately 7ft high. The two other stones are in the field next door. These stones are approximately 8ft and 10ft high respectively. The tallest stone has large lumps of quartz veined throughout it.
There are fine views over Loch Stornoway.
These stones are very easy to access and are a 'must see' when visiting this fairly remote part of mainland Scotland.
From Tarbert take the A83 south and then the B8024 turn off. The stone is found about 2 miles along the B8024 on your left (east). Easily seen from the road.
Access is by hopping over a rusty metal gate.
The wooden fence is still there and this 2m stone is further protected by waist high nettles. Not good when wearing shorts! The surface of the stone is covered in green lichen.
This is a very easy stone to visit (and well worth it) if you ever happen to find yourself in Tarbert - which is in itself a nice place to visit.
Guess it may well be an aphorism to state that the fort occupying the eastern-most extremity of Kildonan Point is well sited. 'With reference to what', the traveller might well ask, with some justification? Nevertheless it is difficult to counter that there is indeed an authentically ethereal atmosphere to be enjoyed here upon this rocky crag, the remains of an ancient settlement still encircled - at least for a good part of its enceinte - by the remains of a dry stone wall up to 4m thick (according to the RCAHMS - 1971).
Add some majestic, sweeping coastal views across Kildonan Bay to Ugadale Point to the north, Black Bay (south-west) and, last but certainly not least, eastward across Kilbrannan Sound to the Isle of Arran.... and it will be seen that visually aesthetic gold dust has been sprinkled around here, too.
The promontory fort stands above and a little to the approx east of the great round cairn at Kildonan Point, the substantial stonework protecting the apparent original entrance within the north-eastern flank initially misinterpreted by myself (in mitigation at a distance) as a companion funerary monument. Again according to the RCAHMS the settlement measures "internally 55m from NE to SW by about 64m transversely." As noted above the defences - at least those resulting from human agency - are not traceable around the full circumference of the fort, the south-eastern arc noticeably lacking in this respect. However since this sector features substantial rocky outcrops falling away directly to the sea, I reckon it's reasonable to assume that none were ever erected? Yeah, when Nature answers a potential problem so emphatically why elaborate. Why, indeed?
Having said that... the concrete Ordnance Survey trig pillar standing at the summit of the crag resides upon "a low stony mound 4.3m in diameter." Whether this cartographical aid now surmounts something far older is a rhetorical question pending an unlikely excavation. But it is nonetheless an intriguing thought.
As the afternoon drifts inexorably toward evening I must eventually retrace my steps across the foreshore back to the fabulous dun lying across Kildonan Bay and, subsequently, Kilmartin. Now it's fair to say Kilmartin Glen receives its fair share of architectural plaudits... and rightly so. However I've got my beady eye upon a much lesser known subsidiary site tomorrow... the chambered cairn at Baroile.
Guess I need to come clean and admit I had no intention of visiting Kildonan Point during this latest - well, second - sojourn upon Kintyre. Strange as that may seem in retrospect, given the excellence of the monuments to be found here. Suffice to say there was no master plan. There never is. Yeah, not even a night spent upon the Mull itself was sufficient to fire the relevant synapse in a brain not engaged with the appreciation of copious tea and muesli... and bring a well subsumed recollection of antiquarian typeface upon an OS map bubbling into consciousness.
Not surprisingly, given the site's obvious architectural and aesthetic quality, the sublimely positioned dun lying immediately across Kildonan Bay was the sole focus of my attention upon finally vacating the equally enthralling Balnabraid kerbed cairn. However as I recline upon the ancient wall top gazing contentedly across to Arran - as you do - something that looks suspiciously like a large stone pile catches my eye to the south, that is a little 'inland' from the promontory's terminal point. Now, given my well documented fondness for such features upon the landscape, annoyance generated by the subsequent confirmation of supposition by memory may seem somewhat paradoxical. Nevertheless I dig deep, drag myself to my feet and set off along water's edge to go have a look. The going is pretty rough, the grassy shoreline, riven by the infinitely repetitive actions of high tide, eventually merging with rock and, finally, beach enlivened by the skeletal spars of a boat long since past its sell by date.
From here it is but a short meander up a shallow rise to determine that my eyes - not to mention dormant memory - did not deceive me. Yeah this cairn is really something special.... arguably second only to the great Correchrevie should you happen to be contemplating the round cairns of Kintyre. OK the monument has been significantly damaged upon its eastern arc, a threatening mass of industrial strength gorse seemingly determined to mitigate against further loss with a show of unbridled ferocity... however enough stone remains in situ to give a more than convincing impression of overwhelming solidity. The RCAHMS (1971) gave the cairn's dimensions as "23m in diameter and 3m in height".... however... "a short stretch of a heavy boulder kerb, still visible on the SW, suggests that it originally had a diameter of about 18.5m".
As mentioned Nature has now initiated the process of reclaiming this great stone pile, perhaps with a little artificial assistance, if the presence of some delicate white flowers upon the summit is indicative of such? The Mam C would know. In fact the cairn could be said to resemble a rock garden executed in true 'no-holds-barred' Scottish style. Fine by me. What's more the view looking across Kildonan Bay and beyond to the high ground of Arran, the latter now periodically semi-obscured by an advancing cloud base, is excellent, if by definition somewhat muted of colour.
Eventually my attention is drawn to what appears to be a second, shattered cairn located very oddly upon the northern flank of promontory's end. Investigation duly resolves the apparent conundrum. Hey, it's not a cairn at all but part of a substantial, dry stone rampart demarcating what was once clearly a pretty powerful promontory fort gracing the apex of Kildonan Point.
It would appear there is to be no rest for the inquisitive.... yeah, no sleep 'til Kilmartin.
Located a couple of miles south of Kildalloig Bay upon Kintyre's eastern flank and, incidentally, not far from New Orleans (hey check the map, it's true) the current denuded nature of this (apparently once very substantial) cairn belies a monument with a far, far more significant pedigree. In fact - seeing as its multi-faceted internal arrangements were found to feature no fewer than ELEVEN (count 'em) cists - I'd go as far as to say that, in my experience, I reckon this to be a truly unprecedented site. Sadly none of that ridiculously copious funerary detail can now be seen due to protective post excavation backfilling... one assumes upon the conclusion of the 1966 dig, the other excavations having taken place in 1910 and 1913. Sometimes it's enough to be aware what lies beneath, you know? No need to touch.
Not to mention what previously lay interned within those little stone-slabbed boxes. Yeah, the grave goods... artefacts which Bronze Age locals deemed suitably precious and noteworthy enough to accompany their loved ones (or at the very least, respected ones) into whatever afterlife loomed large in their collective consciousness at the time. According to Canmore these included "a beaker with jet disc-beads and a flint knife, three food-vessels and a cinerary urn." In addition, as if that fine assemblage of objects infused with inherently intimate human association wasn't enough, "a bronze razor, probably dating from 1400 to 1000 BC, was found on the site in 1966." Hmm. Suffice to say the prehistoric providence of this particular stone pile is not in any doubt. As is its ability to transcend millennia.
Furthermore, despite being located at little more than sea level, the placement of the monument within its landscape is excellent. Yeah, set overlooking the Balnabraid Water as it flows down Balnabraid Glen to merge with the southern approach to Kilbrannan Sound, the focus is, and no doubt was always intended to be, seaward.... a grandstand view of fresh water returning back whence it came to the saline, courtesy of the planet's natural weather cycles. With the enigmatic profile of Ailsa Craig looming upon the south-eastern horizon for good measure. It could be said that the monument's connection with the Balnabraid Water is definitive since it was erosion caused by the action of the latter that "revealed a cinerary urn in the exposed face of the cairn" in 1910. Well, there you are.
Whether the visitor approaches the site from the north or south a fine aerial view will be obtained from the coastal road as it descends to Corphin Bridge. Parking is available at roadside, a field gate allowing access to the cairn.
Although apparently a shadow of its former self... the funerary cairn at Balnabraid nevertheless casts a long shadow indeed.
Although there are actually less standing stones here than at the not too distant Lochorodale 2... this monument - in my opinion - fully justifies its numerical primacy on account of its wondrous location overlooking the eponymous loch. And, to be fair, a substantial volume of cairn material remains in situ, together with four heavy slabs forming a chamber to the north-west. OK, a façade would have been nice (assuming one existed as an original feature?); but with a view like that.....
It is possible to park at the entrance to the stony track just south-west of the house at Lochorodale, that is just before the road begins the steep climb to the summit of the glen and Lochorodale 2. Following the track northwards a grassy diversion to the left is soon encountered which will take the inquisitive visitor straight to where he or she wants to be in short order. I, however, conscious of my dodgy route finding in forestry with old OS maps, elect to stick with the primary route. I would recommend this option since the views are better, the track subsequently veering to the left (west) to meet its neighbour below the southern face of a rocky crag.
The track peters out servicing a holiday home - or so it would appear (certainly a good place to rent out for a week or two if you fancy staying somewhere off the beaten track, I'd have thought?) - it being possible to circle around the left hand (western) flank of the crag to reach the monument. This is the approach I take but, in retrospect, I would suggest that ascending the crag directly northwards is the preferred option since this accords a grandstand, sweeping vista of the chambered cairn set in its landscape below.
The Clyde-type chambered long cairn sits to the left of a forestry plantation which partially obscures the onward view across the loch to the north-west; nevertheless I really think the setting is something special. As mentioned the monument appears pretty well defined, according to JG Scott (1952) and - as expected - AS Henshall (1972) the NW-SE facing cairn rising to approx "5ft to 6ft high near the centre". The chunky chamber stones project "1ft 3ins to 2ft" from the surface of the cairn forming the perfect spot to lie back, take in the glorious view and eat lunch. Yeah, this really is a superb place to simply sit and do nothing for a couple of hours, particularly if the weather is kind. Hey, I even had a bit of a stiff breeze to keep the midges at bay. A very welcome bonus indeed.
So in summary: not an overwhelmingly great chambered cairn, if relative merit is determined solely upon the criterion of quality of archaeology... but, of course, there are many other aspects to take into consideration, are there not? Consequently I reckon this is a classically located site worthy of seeking out for an extended visit.
And that, I guess, is that except to mention that the 1:25K map depicts a cup marked stone nearby at NR656161. The RCAHMS  reckon this is "A cup-marked boulder, 1.7m by 1.1m by 0.5m high, bearing at least fourteen cups." Didn't visit myself since the lure of Blasthill was too great. But there you are.
Arriving at the summit of the very minor road ascending Achnabrand Glen (from the B842 to approx north-east) following an afternoon of - it has to be said - sensory overload at Greenland I readily admit to being more than pleasantly surprised at the substantial nature of the chambered cairn located here, a little south of this very steep section of tarmacadam. Just the thing to round off an excellent day upon Kintyre, an opportunity to watch the last rays of the sun sink below the coniferous tree line embraced by the calming presence of this most ancient stone pile, prior to parking up for the night.
OK, Greywether didn't rate the remains of this Clyde-type chambered long cairn... but then, with cairn material still rising to approx (my) head height, together with several large façade orthostats and a couple of chamber slabs still remaining in situ... I beg to differ. Quite understandably, having searched for many a vague, grassy undulation in southern England, my megalithic standards are somewhat less exacting.
Even during my late May visit the monument is very overgrown with ubiquitous fern obscuring much of the body of the long cairn; nevertheless the remaining southern half of the west-facing façade stands proud of the vegetation according the site a memorable profile... particularly when looking eastwards across the monument down the glen. Ditto the remains of the axial chamber, which, I would assume, was entered from the west through the façade. I'm afraid I could find no trace of the anticipated lateral chamber. Whether this inability was due to the obvious past disruption, the overgrown nature of the monument... or simply the fact that it doesn't exist... is I guess a moot point.
Having subsequently read Carl's notes I would say that, bearing in mind the minor nature of the road, a winter visit is probably not recommended unless you have a 4x4... and know how to use it. I could be wrong, but assumption is this route will not be gritted? Hence if, upon struggling up the road, no long cairn is forthcoming, I suggest visitors look for a small rise to the left (south), climb that and the site will (surely?) be seen to be located exactly where it should be.
Furthermore, if time permits, a visit to the excellent companion chambered cairn at Lochorodale 1 is highly recommended.