Every now and then a site visit leaves the traveller with a sense of 'what the bloomin' eck do we have here?' Usually this is due to partial destruction, severe undergrowth obscuring form, that sort of thing. But this is something different. Sure, I'd heard of the great Native Indian Serpent Mounds of Ohio, seen a possible 'tail' appended to the Bryn-yr-Hen-Bobl in Anglesey, and read about Stukeley's serpent analogy for Avebury. But here, upon the bonny banks of Loch Nell? The real thing? Yeah, right.
However, during the dying embers of the day I head approx north from the nearby chambered cairn to take an all too brief look at this eroded earthwork. Marked upon the 1:50k OS map simply as 'cairn', this description may well have sufficed if the western section was all there was to be seen here... a large, approx circular cairn bearing a deep excavated cist. Nice. But what's this, a narrow, 'serpentine' ridge (hell yeah!) leading towards, and therefore connecting the cairn to, another, tree covered feature to the approx east? Well, some form of burial monument, clearly. But why the 'body', assuming the cairn to be the 'head'? Symbolism, then. But why the second cairn/mound/hillock at the other end? And was there meant to be a 'tail' section added to that? To be frank, I haven't a clue. But, whatever it is, The Serpent Mound certainly lives up to its assigned name. Does exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak.
I walk the ridge and have a look beyond... perhaps another section, perhaps not? I wish I had more time, but there's a camp to sort for the night and dinner. Basic human requirements. Serpent Mound... love the name and leave here intrigued by this enigmatic, yet virtually unknown site. Oh yesssssssssssssssss.
The Serpent Mound of Lochnell, near Oban
C. W. M... [from Nature, Volume 20, Issue 506, pp. 242 (1879)].
'I walked over yesterday from here to examine this for myself. I started with some feelings of doubt as to whether it was not one of those fantastic shapes naturally assumed by igneous rocks, seen through the spectacles of an antiquarian enthusiast. I came away quite satisfied that it is an artificial shape, designedly given, and deliberately intended to represent a snake. It partly closes the entrance of a singular little rock amphitheatre with a waterfall at the head (the north end of it), the Loch being to the southward. There is a raised plateau to the northward of the serpent, nearly square. The ground is apparently a rubble of gravel, stones, and dirt, such as is found in moraines. The head of the snake had been opened, and showed a quantity of stones with some indication of a square chamber in the middle'