This was the last site I visited in my day out at Kilmartin. By now the rain was torrential and I made my tired and wet way up the narrow track behind the hotel to the site. The effort was worth it although I am sure I would have enjoyed the experience more in better weather! To make things worse I (somehow) took the wrong track back to the car and ended up the wrong side of the hill - resulting in a long walk along the road which runs around the base of the hill - much to the confusion of passing cars!
We found this site barely accessible with a 3-wheeler buggy. It's pretty steep and rocky on the way up, and very rough, bumpy stuff up at the top. Some of the bumps and ridges between the two panels have hints of natural features used as enclosure/boundaries. Difficult to say though as he natural strata appear to just go their own way and not ay heed to what humans might expect them to do.
The first panel you come to is the one which is allegedly makes use of natural cracks in the schist to create a fishlike motif. It takes a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but I suppose it could be a fish, but only just. It's not exactly fishlike in the way that the Australian rock engravings look like fish, but I suspect the person who first suggested the fish theme may well have seen some of the Aboriginal motifs and may have just imposed the idea onto some otherwise random cracks in the surface at Cairnbaan.
The top panel is a joy to behold. I loved the way the different elements contribute and connect into the whole. High quality rock art.
Careful not to Park in the hotel car park, as the signs indicate that they might get a bit miffed. The space in front of the row of houses is fine though, the path up to the carvings is between the hotel and the houses.
You can park up in the passing place if you turn right just before the Cairnbaan Hotel - the stones are well signposted.
Cairnbaan was the first of many places that impressed upon me how well the various authorities have done in preserving and presenting the numerous monuments here in the Kilmartin Glen. The first group of rock carvings you come to here are, like most major groups, fenced off. But the fencing is pretty inoffensive - no spikes, and subtle dark green in colour. On top of that, it's not there to keep you out. There are small metal steps there for you to get inside and see the carvings up-close. The thing is, once you're inside, the fence - and the fact that the ground in the enclosure is well tended and not covered in sheep shit - creates a palpable sense of this being a 'special place'. So, hopefully, people are gently dissuaded from stupid shit like leaving litter or damaging the rocks.
If people really want to vandalise, there's not a lot you can do. This idea, of the enclosing fence that doesn't exclude, is the best compromise between preservation and access I've seen - and almost made me think that a concept of 'sacred space' was being inadvertently rediscovered...