After a delicious (and rather IN-expensive) lunch in The Catacol Hotel, we drove down through Thundergay and Whitefarland. Beautiful calm seas and high leaden skies lent the journey a sense of impending.... something or other. I'd not had my fly rod out on the holiday, and although the trout season had finished the October runs of Sea Trout and Salmon were in full flow. A lucky angler walked up to the bridge at Dougarie Lodge as we drove past. He was carrying what must have been a twenty-five pound Salmon. "Wow Look at the fish he's got!" I exclaimed. No answer. My OH was fast asleep in her car seat and the wee fella was snoring gently, slumped on his booster in the back. Hmm, I thought, free time for Druid!
I pulled over about half a mile further on and walked up to Auchencar Farm leaving the two dreamers to their dreams. The farmer was just setting his prize tups out amongst his ewes in the field with the stone and in the one next to it. he stopped on his quad and told me just to go into the field if I wanted. I've been up to the stone many times before and I politely declined, the view is so much better from a distance. You get a better idea of the scale of the stone. A bit of perspective.... Also, I hate to disturb a tup about his business, so I contented myself with brilliant views across the field toward the stone.
Druid is just such a brute of a thing. massive and phallic, a curving, bulging, priapus and yet at the same time it is one half of a very feminine shape (the other half lies broken beside it). There is a slight rise around the stones which could be a well robbed-out cairn but I'm not convinced. Some short cists were ploughed up between the stone and Auchencar Farm about a hundred years ago and a cremation urn was found about a hundred yards North West of the stone in the late 19th Century. The surviving stone faces towards the sea and it is highly visible. This stone was meant to be seen. We saw it from miles away, walking round from King's Caves at the start of the holiday. For the sea-going (and sea-arriving) early visitors, the 70 feet above sea level stones would have been a superb landmark as they arrived by canoe from the South up the Kilbrannan Sound. The stones would have guided them into Machrie Bay and two of the best salmon runs (The Machrie Water and the Iiorsa) on the South Western Seaboard of Scotland. There is an ancient (and large) tidal fish trap by the mouth of the Machrie Water and those runs of Salmon would have been immense in the Neolithic.
I returned to the car and the two still-snoring dreamers and set off for King's Cross Point, our wee holiday cottage and the promise of a game of the new Arran Monopoly set.
It's completely different kind of stone when compared to those at Machrie. It would look more at home on the Isle of Lewis.
It's a damn good one. Nice shape, size, good lichen, nice views, fairly easy to get to, with the fallen twin hiding in the grass as a bonus. It's lovely and sculptural.
It's easy to get to from the farmhouse halfway up to Auchencar, where the folks were happy to dispense permission for tromping across the field. Beware though, dodgy narrow track and not much space to turn a vehicle.