Today as part of the Scottish Archaeology month we visited Drumtroddan carved rocks, the talk was given by Jane Murray, a local archaeologist.
We discovered as part of the event that most of the panels at Drumtroddan have been damaged by someone or people trying to clean the carvings with what looks like it must have been a wire brush, this of course is getting reported to Historic Scotland.
Definitely not for the hygiene-obsessives amongst us.
An early start and an 80 mile drive saw me'n'Bony at Drumtroddan Farm by 10.30. The farmer lady gave us a fine welcome and directed us behind the farmhouse to the fenced cup and ring stones.
'Muddy' is an understatement, the field with the carved stones held only a horse, which stared at us nonchalantly. No mental cows anywhere.
An unfeasibly mild and windless, though colourlessly grey January day meant it was actually a warm walk across the field.
The circles and cups are indeed impressive and the visitor is rewarded with patient inspection of the lichen-covered stones. In the shadowless light we encountered, it was actually quite difficult to make out the shallower patterns - in fact I'm sure there WERE some we missed; photography was pointless because of this. Superb stuff though.
The third group behind the dry-stane wall are very easy to reach thanks to the protruding stones set as steps to aid the clamber.
And on to the standing stones... what a trip they are. Across a couple of fields from the carved stones and visible almost from the farmhouse, they CAN be reached more easily from the road if when travelling south past the farm entrance, you drive round the bend and take the first left. There are no signs until you have actually passed the stones - although they are clearly visible to the left of the road. However you have to be a wuss to drive round - we almost did but decided to brave the mud - the journey is half the fun n'est-ce pas?
These stones are monsters and are in such an exposed and elevated position that makes them seem even larger. The one with the thin base looks like a dagger driven deep into the very flesh of the earth, the other standing stone is almost triangular in cross section looking about to throw itself skywards.
A magical place worthy of your diligence. (Who wants to make these places easy to get to?)
Drumtroddan is superb and at the same time frustrating. After overshooting the farm track (there is only a sign one way, and not the way I was going), I was prepared for a large irate farmer "get orf moi laaarnd etc" but the parking was ok and no sign of any irate pro-fox hunting people. Anyway, following the rather intermitent signs I found the carved rocks - Julian is right about using the fences to navigate, but the promised rancid puddles were noteably not present. The carved rocks are so complex, I spent ages looking at them and finding new patterns and facets to them. Even after the farmer's best attempts to hide the ones in the copse, I eventually worked out how to get in and more of the same swirls and cupmarks were there. Then for the stones. I don't know if you are meant to get to them, but mr Farmer sure makes it difficult. No signs, and no obvious route. So, across a field of grass, over a well dodgy gate and across another field and eventually I was there. It is definitely worth it, the stones are huge and imposing and even better now a fence shields you from the cows. Yes, cows - well, bullocks to be precise and a right crowd of narky bullocks they are too. They are not impressed with people wandering over their field and actually acted quite menacing when I tried to follow what looked like the "proper" path back to the carved rocks. So, back over the fields and gate for another gaze at the intricate swirls. Definitely go here, but beware of bullocks and the dodgy signs - and Julian's puddles. Never did get to see them !