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.