Dawn arrives a little way south-east of Kintraw ushering in one of those mornings where it is resolutely NOT a joy to wild camp in Scotland - or any other place for that matter. Yeah, one where the very atmosphere appears to be contracting in upon itself toward apparent claustrophobic myopia, a swirling mass of grey/white vapour unleashing a hitherto retained, most unwelcome cargo of driving rain. But there you are. Scotland is as Scotland does. Echoing, perhaps, the actions of pioneer English antiquarians of bygone times, a couple of pints of tea duly revive a flagging spirit, fortify the resolution to make every moment spent in such wondrous locations count. So, Baroile chambered cairn it is, then? Hell yeah! To be honest the bravado is not overly convincing, so I hurry to commit to actions before I can change my mind....
Despite the appalling weather Kilmartin Glen is alive this morning with sundry locals and tourists going about their business, the latter betraying their (presumably) more pleasurable vocation through either inappropriately slight or excessive protection from the elements. I like Kilmartin, the grey stone piles lying marooned within lush pasture so matter-of-factly as to suggest the intervening millennia since their inception are but a figment of our modern imagination. Having said that there is also something a little too 'manicured' about the monuments for my taste nowadays; guess for me they possess the archaeology, but lack the intensity of vibe. Elitist bastard.
Anyway, following the A816 past the great Ballymeanoch alignments upon the right, with Dunadd rearing enigmatically upon the near horizon, a minor road (severely potholed) heads left toward 'Rhudle Mill'. The 'road' - for want of a better term - eventually peters out at Kilbride farm, but it is possible to park within an old quarry now utilised as an apparently terminal resting place for sundry units of farm machinery etc. Here a footbridge crosses the swollen Rhudil Burn (not a typo, that) whereby a short, soggy, shallow ascent trending to the left brings me within sight of the monument I've come to see in surprisingly short order. 'Surprisingly' since I was unable to locate the chambered cairn upon my previous visit to the nearby Rhudil Cairn. In retrospect I have no explanation for such a failure except to cite navigational error. Hey, it happens. And 'amen' to that since I'll always wish to retain the imperfect human element in finding these places. Suffice to say I'm not a fan of GPS.
A barbed wire fence blocks progress, although a field gate is available. The monument, located upon a little grassy knoll (thankfully without picket fence...) affording excellent views upon and down the Rhudil valley is, in my opinion, impressive. Roughly oval, the cairn (according to RCAHMS 1988) "measures about 26m by 24m" with four (and a bit) upright stones ranging from "1.1m high" at the eastern end to "1.25m" in the west forming a substantial façade facing north-north-east. The axial chamber, accessed through the remains of a double portal "measures about 3.5m in length by 0.8m in breadth and up to 0.85m in height internally..." and is subdivided into two compartments upon a slightly wonky alignment. Or so it would seem. Unfortunately an 1929 excavation by Craw did not return any grave goods.
As I sit and take it all in - the experience, as is often the case, much more that the sum of its parts - revelling in the knowledge that such an unobtrusive, well preserved and - above all - atmospheric monument can be found so close to the Kilmartin honey pot, the inclemental weather of morning begins to falter and finally move away to terrorise some other poor buggers. The sun duly takes the opportunity to break through the cloud mantle and quite literally display Baroile chambered cairn in something approaching its best light. Yeah, the silence may well be golden here this late morning... but so is the intensity of late Spring colour. A perfect combination.