Impatience from the Rev. Edward Daniel Clarke, who probably believed all sorts of unlikely things himself.
The superstition of the inhabitants, not only of Mull, but of the neighbouring islands, is beyond belief. Stones of any singular form.. have each a peculiar characteristic virtue. They are handed with veneration from father to son, and esteemed as a remedy for every species of disease incident to the human or animal race. As there is not in the whole island of Mull a single surgeon or apothecary, it is well for the natives they can have recourse to a mode of relief so universal and so efficacious.
.. It was with much difficulty I could prevail upon these credulous quacks to part with any specimen of their potent charms. I succeeded, however, in purchasing two, during the time I remained in Mull. One of these, a hard and polished stone, evidently appears to have been once used as an axe, or hatchet, and bears a strong resemblance to the specimens of similar instruments brought by circumnavigators from the South Sea islands. The other is of the same nature with the first, with respect to the use for which it was originally fabricated, although it differs in its composition; it was probably once an instrument of war.
By holding the former over the head of any diseased cattle, and pouring water upon it, letting the water at the same time fall on the animal, the beast is said to recover without fail. The latter is a sovereign remedy against barrenness in cows, if it be used in the same way. If either of them be dipped in water, the water cures all pains of the head or teeth, it also removes the rheumatism or sprains in the joints, with a variety of other virtues, too numerous to mention.
Several others which I saw, possessed virtues as various as their forms. Some of these were fossil shells; others like the flint of a gun, called Fairy speds*; and again, others, mere oblong pebbles, which they distinguished by the appellation of 'Cockaroo-hoo-pan', a sovereign antidote for barrenness in the female sex.
* I guess these could have been flint arrowheads. 'Sped' means 'discharged or let go' which sounds like what a fairy might do to an arrow? Also, if anyone's got an axe I'd like to try it on my sciatica please.
From p229 of 'The Life and Remains of the Rev. Edward Daniel Clarke' (professor of mineralogy at Cambridge) by William Otter (1824) - viewable on Google Books.
When visiting the very nice town of Ballomory, sorry I mean Tobormory, you can't help but visit these standing stones. We parked, as before, at the pottery and I headed up the path with Sophie in tow. Dafydd decided to sit this one out.
Where the path ends and becomes a rough track it became increasingly muddy. The last time I visited this track was brilliant white with freshly laid scallop shells. Now it was quite overgrown with most of the shells hidden by grass. It didn't look like many people had been along here recently. (I noticed when I re-visited the museum on the harbor front that the stones were no longer being promoted)
We climbed up and over the wall via the very rusty steps and straight into a bog-like field. It was very, very wet and very, very muddy. Luckily Sophie had her ever present pink wellies on whilst I attempted to jump from one (relatively) 'dry spot' to the next.
At least it wasn't raining!
We soon squelched our way to the stones and admired the views. Well, I admired the views, Sophie hid behind the stones to try to keep out of the cold wind. There is no change to report on the stones since my last visit. They are still here, keeping watch. Before long it was time to go - time and tide and ferries wait for no man - or woman.
On the road to Iona (A849) Park at the cemetery about 1 mile west of Bunessan. Go through the gate and up the steep but short hill. When you reach the top you will see the ruined, deserted buildings and the two standing stones.
The views north across Loch Na L'Athaich over to the mountains are breathtaking. We stopped of here on our way back from Iona. You should do the same.
There are two standing stones on the NNE side of the barrow. One stone measures 1.1m high x 0.6m and the other 1.95m high x 0.6m. The smaller stone has a hole 0.4m from the top but this does not seem to be an ancient perforation. 1974.
This fort is very easy to spot when heading down the A849 towards Iona. It is a large rock outcrop. Unfortunately I didn't have time to stop.
On the summit of a rocky knoll situated 350m N of Torrans farmhouse, between the road and the shore of Loch Scridain. The remains of the Dun measures 30m x 14m. The wall of the dun is now reduced to a grass-grown band of rubble about 0.3m high. The only feature within the interior is a modern stone-walled enclosure. 1972.
From the parking area head for the the kerb cairn within the trees. Visible from parking area. Follow the (infrequent) white painted stones next to the fence on your right. Keep walking and you will see a large, old wooden gate (with equally old, wooden sign on it) which gives access to the field where the circle resides. This is to your left as you walk keeping the fence to your right. I hope this makes sense?! The circle is not visible from the parking area but it is only a short, if wet, walk. Well worth the effort.
This is a good spot for a stone circle (I assume this area was drier when it was built) It is in a natural amphitheatre which reminded me (a little) of Castlerigg. Some of the stones were harder to get close to than others due to the standing water.
There were several other visitors which surprised me a bit as this is well off the beaten track. One was a car load of Americans and I tried to explain what the standing stones, kerb cairn and stone circle were about - given my limited knowledge. They had previously visited the Orkney sites and the Clava Cairns so knew a fair bit anyway. Not your average American tourists then! :)
This site is also visible from the parking area. A little oasis of trees in a field of water and bog. At one point Dafydd's welly got so stuck in the mud it came off his foot and I needed to use two hands to pull it out of the mud, such was the suction.
I liked it here (I like sites with trees). Several large kerb stones remain and the entrance is well defined and in good condition. Very nice and well worth stopping off for on the way to the circle. Just make sure you bring your wellies!
The stone can be seen on the approach road and from the parking area.
It was sunny and not raining! However, this water meadow (it must be) was incredibly wet and muddy. Parts of the field was underwater. The landlord of the B+B we were staying in said that normally the field was dry from June to August - but not on my visit. Apparently local farmers were reporting this is the wettest summer they have had since 1985. This I can believe. The stone now has its own moat to protect it.