I drove all the way down the lane past the hillfort and hidden rock art, all the way to the entrance to Ardmarnock house, there is one questionable parking place, by a man made waterfall.
From this miniature crossroads between houses its about a 150yds to the stones, up the long curving driveway to the house turn off the drive on its corner and sneak up the hill about 60yds.
I suppose I could have asked permission, but as a postman i'm used to walking up garden paths unhindered.
The Rhodadendrons have been severely cut back and the stones are free and open to inspection.
There is a cup and ring on one wall of the cist like chamber, though I could only see the cup now. There look like two capstones both slipped off one of them looks like a big clam shell half.
The view is cut off by trees nearly 360 degrees all round except towards the loch, theyre a bit thinner there, and I suspect that if I come back after Tea it might be a good place for a sunset.
An important site in that it is a Neolithic Clyde chambered cairn with a cup and ring mark.
The only other such finds (as far as I know) are at Cairnholy - one on a cup and ring marked stele which was found in a chamber in Cairnholy 1 and assumed to be secondary and another on a chamber stone also at Cairnholy 1 which could have been exposed and thus decorated at any later date.
There is, of course, no telling when the cup and ring was added at Ardmarnock but its position in the centre of the septal stone in the chamber might suggest that it was part of the original structure. There is also a cup mark on the other side of the septal stone.
The site was cleared of its impenetrable rhododendrons a few years ago but they are begining to grow back in. They make it difficult to see the extent of the surviving cairn but the well preserved chamber arrangements are still visible.
What we probably have here is a single compartment chamber fronted by two large portal stones and a slipped capstone. It faces NE.
A 1970s description treats the portal stones as two side stones of another compartment. Their shape does not support this interpretation but it would allow the other visible stone to be treated as a capstone to this second compartment.
More detail with the photo captions.
The site is well worth a visit. It is in the grounds of Ardmarnock House and is signposted from the south drive of the house. It is a good site to take a bike to. The approach to Ardmarnock House is down a private well surfaced road 2 miles long. Non-bikers (like me) can park at the entrance to the Melldalloch holiday cottages off the B8000 and walk.
To break the monotony of the walk, there is along the way a hill fort (also signposted but not visited) and a good cup and ring marked stone at NR92107401. I tried to find the latter but tree-felling operations made it impossible to get close.
This is one of the sites which is considered to be an example of an early Clyde chambered cairn.
There is a generally accepted hypothesis that the Clyde cairns developed from simple box-like cists with some form of entrance definition to the elaborate final stages of multi-compartment axial chambers, side chambers and crescentic facades.
The early versions like Ardmarnock have the cist-like chamber fronted by two large portal stones which have no structural purpose. These portal stones are generally in line with the sides of the chamber and sit either in front of at the side of the chamber side stones.
At the risk of stretching comparisons too far, they could be considered as variations of the portal tombs found in Ireland, Wales and SW England. The main difference being that the capstone is not sloped and resting on the portals but instead sits on the chamber. Perhaps they all developed in their different ways from a starting point of a plain stone cist burial.
Another example of this early type of Clyde tomb is Ardnadam.
Some cairns like Cairnholy are said to show both the early stages and the development into the final form.
There is no dating to back up this hypothesis although it is generally supported by pottery finds.
If this hypothesis is correct, we have the interesting situation of rock art in an early neolithic site. If they are contemporary, it is a small contribution to the argument for pushing back the origins of rock art to the early neolithic.