I'm fairly sure I came here on my last Skye trip, but I have no memory of it except sitting on the stone and wondering at the mountain view, nor do I have any pictures of it, perhaps I didn't even know it was a chambered cairn, it might only have been a top place to sit and gawp.
It is I think understandable, I was probably just passing and honestly the first thing you think about when faced with this is not wow look a chambered cairn, it's oooh look at those mountains, couldn't you just take them home with you.
So whilst this site is not my primary concern on Skye, and seeing as I'm passing again, I'd be a bit of a Muppet if I didn't stop off and take a closer second look.
It still doesn't look much like a chambered cairn, but now that I know, I can see it, though the mountains are still too overpowering.
I did find one quite expansive spread where the cairn material can still be seen, but the kerb stones still look like random stones on a hillock, and the top stone is still a top place to sit and gawp.
Travelling north along the A87 you come to Broadford. Take the turn off (left) for the B8083. The Chambered Cairn is about 2 miles down the road on the right hand side, just before the road kinks to the left.
The site is easy to spot being next to the road and you can park anywhere on the grass verge. The standing stone is approximately 0.5m x 0.5m. There are 5 large kerb stones remaining.
The views are magnificent. No wonder there is a bench located next to the Cairn.
Echoing the opinions of those who came before .... I thought this a wondrous site, all things considered. OK, it's far from being the best preserved tomb you'll ever see. That's a given. However, despite the proximity of the minor - yet nonetheless relatively busy - Elgol road, the skyline of Beinn na Caillich, (presumably ancient) summit cairn clearly visible, ensured this chambered cairn possessed a superb vibe. Particularly with the setting sun falling behind the sacred peak....
A half dozen - or so - othostats protruding from the upper surface, like rotten teeth (yet with infinitely greater aesthetic appeal), confirm that this was - hell, is - a funerary monument. The cairn itself is deceptively substantial, particularly so if the traveller sees fit to engage in a wander to the north. However I agree with the SC that it is not clear - to this layman, at least - how much mass was actually placed here by human agency, how much is natural bedrock accentuated and fashioned into the desired profile with additional stone? If the latter made a substantial contribution to the overall effect, the architects were a clever bunch... knew exactly what they were doing. Guess they did, regardless. Assuming the intention was to make an outstanding impression upon the 'inner recesses' of the human psyche.
Despite the great appeal of this site, the thought of the legendary Na Clachan Bhreige stone circle down the road attracts me like the proverbial space-time singularity. Yeah, there is no escaping the overwhelming gravitational pull. Nevertheless I must - and do - return to An Sithean when the day is done in order to experience some more of this easilly visited, yet impossible to forget place. Yeah, best appreciated when the road is quiet, the tourists all tucked up in their B&B rooms, just the wandering cows and sheep for company.
Visited 16.3.2011 on a daytrip to Broadford via the Inverness - Kyle of Lochalsh trainline (a brilliant trip in its own right). This was our first time on Skye itself and the skygods were smiling, as the snow and sleet of earlier in the week gave way to sunshine and stunning blue skies.
The walk along the B8083 from Broadford is an easy one (car-dodging notwithstanding), despite a very keen wind blowing straight at us along the valley. Views to the west are filled by the bulk of the snow-capped Red Cuillins, and in particular Beinn Na Cailleach. I was surprised to see the summit cairn, just visible on top of the mountain. The scenery is jaw-droppingly wonderful here and it was difficult to restrain an urge to rush of up one of the steep ridges to the summit, but discretion conquered stupidity, for once.
The cairn itself looms into view as the road reaches a sharp bend. I was not prepared for the size of this thing and it is not easy to work out whether it sits on a natural mound or is a completely man-made construct. But - bloody hell. I am struggling to think of a site I have visited with such an awesome backdrop. The Red Cuillins fill the view westwards - you don't have to look far to find reasons to site your tomb here do you?
There's little to show that this was once chambered, just four or five orthostats sticking out of the mound. Frankly, it doesn't really matter a bit. The setting is more than enough compensation. This is landscape writ large, a wild, elemental place, a fitting spot for fairies to meet and princesses to gaze over.
Suitably mind-blown, we head off towards Cill Chriosd and its monster-haunted Loch.
Visited 30th July 2004: An Sithean is easy to find, sitting just off the B8083. Parking is easy, and it's a short but moderately steep climb up to the stones (not wheelchair friendly).
The stones are dominated by the peak Beinn na Caillich, but no less significant is Broadford River which lies between the two. This landscape is not lacking in drama!
An Sithean sits enigmatically on top of a hillock, with one remaining standing stone on the very top. The rest of the stones are on the south side of the mound. What appear to be two or more natural ridges fan out from the central point of the mound.
What is this place? If it's a chambered cairn then most of it became road building material a long time ago.
"Aant Sithe, a green mound close to the roadway on the right-hand side. This, as its name implies, is a fairy place. On clear moonlight nights the fairies can be seen dancing on the grass that surrounds the central stone and anyone approaching quietly and with a receptive mind may hear the wonderful strains of fairy music issuing from the ground. What the mound was before it was a fairy dwelling is something of a mystery. In the centre of the summit stands a large stone, perhaps once a 'standing stone' but now closely resembling a broken tooth. Round it is a ring of grass, and then a ring of stone much over-grown; from this stone ring or circle run causeways (or perhaps old fortificaitons or walls), like the rays of a star, to the low ground around it."
- Otta F. Swire, Skye: The Island and its Legends, 1961, p. 219.
The OS map identifies An Sithean as a chambered cairn, also recording some hut circles to the east of the site.
The remains of a probably Hebridean type chambered cairn conspicuously surmounting a small rocky knoll amid rough grazing which has been cultivated at some time. It appears to be about 75' in diameter with a maximum height of 6' but part of this is probably natural. The surface is mostly turf-covered.
It has been greatly reduced and the original edge is difficult to define and has been completely removed round most of the east side. Six orthostats project from the cairn material and appear to be part of a chamber oriented ESE-WNW, entered from the former end. Three of the stones have obviously been reduced in height either by man or by natural fracturing and other stones may also have been reduced.