The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Scotland (Country) — News

Heritage 'angel' award winners revealed

The winners of the Scottish Heritage Angel awards have been revealed.

(Good to see Whithorn and in particular Leslie Merriman receive awards)

Sales (Hillfort) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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Bardshillock Wood (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

On the way down to Woodend House's cairn/cist I had a look in past Bardshillock Wood, a site near a studio where I had worked (and work) with many bands. I had always intended to visit and never found the time.

Heading west from where the B9125 becomes the B977 take the first road heading south, signposted Hirn. At the Mill Of Hirn, the studio, turn right and head south west parking at Drumfrennie Farm. From here walk the short distance south into the woods on the east/left hand side.

A hardly used track leads almost straight to the hut circle which has been built mostly below ground level. The walls are almost 2m wide and made from fairly large stones. These are now covered in turf but trees mark the site as they are just outside the huts perimeter of 8m. The height of the wall varies but it never reaches more than 0.5m. Nearby enclosures and a small cairn can hardly be seen thanks to the vegetation.

Still a nice site to get the sunny day going.

Visited 17/8/2017.

Woodend House (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Previously I had tried twice to find this place, once from the north at Trustach getting completely lost and on the second occasion getting totally drenched by falling into a burn. This time, no mistake, it was fairly dry and a different route planned.

I parked on the A93 and walked south, then south east past Woodend House along the banks of the fast flowing River Dee. The house is still being repaired after the floods of a few years ago, the same floods that washed the A93 away beyond Ballater.

Once next to the River Dee keep going until a small hut on the north side of the track. From here head straight north. Treacherous underfoot conditions because of tree cutting but ironically these help with the finding of the site. White markers circle the cairn warning the forestry people to stay clear so the site is easier spotted. It is a beautiful site with the cairn being at least 10m in width standing at 1.5m tall. Several large stones encircle the site.

A well preserved cist survives in the middle of the site, sadly its capstone lays (probably) broken nearby. Makes me wonder what the robbers removed. It is just over 1m in length, 0.5m wide and 0.6m deep being made with upright slabs.

Not wanting to make any mistakes I retraced my steps to the hut and proceeded to the A93. With the leaves changing colour the trees make an attractive scene.

Visited 17/8/2017.

Gellaig Hill (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

After visiting a few more ruinous hut circles at the Strone I headed back to were I had parked at Braenaloin. Nearby there is a gate and track heading south east. It is a decent track with only one or two steepish bits but on the whole nothing difficult. It also helped that I had a cracking day.

To the north Glen Gairn and to the north east stunning views of Morven which would get even better at the end of the climb. The cairn is on a flat plateau as the track takes a sharp turn east. From here the views and colours of Aberdeenshire are beautiful. As well as the late summer colours Morven, Bennachie, Kerloch, Clachnaben and Lochnagar can all be seen. At the bottom of the valley the River Dee glistens as it heads from Braemar to the North Sea at Aberdeen.

The cairn itself is massive like the cairns at Pittenderrich, Deecastle, Kerloch, Pressendye etc and had been missed by Canmore until Thelonius came across the site and Neil K (a keen hillwalker) wondered what it was. So I decided to have a look as well.

It sits at well over 20m wide, stones that are visible, on top of a heather covered footprint a further 1 to 2m wide all round. Sitting at 2m high a windbreak has been made (this adds another 1.5m in height to the sites appearance) which surrounds the trig point. This has been built on top of a concrete base. However this has been built on top the cairn rather than on to the ground. Also interestingly kerbs appear at regular intervals round the site.

A stunning place with stunning views, totally worthwhile and a must visit if in the area. Best of all, a team effort :-)

(A DES report has been sent to Canmore)

Visited 10/8/2017.

Sales (Hillfort) — Images

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Rupinpiccolo (Hillfort) — Images

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Scotland (Country) — News

Stonehenge builders 'ate food from Scotland'

The "army of builders" of Stonehenge ate animals brought from as far away as the north east of Scotland, according to a new exhibition at the famous Neolithic site in Wiltshire.

The Strone (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

The Strone has magnificent views of Morven and Geallaig Hill and is home to many hut circles most of which have taken a fair battering and difficult to photograph. However one still survives in reasonably good condition thanks to the use of large rocks and later construction (according to Canmore). It is 6m wide and has its 2m wide front door to the east. Water would have been supplied by the Braenaloin and Coulachan Burns, both of which run into the River Gairn to the north.

From the A93 take the B976 north, an old military road. I parked at Braenaloin and walked back up the hill to the hut circles. Handy place to park as the track that leads up to Geallaig Hill starts here as well.

Visited 10/8/2017.

Borve Chamber Cairn (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

After splashing down the hill I arrived at the road near the Sgarasta standing Stone (plus friends) and proceeded to walk north east along the A859 following the same route I'd taken to the find the track to Dun Borve. Spectacular scenery all round as the sun blinked between the clouds which created different types of atmosphere and colours to hillside, sea and sand.

There is a hard way and easy way to reach the cairn. To get there I found the hard way. The chamber cairn can be seen from the road and I immediately jumped the first fence just north of a small burn, the Allt Sta. Sadly, for me, not the best idea I've ever had as this was a boggy mess. However I made it to firmer stuff as I headed west. As the burn headed downhill I climbed a small hill to see that the cairn was only about 100 meters away.

Sadly the cairn has seen much damage but I think its still impressive. The capstone rests in front of some of the stones it probably sat on. It appeared that the standing stones were teeth and the massive capstone a tongue, prehistory sticking its tongue out to modernity. The surrounding cairn is 20m wide and it still has surviving kerbs. It is best preserved on the western side at just over 1m tall. Like a few sites nearby I wonder if erosion will finally win the day.

As I picked up my rucksack the sun once again appeared and several sites came into view. Dun Borve to the east is easily spotted with others to the north and south. To the west Taransay and much further to the west St Kilda. When you see all of these sites, its the same everywhere, you realise just how good the prehistoric peoples were at navigation. They simply used the sea and stars/landmarks as a road. That same road will take me back to St Kilda in the reasonably near future.

With that I took the simple way back to the A859 via a track which had appeared from nowhere. Another type of road which led to the ferry and road home.

Visited 5/8/2017.

S64, Scarista (Burial Chamber) — Fieldnotes

From S70 I headed north jumping several recently made streams, a couple of older and wider streams plus a few fences. All the time to the west it remained cloudy but to the north west the sun was breaking through to light up Luskentyre and its famous beaches. Gradually I was also heading downhill as I approached the remnants of another burial cairn.

The cairn at S64 is also built on a platform about 10m wide and resembles its neighbour at S70. At certain angles the site looks like a complete wreck but closer up the kerb survives quite well and the chamber inside would have been around 4m by 3m. At its tallest it is 0.4m. Down below the stone and its friends at Sgarasta can be seen which made me wonder if the two burial cairns on the hillside were connected to what many consider to be Harris's most important site.

As I made my way back down to the road the wind picked up, the sun finally came out and Borve beach could be seen. Just to the north was Borve Chamber Cairn, the final site for this trip.

Visited 5/8/2017.

S70, Scarista (Burial Chamber) — Fieldnotes

The final morning and the final three sites for this visit starting at the Scarista S70 cairn. Heading north from Leverburgh we parked near the Isle Of Harris golf course to climb up to the first of two cairns to the east of the road. Underfoot conditions were soggy as there had been a lot of rain through the night. Small streams had become torrents. However, at least the rain had stopped by the time I reached S70.

From the golf course I headed almost straight east crossing the Sgarasta Mhor. As soon as you see a fence in distance keep a look out for a green patch. This is the remnants of the cairn which at one time must have been impressive. Still impressive are the views in every direction.

Built on top of an almost 12 meter wide platform the cairn has what looks like a central cist and a ring of kerbs. Rectangular in shape it measures at 5m by 4m. Parts of the cairn reach 0.4m at their highest. As usual a fair bit of houking has occurred. It would be unfair to describe any site as my favourite but these sites looking into the Atlantic and the nearby islands are hard to beat. The weather certainly adds to the atmosphere. As I walked away to the next site the sun started to appear causing the sea to change colour and the beaches of Luskentyre to shine.

With the scenery in full morning mode I splashed my way to the next site.

Visited 5/8/2017.

Scarista - S56 (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

There seems to be stone rows aplenty in these West Harris shorelines. Scarista has three, but I only found one and like I've said a few times before when I get back I'll look again.

This stone row is made up of three small boulders, a fourth stone could well be missing but could also be covered in turf. Horgabost has similar sites.

It was time to head back to Rodel after an exhausting day, the next day would be the last day of the trip.

Visited 4/8/2017.

Scarista S-51 (Platform Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Situated very close, about 50-60 meters north, to the standing stone and mound is a wee platform cairn. It is about 15m wide and no more than 0.2m tall. Only the west side of the platform can be seen, the rest being turf covered.

Visited 4/8/2017.

Sgarasta (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Heading back from Hashinish we stopped to have a look at what many say is Harris's most important prehistoric site. It certainly has the views and a lot of other sites can be seen from here, some very close indeed. The stone might be lonely but it certainly is by itself as hard to spot sites are in the same field.

It is a tremendous site, surrounded by burial cairns high above to the east and the Borve Chamber cairn. Just to the coast side of the stone there is mound that is almost 12m wide and up to 1m tall. It is made up of earth and small stones and what appear to be a couple of buried kerbs.

I was told to look in the field and I'm glad I did as I found a couple of other sites. Reporting back to my informant I was told I should have looked harder. As Tjj says 'it is a place full of wonderful surprises'. Next time!

Visited 4/8/2017.

Dun Borve (Stone Fort / Dun) — Fieldnotes

Toe Head certainly left an impression on me and I'll definitely be back but Dun Borve was calling so I retraced my steps back to Northton and the A859. I also retraced my steps back to Croft 36, obviously I needed sustenance.

Once back on the A859 I walked north following the road past Scarista, which I'd visit later in the day, the golf course and the still clouded Sound Of Taransay. Just to the north east of the sites at Scarista there is a handily placed sign post indicating the track to Dun Borve, very handy indeed.

This track isn't in very good condition, however marker poles lead to the dun which is easily spotted as a prominent rocky landmark.

Walls surrounding the site are measured at over 14m and some of it remains built, a testament to their, the Iron Age peoples, building skills. The entrance to the dun is in the east leading to a circular turf patch indicating some type of building, enclosure or forecourt. Various buildings have been attached to the walls i.e. sheiling huts, wind breaks. Like Canmore I think it is also a dun as it is a small area for a complicated and larger structure such as a broch. A superb place for a look out as it looks to the Sound Of Taransay to the north, the Atlantic to the west and the mountains of South Harris to the east. It is also, more importantly, looks over the largest expanse of fertile land in South Harris. This explains the prehistory, all the graveyards and The Coffin Road.

Also in the area are cup marked rocks. Tiompan has kindly posted some these to this site page.

Another wonderful place, is there no end of them here? I missed the south direction earlier, as there is another dun and possibly cairns to the south, a considerable walk which I'll do next time. Time to walk back south to Rodel avoiding the camper vans whilst admiring the landscape. Later on it was up to Hashinish, now that is a road!

Visited 4/8/2017.

Toe Head (Broch) — Links


Details of the excavations and some lovely aerial photos.

Toe Head (Broch) — Fieldnotes

From Croft 36, Northton, keep heading north until the road and village end at a gate. Beyond is a track which has lots of farm machinery old and new abandoned at the track side. Keep following the track taking the second track going west. Should be said that the track from Northton to Toe Head is very good and fairly flat. This will lead straight to the broch on the western edge of Ceapabhal. The scenery is of course stunning, the first part of the walk looks onto the Sound of Taransay, the second part has the rugged coastline and the Atlantic. All the time Ceapabhal watches over the comings and goings.

All the prehistoric ages are represented here with evidence of Mesolithic through to the Iron Age. Traces of these can be found nearby as settlements, rock art etc have been found along the coast to the south. My next trip to Harris will involve a walk looking for them, todays main aim was the broch at Toe Head.

A lot of the broch still stands. Sadly for it, it stands as part of the ruined chapel Rubh’ an Teampuill, point of the temple. Other parts of the broch can be seen on this lonely promontory. The site is built on the highest part of the promontory with traces of wall to the north. In fact traces of the wall can be seen all round the church suggesting it must have been huge, some of the walls must have almost 1.5 wide. As well as being used for the church, stonework had been used to build a dry stane dyke on Ceapabhal. To the west end erosion has taken place, the cause of this being easy to see. Weather changes here quickly and wind had grown very strong, the sea very rough. After a decent look round it was time to get the feet moving again.

Wonderful place and a place to let the imagination run wild, or in my case run riot. Next stop, the long hike to the stunning Dun Borve.

Visited 4/8/2017.

Cambridgeshire — News

'Most important' Ely Bronze Age gold torc on display

One of England's "most important Bronze Age finds" has gone on display for the first time near to where it was found.

Lewis and Harris — News

Archaeology worth £4m to Western Isles' economy

Standing stones that are 5,000 years old are helping to boost the Western Isles economy by £4m a year, according to a new report.

Carn An MacAskill (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

About a mile up the road, on the A859 heading north from Kyle's Lodge, is Carn An MacAskill. The morning was still very moody but it didn't rain which ensured truly fantastic views towards the Sound Of Taransay, Ceapabhal (home to Toehead Broch) and the village of Northton could all be seen. Cloudy weather seems to add to the atmosphere especially when it starts to clear so different countryside colours can be seen, including the colour of the sea.

About 200 meters (south) before the road to Northton jump the fence and head to the top of the wee hill to the east. A small walkers cairn will led me to the site.

Some kerbs can be seen in the 6m wide cairn which has a height of about 0.5m. As usual there appears to be some houking damage. An impressive and scenic site.

Time to head to Croft 36 for a tremendous hot pie, a small diversion on the way to Toehead :-)

Visited 4/8/2017.

Kyle's Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Another early start on a dampish morning started at the Kyle's Lodge Cairn just to the north west of Leverburgh. There is a tarred road heading south west from the A859 and I walked until the corner just before the roads end.

The cairn is situated just above the road on a small platform and has several kerbs still standing. It is about 6m wide and 0.6m tall with impressive views over to Ensay, whose standing stone can be seen in the distance.

A fine place to watch various wildlife and ships/boats in the bay. Soon, maybe to soon, I was in full flow heading towards Northton.

Visited 4/8/2017.

Thing's Va (Broch) — Links


More about the Iron Age Broch.

Thing's Va (Broch) — News

Possible evidence of Norse parliament site near Thurso

Possible evidence of a medieval Norse parliament meeting place may have been found at an archaeological site in the Highlands.

Scotland (Country) — News

Heritage 'angel' contenders across Scotland revealed

A shortlist of 12 nominees in four different categories has been revealed for the annual Scottish Heritage Angel Awards.

Whithorn Roundhouse worth a vote but then again they are all excellent.
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Still doing the music, following that team, drinking far to much and getting lost in the hills! (Some Simple Minds, Glasvegas, Athlete, George Harrison, Empire Of The Sun, Nazareth on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

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