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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Carnduncan (Cairn(s))

After the mornings battering at Frachdale it was good to get back to base camp at Cragabus and get patched up. The afternoon would be spent heading towards Cultoon in the north west of the island with a few stops either side, some of which were nothing to do with prehistory.

The first stop of the afternoon was the excellent cairn at Carnduncan. Sitting next to the B8018 just beyond Carnduncan Farm this cairn is very easily spotted.

It still sits at 17m wide and at its highest is 1.7m tall. It has a fantastic if somewhat broken kerb of fine stones, some stones probably kerbs, also rest nearby. Good to see in Canmore's notes that children from local schools were used in several surveys.

Nearby sites at Loch Gorm, across the road, stand a fair chance of being visited next time I'm here.

Visited 1/8/2018.

Frachdale (Chambered Cairn)

The distance between Coille A'chnoic Mhoir and the chamber cairn at Frachdale might appear short, it is as the crow flies. From the standing stone it looks if you go west, in fact you go south.

The start of the walk is fine until very tall ferns are reached, there is no sign of a track so batter a way though until a fence is reached. Frachdale sits on top of wee hill, basically taunting the hard pressed visitor. I jumped the fence and landed straight into a stream up to my waist in boggy stinking water, pulled myself out and promptly tripped into other one. One good thing was that the heat meant that I dried reasonably quick, but the smell......dearie me!! I made way to the west end of the hill and climbed up to the top were I found the turf covered cairn.

Most of the cairn material has been taken away leaving just the largest of the stones that make up the Clyde Type cairn. Originally 15 metres wide some kerbs do remain but the real remnants are in the centre. Two badly damaged sections remain, in a chamber that was almost 4m long and 1m wide. One dividing stone creates the sections. Side slabs also remain in place. This must have been some place, it still is with the tremendous views east and north east.

Also from the top of this wee hill a track and the ruined Frachdale croft can be seen in the east. However to get there is a complete nightmare. Instead of going back the way I'd came I headed east quickly encountering very small trees, with no way over I crawled underneath until a small burn, crossed this, kept crawling and eventually stood up when I encountered ferns. Keep heading north east until a small burn is encountered, same one as before with the same result with the added bonus of smashing my leg against a hidden rock. Eventually I pulled myself up, climbed the fence and found the track which led past Frachdale Croft to Kintra.

Fortunately no cuts but by the time I'd got back to Kintra my legs had turned blue. Frachdale Cairn is not an easy place to get to unless something is done about the vegetation.

Well known sprays and liquidy freeze stuff were about to get used. However it had been a wonderful morning!!

Visited 1/8/2018.

Coille A'chnoic Mhoir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Coille A'chnoic Mhoir has stunning views west, south and east (Laggan Bay and the Paps of Jura are simply stunning).

From the cairn at Cnoc Mor Ghrasdail simply walk south until a small mound, on its south side is the standing stone. No views north :-)

Quite an easy downhill walk on spongy bone dry heather leads to the 1.2m high stone. Sometimes the most simple of sites have the most stunning locations. This is one of them.

However the conditions were about to change with the walk to the fairly nearby chamber cairn.

Visited 1/8/2018.

Cnoc Mor Ghrasdail (Cairn(s))

The walk from Dun A Chail west to the cairn at Cnoc Mor Ghrasdail comes in three sections. The first is easy enough except for the steepish climb up to the level overlooking the fort, next comes a wee flat bit before a climb amongst trees/bramble bushes which eventually is ended by a fence. From here head to the top of the hill bouncing on the spongy heather. Hot work considering the temperature.

Once at the top views are stunning, north to Port Charlotte, the Paps of Jura are clearly visible to the east, south is the Oa and to the west the Atlantic.

The cairn stands at over 10m wide and is 1m tall at its highest. The probable cist cover remains in the centre of the site with its debatable cup marks still in place. Canmore suggest that this might have been an anvil at some point. Also on the site is a climber's or shepherd's cairn. I counted at least 10 stones of the kerb still in place.

Another truly stunning location.

Visited 1/8/2018.

Dun A Chail (Stone Fort / Dun)

From Kintra follow the track heading west and keep going until it veers south, keep going until the first corner then head west. On a gorgeous early morning the Kintra coastline is a wonderful place to be. Even better, the local green keepers i.e. the sheep had done their job perfectly keeping the grass very short. Even better still, it was warm!

After a fairly short walk a beach will be seen with an easy slope to leading down. Beautiful views north towards Port Charlotte can be seen with the hills beyond. To the east side of the bay is Dun a Chail, probably the most beautiful place I'd been to in 2018.

The dun is overshadowed by a small pointy hill which probably helped its eastern defence. A small grassy covered stairway leads to the entrance which was being used when I arrived by exiting sheep. Cleverly the Iron Age peoples made use of the natural walls incorporating them into the man made walls. Sadly some of the walls have collapsed on either side of the dun. It is approximately 12m in length being just over 6m wide. To the west there is the perfect natural harbour called Laggan Bay, to the east a somewhat rockier effort.

Not many people come here nowadays and maybe that is a good thing as it is a truly remarkable place. It was also is the first place I'd been to for a long time where I'd seen no rubbish.

Wonderful, wonderful site.

Visited 1/8/2018.

Carragh Bhan (Standing Stone / Menhir)

After a fantastic day in Jura and relatively easy walks it was time for a 'drewbhoy special' but before I got to Kintra there was the Carragh Bhan to visit.

It can be found on a tiny wee hill, west, next to the minor road. A large slab, almost like the Millplough recumbent near Inverbervie (Aberdeenshire), it stands having magnificent all round views and is 2.2m by 2.2m, almost square.

A good start on a beautiful day.

Visited 1/8/2018.

Camas an Staca (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Many people would visit the standing stone of Camas an Staca first when they arrive on Jura, we decided to visit it last to leave a stunning impression on the island, to be fair all of Jura is stunning!!

The Camas is a huge standing stone probably put there as a marker to safe nearby landing places to ancient seafarers. It is the biggest standing stone on Jura.

We parked at the large passing place to the north west of the stone beside a wood. Walking back towards Craighouse there is a large deer gate, go through and walk south west. After about 200 meters the standing stone appears from nowhere . A lot of people say the stone is built on a cairn but once again I agree with Canmore and think its field clearance. I'd love to be wrong.

The views are simply stunning as Islay's steep mid east coast line can be seen, the famous McArthur's Point Lighthouse gleaming in the distance with the island of Am Froach Eilean in the bay.

So that was Jura, roll on 2020!

Visited 31/7/2018.

Carragh a' Ghlinne (Stone Row / Alignment)

Heading south from Craighouse go past some warehouses and then park at tghe first track heading towards the north west. Plenty room to park as their appears to be cemetery for old vehicles.

However the track is a wonderful and atmospheric walk through some fairly flat countryside until a sole standing stone can be seen. Sadly three of its friends have long since fallen and the well used phrase 'gentle restoration' entered my head as they are all clearly visible. It would create a momentous site if it happened.

The remaining stone stands at 2.4m with a well weathered cup mark near its base with the other stones appearing, to me, to be of similar length.

It must have been some place, it still is.

Visited 31/7/2018.

Knockrome 3 (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The third of the Knockrome standing stones is quite difficult to see but not to difficult to find.

After walking back from the second stone I headed back to the landing strip and headed back up the track to the minor road. About two-thirds of the way up I headed east into the fairly long grass which has clumps of gorse/furze and small trees dotted about. Pick your way through these whilst gradually heading north, about 20 metres north of where the standing stone hides is the minor road, the other side of a hedge.

Beautiful views out to Loch Na Mile and the island of Eilean Bhride. If you look through the branches of the tree you'll catch glimpses of the Paps Of Jura. A well shaped stone it stands at 1.35m tall.

4 standing stones in a small area, not bad. Another standing stone at Leargybreck and nearby forts will have to wait till 2020 to feel my boots.

Visited 31/7/2018.

Knockrome 2 (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The second of the Knockrome stones we visited is quite easy to find. From Burnside we walked in a westerly direction until the track that leads down to the islands airstrip which looks directly into the beautiful Loch Na Mile.

Walk west along the airstrip and keep looking towards the Paps of Jura. The stone can clearly be seen a about 100 metres to the north on the edge of a small ditch.

It stands at over 1.5m tall and with its near neighbour does mark a place for the prehistoric peoples to land their small boats. Who knows?, they are certainly in the right location.

Visited 31/7/2018.

Knockrome 1 (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Coming back down the road from Ardfernal we turned north west to Burnside Farm. After climbing a couple of gates we spotted the standing stone in the distance.

Much to our amazement the standing stone walked away to reveal another standing stone. We had spied a cows backside.

The remaining stone, once much closer up didn't move, stands at almost 1m high. Some chokes can be seen.

Tremendous all round views, including the island of Eilean Bhride to the south in the Bay of Small Isles.

Fine wee stone!

Visited 31/7/2018.

Ardfernal (Standing Stone / Menhir)

One of the most stunning locations I've ever been to, same with nearby stones, are the standing stones at Knockrome and Ardfernal. To be fair the weather was on our side.

There is more than one road on Jura, from the A846 take the minor road signposted Knockrome and keep going until Ardfernal. After asking permission to park, at the 'ferm toun' we crossed the fields heading slightly north.

The stone stands at 1.2m high and has simply glorious views.

Visited 31/7/2018.

Carragh Chaluim Bhainn (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The standing stone, Carragh Chalium Bhainn, is a short walk on track and short grass towards Tarbert Bay, being situated in the old graveyard called Cill Chalium-chille.

It stands at an impressive lichen covered 2m in height amongst stunning all round scenery.

Beautiful place, a thoughtful place.

Visited 31/7/2018.

Tarbert (Standing Stones)

As Carl describes the stone is a beauty standing at over 2.5m tall with beautiful views into Tarbert Bay. Round the base of the stone appears to be some chokes and possibly the remains of a cairn but more likely it's some field clearance.

A great place to visit and another stone in the nearby chapel grounds to the east.

Visited 31/7/2018.

Clachan Ceann Ile (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Legend has it that Islay is named after these stones and a Danish princess called Yula, another legend could have been added in that despite being reasonably close to the road, the further west of the stones is a complete nightmare to find.

I parked at Loch a Chnuic, a gorgeous sea loch as the the evening began to come in. Walk back east until the corner begins to straighten.

NR43714 48328 The smallest of the stones sits next to the fence to the west of the road. It is around 0.75m in height.

NR4369 4832 This is the stone that marks the grave of Princess Yula, it almost marked my final spot. Batter west through trees, bramble branches, fallen trees from the stone near the road. I did, saw the stone and promptly fell down the slope it sits atop. The stone is literally on the edge and must have had fantastic views to wards the south, Ireland is would be visible from here if it wasn't for the trees. A wonderfully shaped stone it sits at over 1.5m tall and is very well hidden amongst the greenery, which gives a sense as well.

So a hard but beautiful place to find. Watch your feet, or my case my knees. Another day in Islay done, next stop Jura!!!

Visited 30/7/2018.

Ardilistry (Stone Circle)

Continuing south from Kildalton it was time to look for Ardilistry Stone Circle. Like Merrick says the stones are tiny and difficult it find. Finding the stones was easier than the nightmare getting to them.

I parked to the west of the stones in a very large passing place and spied what looked like a path heading east. Also taking note of Merricks advice I put on wellingtons. Sadly the so called path led straight to ditch which I promptly stood in with water going above my knees. Undaunted I headed east to the small rise on which the stones are housed.

The stones are small, tallest is 0.5m and one of them, the west, has been damaged. It is an attractive site, it has an atmosphere, it is odd and I loved it despite the squelchy sound coming from watery feet.

Visited 30/7/2018.

Creagan Na Ceardaich Moire (Hillfort)

Heading south west from Trudernish we headed towards Kildalton Church and a surprise bonus when I saw the fort marked on the OS map.

From the church car park look north and fort can be seen on a small hill in the middle of a boggy field. A gate directly opposite the car park makes access very easy.

Access to fort is from the south west between some massive boulders, the main entrance being to the north east with a gap in the rocks being almost 2m wide. A lot of stones can be seen at the bottom of the hill suggesting that the wall has fallen or pushed (to make nearby dry stane dykes). It is roughly a rectangle in shape being 38m by 22m. Good all round views but not really the best defensive place I've ever seen. Anyhow enough time to look at the nearby church before heading further south.

A fine place.

Visited 30/7/2018.

Trudernish (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Heading back south from the fort at Dun An Rudha Bhuide, Trudernish Standing Stone is to the east of the road. I pulled in just to the south next to a wood, jumped the gate and headed back north.

The local residents i.e. the sheep seemed quite content to escort me the short distance to the stone. Very impressive it is, standing at 2m tall. There are no markings on the stone which has clear sight of the fort to the south east. The fort will have to wait another day for my feet to reach there.

Visited 30/7/2018.

Dun An Rudha Bhuide (Stone Fort / Dun)

Go to the end of the A846 at Ardbeg and go straight onto the minor road. Keep going until it ends as it heads north east. Jump over the gate and head north east, climbing slowly. After about a 1/4 mile Dun An Rubha Bhuide will be seen.

This is a tremendous fort with three lines of wall for defence and a natural harbour just to the north. Each wall is over 2m wide and on the outer, a gap which I stumbled through is probably the entrance. Like a lot of forts here, walls have been built to fill in natural defences.

Also there is, like a few other forts I visited, higher ground nearby i.e the direction I came from. So not much protection from the north, hence the walls.

But this is a beautiful place and its the end of the road (tarred).

Visited 30/7/2018.

Glac A' Charraigh (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The next day dawned and despite it being overcast it was fairly dry. (that, of course, would change) I had always wanted to see the American monument at west point of the Oa peninsula so we walked from Cragabus to the site.

This is near to were the troopship Turcania was torpedoed and another troopship, the Otranto, sank. (1918)

On the way back I had a look for the standing stone at Glac A'Charraigh. Sadly the stone has fallen since its last visitor in 1977. Originally it stood at almost 2m high but now one of the chokes stands guard, a marker, as this would almost be impossible to find.

From west of the site as the road heads north I jumped the fence and headed north east until I luckily spotted the choke stone. To get back to the road head north bypassing the wee hill.

A bleak place on a bleak day. By now the rain had arrived. A drenching was on its way!

Visited 30/7/2018.
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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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