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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Dumbarrow Hill (Stone Fort / Dun)

Dumbarrow provided its builders with three sides of natural defences. The north side is very steep and during our visit being attacked by marauding sheep, the south slightly less steep and the west, once again slightly less steep. The west also appears to have an entrance not noted by Canmore. However the main entrance is in the east with facing stones clearly marking the doorway. Once again I disagree with Canmore. I think the east had defences natural or man made. The farmer at nearby Dumbarrow Farm confirmed that many dry stane dykes in the area had been built from stones from the dun and nearby long gone cairns.

One thing that cannot be disputed is the impressive views in all areas especially the snow covered mountains to the west glistening in the distance. Myths of King Nechtan (see folklore) and famous battles surround this area. Certainly at the time when we visited, fast approaching darkness, the dun had an atmosphere of otherworldliness.

From Friockheim we headed south on the A933, then the B961 west, take the minor road north west at the first crossroads, go over Dumbarrow bridge, past Dumbarrow Farm and take the road north east to Hillkirk. We were given permission by the farmer to park who told us about the destruction of nearby cairns and the removal of stones during the 1800s. The dun, in its wonderful location, is to the north east of the farm buildings.

Visited 28/12/2017.

Cairn Knap (Cairn(s))

After taking our time and absorbing the wonderful cairn and views at Guthrie Hill we moved on further south near to the small town of Friockheim. We parked at the towns cemetery and walked south on a decent track into Friock Wood. Follow the track to the southern border of the wood, the cairn is in the middle of the field. Easy to get to with no climbs and no fences.

The cairn is surrounded by a dry stane dyke, which sadly, has fallen a little on the north west. This allows access to the cairn. Like Guthrie it has taken a battering, unlike Guthrie it has managed to retain its shape. Described by some as a round cairn it has been quarried, houked and excavated but still remains 30m wide and 3m high. The excavations also show quite a lot of cairn material allowing us to see how the site was built. It also revealed two cists that contained human bones.

Trees have also fallen giving an extra sense of age. It is good that even in an agricultural area sites like this still survive. Excellent place!!

Visited 28/12/2017.

Milton (Cairn(s))

This cairn has seen some very severe treatment but it still hangs on which is something of a miracle. Nothing but the outer edge can be seen over 12m wide. The outer edge itself is almost 2m wide and is no more that 0.2m high. However it does almost surround the site. A scatter of cairn material also remains. Nothing remains of the cist except perhaps one large stone. The poor cairn was almost completely houked out. Strange now that forestry now protects it.

Getting here is a challenge, a good adventure. We parked near the Pityoulish Standing Stone and walked up the track heading uphill and south east past several cottages. The distance maybe short but this did take into account valleys and small rivers. At the first big corner in the track (once in the wood) head down towards the Milton Burn, A waded across, B jumped (being a dog very easy) and I skilfully clambered across a fallen tree. Head uphill until a fence, climb over and head north east. The cairn is in a small clearing with a tree in its middle.

Despite it having a nightmare of a time this place has a good vibe. Getting to it was easy compared to what was to come.

Visited 23/12/2017.

Pityoulish (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Directions are obviously the same with the exception that the stone can be much seen much more easily. It now has guards (3 of them) of honour, the remnants of Pityoulish Woods.

Cheers Strathie.

Re-visited 23/12/2016.

Creag Garten (Hillfort)

Creag Garten has always been high on my list of places to see being situated in one of my favourite areas looking south on to the Cairngorms.

We parked, nice chap the farmer who allowed us to park and gave us directions, at the Gartenbeg Farm. From there we headed north to some old sheds near a brand new gate which gained us entry to the Deishar Wood/Gartenbeg Plantation without jumping any fences. From here we headed north west and cross country to the top of the hill. Creag Garten has impressive northern defences, a sheer drop. It would have had impressive views north and south, and will again when the trees are chopped down. Sadly most of the walls have fallen, however entrances can be seen to the east, with 2 entrances on the west.

According to Canmore the fort is D shaped, presumably the shape of the wee hill its on. It measures 20m by 15m.

A fine way to start another hike in the Highlands.

Visited 23/12/2017.

Guthrie Hill (Cairn(s))

What a wonderful place Guthrie Hill is with wonderful all round views with beautiful winter weather to match. Despite the obvious fact that the cairn has taken a severe battering it is an impressive place.

We headed east on the B9113 before heading south on the fourth minor road, signposted Guthrie. Parking just to the south of the Hilton Of Guthrie (farm) we headed south west and uphill to the top of Guthrie Hill. Situated at the top is the well damaged cairn. It was nice to see that the trig was placed a short distance downhill (to the east).

What remains is a site over 20m width and is just over 1m high (south) tapering to 0.3m (north). Some stones can be seen in the south. It is also nice to say that the farmer seems to be keeping well clear of the site. Long may he/she do so!

Great way to start a wee visit to Angus on the way down to Dundee.

Visited 28/12/2017.

Auchlee (Ring Cairn)

I walked from the re-constructed cairn at Cairnwell, Badentoy Industrial Estate back down onto the verge of the A90 heading south to the Cairnwell junction. From here I headed west to Auchlee Farm. Having had a couple of dealings with farmer before I was glad that I jumped the fence just before the farm and headed north towards the cairn which is as Les describes.

From there I headed up to the Boswell Monument to look for more smaller cairns. Sadly most of these seem to have been tree ploughed out. I kept heading west until I could see the junction of two minor roads. Sadly for me before I reached the road I managed to jump straight into a ditch, waist high, near the road.

It was a very long squelchy walk back to the car. Not helping much, it started to get frosty. Still, back in one bit, change of clothes, all good fun.

Visited 14/12/2017.

Market Knowe (Cairn(s))

As Old Sweetie says there is conjecture about what type of cairn this, I'll go for a well battered Wessex Cairn surrounded by a ditch. Stones can be felt and seen in this cairn. A good time of year to go as I'd imagine this site would have a fair covering of brambles making any description difficult.

Early tourists from Italy appear to have been in the area as the site is locally known as Roman Knowe. In their day this would have been an impressive monument, it still is being over 30m wide, 2m high and a ditch averaging between 2 and 4m wide surrounds. Now it is mainly grass covered but cairn material can be seen.

From the wee village of Knapp head south east taking the second minor road heading straight east. The Falcon Stone can be seen in the field to the south. Follow this road to the junction and take the road south taking the first road east. Car parking is available at the Huntly Wood car park. From here walk east as the cairn is in Huntly Wood, behind a row of houses.

A nice and easy way to end the day.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Dron Hill (Sacred Hill)

Not wanting to upset MatTheCat but he did somewhat achieve a miracle by not taking any pictures of the ramparts on this hill. It is most definitely a hillfort. What it was used for is another question though. Sacred possibly, special definitely.

A triple set of ramparts, especially on the west, used to stand here but they have all sadly been much reduced in size. However the outer rampart does manage to encircle the top of the hill. Entrances, and they still have facing stones, are on the east and west sides.

This is a truly fantastic site with superb views south to all of the Fife Forts (on a clear day) and Dundee Law. Adding to atmosphere, for my visit, driving snow, wind and low clouds which made the fort even more life like as it appeared the clouds were surrounding us. (that might have been the previous nights exploits talking!)

We parked at Dron Farm, near the remnants of a church, and walked south back to the junction of two roads. Head west on a farm track and keep going until the track ends. Through the gate and jump a fence then climb to the top of the hill. You will have walked straight into the fort.

Fantastic place, fantastic hillfort and added snow making it all very wintery.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Hill Of Dores (Hillfort)

Hill Of Dores is a hillfort associated with Macbeth and a castle. The castle apparently never existed, the hillfort most certainly does.

From Dronley we headed west back onto the A923 and made our way to the car park near the bottom of Dores Hill. It is also the car park for the Laird's Loch fishery. By this time the weather had completely changed.

With snow getting heavier and heavier we made our way along the track to the fishery. Just as we neared the end of the track we headed uphill through the trees to summit, which houses the fort.

On three sides there are steep slopes but we approached from the west which, fairly difficult because of the trees, is less steep. The massive fort is almost 100m in length and well over 50m wide being oval shaped. A lot of the rampart has been destroyed but the forestry people have marked the ramparts by leaving parts of tree trunk giving an idea of a wooden palisade. Good idea this!

With the snow getting heavier we made our way back down, still heading south west but via a different route taking us back onto the A923 about a 1/2 mile west of the car park.

It is no secret that I love the snow. Along with heavy cloud the snow gives a different otherworldly atmosphere. Fortunately Macbeth did not appear.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Dronley House (Artificial Mound)

To the south west corner of Dronley House Wood there is a very large artificial mound measuring almost 30, wide and 3m high. Unfortunately it has received the normal houking but it still retains its shape. It is completely covered in turf. Some people still use it, offerings of holly and flowers have been attached to the branches of the trees.

In the middle of Birkhill, on the A923, take the minor road heading north. Keep going north over the split crossroads until the first wood. The mound can be seen from the road to the east.

Nice easy start to the day.

Visited 29/12/2017.

Cairnwell Ring Cairn (Stone Circle)

On a beautiful and chilly Aberdeenshire day I walked back down the hill, from Craighead, and along Badentoy Avenue to beautifully reconstructed Cairnwell Ring Cairn.

The snow highlights and enhances the ring cairn. Some of the stones for the reconstruction were 'gifted' by the farmer Auchlee. More likely he wanted rid of them and this was convenient.

Well worth a visit if in the area. Plenty prehistory nearby!

Visited 14/12/2017.

Craighead (Stone Circle)

I parked at Portlethen Golf Course and walked up the track, or skating rink, heading north up School Hill, the other name for Craighead.

It is a strange site and every time I come here I think something different. Three of the stones are probably from the original circle, the tallest of which could well be in its original place. Sadly three others were taken away to become gateposts or had a meeting with a stone crusher. The fourth, more pointy stone, was put up during the mid 1850s. According to the farmer at Auchlee it was a rubbing stone removed from a nearby hill.

A beautiful clear day with some snow. Wonderful!

Visited 14/12/2017.

Clerkhill Wood (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

With Storm Caroline for company obviously the best place to go for a walk was Clerkhill Wood near Bridge Of Don, Aberdeen.

From the Bridge of Don take the B997 north west taking the first minor road heading south, signposted Whitestripes (love that name!) and Grandhome. Go past the next minor road and pull in just at the next wood. There is a forest walk and it can be easily found. Sadly just look for all the empty tins (and other evidence of a fairly wild party) and you have reached the start of walk.

Follow the track straight west following the dry stane dykes which lead to Clerkhill Wood, once past the rubbish dump at the start, a very nice walk.

NJ 9078 1190 This is the best preserved hut circle and is an impressive size. It is almost 10m wide with walls well over 4m in width and in some places almost 1m high. The trees standing on these walls almost mark out the site. To the south the front door is almost 1.5m wide.

NJ 9079 1192 Going by my ratings this is the second best hut circle and is only a short distance from NJ9078 1190, only just over 20m to its centre. It also is 10m in width but has seen better days. The walls are about 3m in thickness and almost 0.3m high. Once again trees sit atop these walls.

Both of these sites are just to the north of the track. The third hut circle is to the south.

NJ 9077 1183 On the 'drew scale ratings' this is least preserved hut circle. Difficult to find it is just over 6m wide and has walls up 3m wide which come to height of 0.2m at its highest with trees sitting top. From its neighbours it is 60m to the south.

I walked to the southern edge of the wood, following the track, and found a view of the place were I used to work except instead of an office and a couple of warehouse there are thousands of houses stretching from Stoneywood, all through Mugiemoss (home to quite a few paper mills), Danestone and up to Bridge Of Don with more going up all the time. Sad really!

However Clerkhill Wood, worth a further visit I think.

Visited 7/12/2017.

Norrie's Law (Cairn(s))

The last stop of another fine say in Fife was at the Norrie's Law cairn with its magnificent views of the Firth Of Forth to the south, Craig Law to the east, the flaring of the refinery at Grangemouth and the River Forth to the west. Some less than superb views of fir trees are to the north. Still 3 out of 4 is pretty good.

Situated right next to a farm track, the cairn is housed in by a fence which looks equally prehistoric. I jumped the fence as if I opened the gate it looked like it might never recover. Despite being overgrown it is an impressive place and with night fast falling the views and silence added to the atmosphere. The flare to the west only indicating how dark it really was, also it indicated how beacons would have worked back in olden days.

It still sits at almost 20m wide and is around 4m high.

From the centre of Ceres take the minor road south then take the first minor road east. After a wee wood take the first farm track south which will lead straight to the cairn. A nice way to end the day.

Visited 27/10/2017.

Down Law (Hillfort)

Down Law is situated to the east of Bowden Hill but it reminded me of the fort much further east at Sales, near Trieste in North East Italy. The big difference being Sales is covered in trees and Down Law is covered in short grass. Like Sales, Down Law has huge ramparts/ditches all over the place covering the top of the hill except on the north. The north side makes use of the natural defences with other defences being simply attached.

The entrance is on the south side and it is impressive in size. At least 3-4m wide, the ramparts are easily 2m in height and 3-4m wide. More but slightly smaller ramparts can be found to the west. Sadly, clearly visible quarrying has destroyed part of the western section. Even on top of the hill there is a small ditch that surrounds the fort. Also dotted round the edge are boulders which, presumably, would have been used to bolster a wooden palisade. Inside the fort there appears to an enclosure of sorts.

Sadly you sometimes have to wonder at the positioning of buildings and masts, right next to the fort to the north are the aforementioned eyesores. Still they do provide an excellent location marker.

Maybe not as big as some forts, but for Fife this is massive and it made me wonder how important this place was.

As we made our way back down we all noticed that the temperature had dropped considerably. From double figures it had plummeted to down to 4. Away to the north west a friend had texted from Aviemore to say that it was snowing. My favourite conditions are on the way :-)

Normally I would have gone cross country from Bowden Hill as there are no real obstacles in the way but since there was a group of us we took to the road. Head north from Bowden following the road as it swings east until a crossroads. Take the road south, very twisty, until the aptly named Fort Fishery is seen. Plenty room to park, head down the hill looking for a gate near the office and then head back up hill through the entrance into a series of wonderful ramparts.

Fantastic site!

Visited 27/10/2017.

Bowden Hill (Hillfort)

Bowden Hill has wonderful views of The Lomonds to the west, Down Law to the east, Normans Law/Green Craig to the north and the Firth Of Forth to the south.

Sadly there is very little traces of fort now except for some on the western slopes which are almost impossible to photograph. However changes of colour in the grass give an idea of how large the fort was. The builders also had the good sense to use the slopes on three sides to their advantage. To the east Down Law might have given protection or a place of safe haven. Whatever Down Law was to Bowden is uncertain but it was going to be our next stop.

Just south east of the village of Balmalcolm on the A914 take the next road east which will then swing south. Follow the sign to the small village of Kettlehill and keep going till this road ends. At the junction head north, Bowden Hill being the first hill. At the bottom of the hill there is a track that provides enough room to park. Stunning all round views at the top.

Visited 27/10/2017.

Lady Mary's Wood (Hillfort)

Lady Mary's Fort must have been some place back in the Iron Age nestling under the summit of nearby Walton Hill. Also in the fort is a mausoleum which is in various states of decay.

Despite the vegetation I thought the ramparts and ditches were easily enough found especially to the south east were there are multiple lines of defence and a possible entrance. Another possible entrance is to the north west, our entrance, with an inner rampart almost encircling the whole fort. Steep slopes to the east also were used in the construction. Canmore must have had a bad time of it but we certainly found more defences despite the vegetation. Perhaps falling into them helped.

Head south east from Cupar on the A914 taking the second minor road south. At the first corner park and look north. Inside the wood is the fort (and mausoleum). Follow the track through the field until the wood. Unwittingly we walked all the way round and approached from near the top of Walton Hill and therefore took a more northerly approach which also showed the steep slopes of the northern section. Near the small lakes eastern end look for a small path which leads straight to the centre of the fort over one of the ramparts we found (or fell into).

From the forts east side take path to the edge of the wood which obviously was the path we should have taken but it was a good mistake to make. Heading back south west towards our parking spot we were treated to beautiful views of The Lomonds, the dominant high spots of Fife.

Visited 27/10/2017.

Dun Dearduil South (Hillfort)

Just to the south west and slightly downhill from Dearduils highest point, home to the wonderful North fort, is another fort. This one, however, hasn't aged quite so well.

A lot of the walls have fallen down the slopes but rough boulders still surround the fort especially to the south. Canmore suggests these walls could have been up to 5m wide surrounding an area up to 31m in length and 26m wide.

After that it was find a nice spot for something to eat and a easier route in which to walk or fall down the hill. Mr T and myself showing how to fall down holes and Mrs T showing how to stay upright.

Visited 24/10/2017.

Westerton (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Follow Mr Brands directions and you will find that the stone and its cup marks haven't moved. We couldn't see the man on the stone so presumably he has moved on. Quite what this man was up to I'm not clearly sure but it looks like some kind of fertility symbol. The picture on the link seems get a grip of the situation.

The stone has been fenced in and the entrance is near the wall.

Visited 26/10/2017.
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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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