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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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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.

Sron Dubh (Promontory Fort)

The final stop of a glorious day traipsing around Cragabus and Port Ellen concluded at the promontory fort Sron Dubh.

Follow the road south from Druim Nam Madagan until it ends at the A846 and head slightly east towards Port Ellen. A track, a mixture of bog, remnants of bonfires, dry bits and sea shells heads south leading to the fort. By this time night was coming down, a hint of mist, the sea was eerily calm and there was total silence. This is a beautiful place, situated between The Ard (a fort I visited) and Portintruan (another fort to be visited next time). Fine views of Texa, the island to the south east.

With a natural harbour near to the fort and some steep cliffs on the south this seems quite a good place for a fort. However the north isn't very high and is protected by wall which originally was 3m wide. This seems quite common for the south forts.

Where there wasn't a wall nature provided rocks and in the gaps man made defences can be seen. The forts interior is made up of small sections like rooms, similarly were nature didn't fill the space, man did. One space not filled was the entrance and tghis can be found in the north west.

A great first day back in Islay and a contented dram or two coming up.

Visited 29/7/2018.

Sruthan Na Cille (Stone Fort / Dun)

After a good look round at Druim Nam Madagan we walked a short distance south before heading west, crossing a small burn before encountering thick ferns. I battered my way through to finally approach the dun from the west.

I found the outer wall easily enough by falling flat on my face as I tripped over it. It stands at around 0.5m tall and almost surrounds the crag on which the dun is perched. When I reached the ground I also discovered the wall must have been over 3m wide. However the density of the ferns made judgement hard and underfoot conditions even worse. The east side as well as a wall has the natural defence of a steep cliff.

There is a small wall in the middle of the dun, which I managed to spy before falling over that as well.

Now the dun, to me, seems to be on the wrong hill as there is a higher ridge to the north west so it seems to suggest that this might well be an enclosure, as the OS suggest, or a homestead, as Canmore suggests. I tend to think that it is a dun as it is similar to duns further to the east.

Who's to say that it isn't all three.

Visited 29/7/2018.

Druim nam Madagan (Torradale) (Chambered Tomb)

From Branhunisary make your back to the road and head east. Go past the water works and take the first road south, by this time the aromas of the three distilleries on the coast should reach your nose. The site, easily spotted by the standing stone, is on the east side of the road.

Only two slabs of the chamber remain, the standing stone and a possible kerb are in their original positions. The remnants of the almost 27m cairn have been reduced to a few bumps of rubble.

Still the other parts of the chamber aren't far away and its easy to see why the site had, originally, a different classification.

The slabs, of the chamber, have been moved to a building a few yards away. Canmore seem confused to what this building had been but having seen a few similar shapes on various isles its a safe bet it was medieval shelter for livestock.

Nice site, nice aroma :-)

Visited 29/7/2018.

Branhunisary (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Head north from Port Ellen Standing Stone on the minor road and stop at the first gate as the road swings east. The gate faces north, but from there head north west.

On a level part of the field stands the Branhunisary stone. It is about 1.4m high and has a large cup mark on its smooth northern face, it measures at 12cm wide and is 4cm deep.

Very easy to find and fortunately by this time the weather had improved rapidly so we went further east.

Visited 29/7/2018.

Port Ellen (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Follow Carl's directions except it isn't a track, its a minor road which leads to quite a few sites. The stile mentioned in another fieldnote is a bit of a shambles, however the fence is easily jumped being of no great height.

Standing at 4.3m it is a very tall, in a land of very tall stones.

Like most of the stones near the south coast of Islay I'd think the sea has something to do with its placing. Or is it? The next stone we'd visit had no views of the sea.

Visited 29/7/2018.

Upper Cragabus (North) (Cairn(s))

From the southern cairn we walked back down the hill, crossed the road, climbed a gate and promptly saw a sheep with its head stuck in a fence. When I tried to free it the poor thing it went mental so I left it alone figuring it would escape.

Head further north, over the deer fence, look south and climb the fairly steep but slippy hill. Once at the top head south and through a gate, past a pile of stones.

It must have been an impressive site back in its day. Sadly now most of the cairn has been removed and it is now turf covered.

Despite the damage it is still over 17m wide and over 1m high with superb all round views, on this day it was slightly misty. Luckily we could see over to the southern cairn and further east to the chamber cairn. Some boulders on the north side maybe the remnants of the kerb.

With that it was back down the hill to a mini drenching and another attempt at a rescue of the sheep. A kick to the kneecap persuaded me that professional help was needed. A phone call to the farmer and soon the prisoner would be free.

Visited 29/7/2018.

Upper Cragabus (Cairn(s))

The Upper Cragabus cairn is to be found on top of a small hill on the south side of Oa road. Walking west from Lower Cragabus we headed for the sharp corner at the bottom of the Upper Cragabus brae, just before the Cragabus Burn.

Head uphill and south east into the field, this will lead straight to the cairn.

The cairn is located next to fence next to the Gleann an Dobhrain wood. Sadly the cairn has taken a severe battering with two large houks. Anything that could be used was taken from the cairn which despite everything remains at 8m wide and 1m tall.

A case of 'what if' but still a very worthwhile visit as it has great views down the Oa valley to the east and north to another cairn, our next stop.

Let the fun begin!!

Visited 29/7/2018.

Cragabus (Chambered Tomb)

The previous day had seen the drive to Oban and the ferry to Port Askaig, Islay. When we arrived it was pitch dark, the ferry was an hour late and it was a pea soupper mist for the drive to Port Ellen. The twisty minor road along heading west towards The Oa memorial provided a test as we headed towards Upper Cragabus, our base camp.

We could have driven through Glasgow and never noticed as the mist was almost zero visibility, it also meant that we had driven past the chamber cairn at Lower Cragabus.

Fortunately the next morning provided clearer weather in what would prove an adventuresome morning. From Upper Cragabus head back east towards Port Ellen. Go past Middle Cragabus and the remaining standing stone can be next to the road on top of a mound near to Lower Cragabus.

The standing stone and the chamber cairn sit on top of the rocky crag called Creag Mhor. Damage to the site can be clearly seen, cairn material has been removed, quarrying has happened and as usual robbing had been evident.

Fortunately there is stone still standing and a lovely stone it is, almost 2m in height. The shape of the chamber can be clearly seen with several slabs still standing in the chambers three sections, the chamber being almost 5m in length. Despite the robbing several finds of bones, flints and pottery shards were found.

The stone would wave us goodbye in the morning and say hello on the way back to Upper Cragabus, or if I left early in the morning to visit 'difficult' sites it would get a good laugh at the various states I'd come back in.

Great start, well worth a visit :-)

Visited 29/7/2018.

Riereach Burn (Cairn(s))

From Barevan Bridge we headed east and took the first minor road heading south towards Glengeoullie, at which point the road ends. After asking permission we headed south on a decent track crossing the Riereach Burn at the Braevall Fords. With the water being so low this was an easy crossing. On another day.........................

Take the track to the west of burn, today it was a good time to look to the east of burn. Sandmartins, hundreds of them, flying about and taking advantage of the sandy banks.

After about another mile look east for a solitary stick on a bump or a solitary stone lying beside it. This is the cairn and I would think this could a pretty much undisturbed site. A kerb some fallen some standing still surrounds the cairn, difficult to spot but still there. The slab mentioned by Canmore is also still sitting in the middle of cairn. It still sits at 1m high being almost 9m wide. Beautiful views north to the Black Isle, east/west heather covered moors and to the south Carn A Mhais Leathain (the track ends up there).

However both Drew and dog were needing to head back, after a look around, to paddle our feet in the burn. We'd chosen the hottest day of the year to go hiking in open moor.

Thank goodness for hats!

Visited 18/7/2018.

Dun Evan (Hillfort)

We parked at the Barevan Bridge crossing the Allt Dearg Burn near West Barevan farm. Fortunately this is slightly north to the large burn so no wading involved.

From here we walked north through a field and jumped over a small burn shaded in trees. Once on the other side of the trees it was forest clearence on Fangorn size proportions. As we all know this makes walking conditions a nightmare but eventually we made it to were trees still survived. There is a track, not on the map, that goes up the west side of the fort. Luckily , for us, it led straight to the fort.

Also luckily is that the fort seems to have avoided any serious damage caused by the forestry work on the west. The rest of the outer edges are untouched. To the south, east and west the outer wall that surrounded the site has fallen over the edge. Parts of the wall still remain to the north in the inner part of the fort, the flattest side.

Most of the fallen wall is covered in moss which in turn is covered in ferns and numerous other types of vegetation. However it was a fairly large fort being 56m by 23m. Outer parts of the defences can just about be seen but, they to, are turf and moss covered. The well mentioned by Feachem (crikey we owe this guy a lot as well) is still there to catch the unwary.

A cracking place to build a fort. Just a pity, like many forest forts, that the vegetation takes over.
Still a very worthwhile place to visit.

Visited 18/7/2018.

Cantraydoune (Cairn(s))

Cantraydoune is a very easy site to find, we were en route to Dun Evan, as it is next to the minor road that eventually heads east from near the Clavas. It also gives the chance to drive under and appreciate the magnificent Nairn Viaduct.

Sadly the cairn, tho it looks like an attempt has been made to leave it alone (a very bad attempt), has taken a bit of a pounding. It still sits at 8m wide and is just about 1m high but to the north and west much damage has happened. Two kerbs remain earthfast whilst 3 others seemed to have been rolled away to the west. Tree stumps sit on top which explains the damage, recent forestry work.

Still it does have nice views of the River Nairn valley, if heading west go to the Clavas to cheer yourself up, if a glutton for punishment go to Dun Evan.

Visited 18/7/2018.

Feabuie (Kerbed Cairn)

The hard to see/find Feabuie looks over the Rough Burn to the south. This burn, at the moment, is well and truly rough, it was bone dry. In fact a lot of the burns we saw on this particular day were dry, such has been the summer.

We went south west through the village of Balloch and took the first minor road heading east pulling in 3 gates before the farm at East Feabuie. From here we headed straight north, over a fence, down to the dried up burn and then up the other side.

The cairn is set in a clearing but it is difficult to spot as it is covered in grass and ferns. Luckily one of the kerbs can be on the west side. Canmore say 6, I say 8 kerbs in a cairn that is over 7 meters wide and only 0.2m high.

Once again a cairn in the woods and complete silence, being near Culloden very apt.

Best approached from the west to see the kerb.

Visited 18/11/2018.

Lagnagreishach Wood (Cairn(s))

From the west of Nairn take the B9092 then the second minor road heading nprth west. As soon as the road has trees near both sides find a place to park, there is an old forestry track to the north side. Park there and walk a short distance west until a path, in bits overgrown, heads south. This swings back east ad heads straight to confusing and hard to spot site.

OS have it marked as an enclosure/cairn (and in the past described the site as a small fort) and Canmore has it down as a henge/cairn. Probably it has been used as all three. Here is the Canmore description :

A well preserved cairn, levelled into a slight SW facing slope in reafforested, Lagnagreishach Wood.

'It comprises an oval platform measuring c 7.0m SW/NE by c 6.0m transversely, surrounded by a ditch c 2.5m wide and c 0.4m deep with an outer earthen bank c 2.5m wide and c 0.3m high. Across the ditch in the SW is a causeway c 2.0m wide, which is mutilated by a tree stump, with a corresponding break in the bank. The central platform is slightly raised, c 0.2m, above the surrounding ground level by a turf-covered crown of closely packed rubble stones which covers the whole platform.'

All of which is present and correct. Beware bramble branches!

Visited 18/7/2018.

Delnies (Cist)

Delnies is a couple miles west of Nairn on the A96. Whilst making the road to Carnoch House the cist was discovered along with pebbles of a cairn. Fortunately the cist, 4 slabs, was not sent to stone crusher and was re-erected a short distance away in a wood a short distance from its original spot. The male skeleton was presented to Aberdeen Uni by the aptly named D. H. Cairns.

I parked near the entrance to Carnoch House and was given permission by the owner to do so. The man and wife team then gave me the history of the cist. From the driveway/track follow the first woodland path heading south west. Follow the track until a large curve, the cist can be seen impersonating Jaws in a small clearing.

A good start to the day.

Visited 18/7/2018.

Laggan Hill (Kerb) (Kerbed Cairn)

Laggan Hill is an old friend and its always wonderful to look south over Nethy Bridge and the Boat of Garten to the Cairngorms. I don't know why I haven't visited this cairn before but it provided a fitting end to a lovely day traipsing about to the north of Grantown on Spey.

I parked were the A938 meets the A95 and walked up to the gates of Easter Laggan. Keep following the track towards the masts on the top of the hill. This is a lovely walk, the last time I'd visited (from this side) I'd walked a huge amount of miles but today it had been far more easier.

Keep going until the trees end on the east side then head east over the fence and into the heather.

The cairn also has glorious views along the Spey Valley. It sits at 7m wide and reaches almost 1m in height. Sitting near a large outcrop there are at least seventeen graded kerbs. The smallest stones on the high point with large stones on the lowest point. It also appears that the turf covered cairn hasn't been houked.

Good news to end a superb day.

Visited 11/7/2018.
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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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