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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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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.

Slivia 1 (Hillfort)

Follow the signs from the centre of another beautiful village, this time Slivia, once again parking the near the information board. The hillfort is around 600m away to the south east. Once again when the trees clear it is another astonishing array of white lime stone walls. Some of the original late Bronze Age dykes remain which surround the top of this fantastic viewpoint.

The inner walls stand at an astounding 5m high and must be at least the same wide. I managed to walk the 300 meters all the way round with the only real gap being the entrance which is on the eastern side approaching from the north. Even the outer wall and ramparts are enormous. These cover the south, south east and south west. They stand at least 2m tall with the ditch being 2m wide. Just for good measure there is further defence with a dry stane dyke lying to south of the ditch. Just for size it is a mind blowing place, I've certainly never seen nothing like it.

Like a lot of these forts it was used in later wars. The nearby Mount Ermada was protected by this and several other forts in the Isonzo Wars (see Misc) of 1916 between the Italians and Hapsburgs. Trenches and shacks can be found within the walls to the north east. In the beautiful places horrendous things happen and this area has had its fair share. However Carlo Marchesetti, an archaeologist who I'd read a lot about, restored a lot of the fort and is considered the areas greatest historian.

It is very fitting that the fort now bears his name, so another glass was raised to him.

Visited 18/10/2017.

Sales (Hillfort)

Once again we parked at a crossroads this time in the village of Sales, another beautiful wee place. Across the road there is a memorial to the local Slovene and Italian Partisans so it seemed apt that we were going to visit the hillfort that centuries ago had also defended this area.

Head north from here until the tarred road runs out at a crossroads. Luckily a local man was working on a wall and gave us precise directions to the fort. Go west and keep going following the path until a filled in (by leaves etc) pond, man made centuries ago to help feed animals. Go round the pond and head south. This will lead directly to a notice board which gives info about the fort.

Climb west over a couple of ancient walls until the huge rampart is met. The ditch for this is over 4m wide with the ramparts themselves still standing at 3m tall. There is 500m of this all round the top of the hill. Funnily enough if this fort had no trees it would resemble Down Law in Fife. (a stretch of imagination but reasonable I think.) The main entrance is on the south west and is 3.5m wide. Also in the middle of the fort there appears to be a cairn with perhaps a cist beginning to appear.

I walked all the way round the fort and climbed to the top of the southern wall. Looking down it seemed the whole of the south face was a wall, this must have been an important place and a place of habitation. Land around here seems, nowadays, to quite fertile so maybe back in the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age they decided to stay. One thing they did know about was how to built walls, most of them are still standing.

Then it was back down the hill retracing our steps back to the crossroads. On the other side of the road, a wee pub and fantastic food. I raised a glass to the memorial across the road!

Visited 17/10/2017.

Rupinpiccolo (Hillfort)

We parked at main crossroads in the middle of the small but beautiful Carse village of Rupinpiccolo, near the information board. Take the tarred road heading east until it ends then follow a track heading south, marked by white/red painted signs, until the trees clear. This was a very pleasant walk in nice warm weather, the week before had seen torrential rain.

In this clearing there is the astonishing and dazzling white limestone east entrance to the fort. It is a stunning place. On the western side there is a similar steep access probably used to transport large weapons. The walls are gigantic being almost 4m tall and are at least 4 to 5m wide. They encircle the hill coming to at least 240m in length. Further down the hill there is a second defensive wall to the south. To the west there has been quarrying but luckily the locals seem to have repaired a lot of the damage.

Sadly this area, as we all know, has seen a lot of war through the centuries and this fort was used as a gun emplacement during World 1. Evidence of this can be seen on the summit of the hill. Trieste, one of Europe's major ports, is just over the hills to the south.

I later found out that there are three more forts nearby surrounding Rupinpiccolo. In fact all the Slovenian/Italian border area is covered in prehistory. What an excellent reason to go back, which we will.

Visited 17/10/2017.

Whitebridge (Stone Fort / Dun)

From the hut circle at Duntirhal look east, the first hill is the ridge leading towards the dun, the second is the wonderfully shaped Ben Sgurrach. Compared to Dun Dearduil (see the Thelonius fieldnote) this is a sleepwalk as underfoot conditions are solid unlike the partially flooded track to the east of Whitebridge.

The ridge leads to a wall which still has one or two stones standing, this is also the front door. Sadly most of the walls have fallen down in the surrounding slopes. Surviving wall indicates that this must have been two to three metres wide. At the west the fort is 7m wide and increases to 9m in the east. It is 26m in length.

Happily the fort still has inhabitants. Quite a few brown mice were running about and managed to avoid our boots.

After revisiting the hut circles we made our way back to Whitebridge as the first hint of darkness appeared. Ben Sgurrach started to change its heathery colour. A wonderful end to another fine day in the hills to the east of Loch Ness, this time in the excellent company of the Blackburners :-)

Visited 24/10/2017.

Duntirhal (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

After climbing, walking and falling the down the Dearduils it was south to Whitebridge on the B862. We parked at the bridge, which is very close to the impressive Old Bridge, and headed south, through the chalets to a track. Follow this and climb the small hill onto a very flat plateau. From the gate look westish and the walls of the hut circle can be seen.

There are a lot of hut circles in this area and this was an added bonus, as were the two others nearer the dun. It is large being almost 18m wide with collapsed walls up to 4m wide. Sadly the entrance, to the north, has been houked and sits at 1.5m wide. Despite the damage we thought the site impressive.

With Ben Sgurrach towering above it is a wonderful place.

Visited 24/10/2017.

Whitebridge (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Coming down from Whitebridge we spotted 2 hut circles. One listed by Canmore and one which will be.

NH 4948 1464

The listed circle is sadly in a sad state having taking a battering from cattle, agriculture and vegetation. Still it can be clearly made out from the dun being on the southern side. Sitting at over 13m wide with walls at 0.4m, with the entrance to the south it has magnificent views of Ben Sgurrach, the dun and neighbouring hills.


We discovered this hut circle whilst coming down from the dun to find NH49481464. It is in far better condition and sits at about 4.5m wide nestling in the shadow of the dun, the boulders almost making a complete circle. A new find to complete a fantastic day. Historic Scotland has been sent a report/photos via the DES form and will hopefully appear on their site shortly.

Visited 24/10/2017.

Tulloch Boundary Marker 33 (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

From the top of Brimmond you get marvellous views all round. The view to the north has Elrick Hill and its enclosure so I decided to climb down following a track which left the main track half way down. At the bottom there is a minor road and across from this another road, road is optimistic, which leads to the bottom of the valley.

Just before the wee car park jump the fence and head west, the boulder and marker stone are easily spotted being next to the fence overlooking the overgrown Littlemill Burn.

The boulder is almost 1m square and just over 0.5 deep with the cup mark measuring 9cm wide and 3cm deep.

With that it was up the Elrick Hill to find nothing. Long grass and ferns covered the area so another winter time visit required. A nice walk with great views to the west more than made up for the lack of site especially when the main view is Bennachie.

Visited 7/9/2017.

Beans Hill (Cup Marked Stone)

After looking for the cairn, with no real luck, I followed the deer fence south west and luckily found a gate on to the northern side. After the third dry stane dyke look west for a solitary boulder.

The boulder is about 1m square and 0.5m deep. Situated near the centre the cup mark is 11cm wide and 2.5cm deep. Much more recently someone tried to break the rock as evidenced by the drill hole.

Now by this time it was belting down. Paths and tracks had become large streams. By the time I arrived back at the car I was 'fair drookit'.

Visited 31/8/2017.

Beans Hill, Boundary Marker 23 (Cup Marked Stone)

From East Brotherfield I headed south east and cross country to look for two more cup marked rocks, the first being near marker 23. As the sunny weather faded the underfoot conditions became trickier. Keep heading south east and eventually a deer fence is reached. Follow this south east and it will lead to the meeting place of several fences. Unluckily the rocky outcrop is the other side of the deer fence.

Also on the south side of the fence is the marker, behind this can be found the cup mark which measures at 14cm wide and 6cm deep. To help locate the cup mark I left the end of a fence post. Just to the east is the new Aberdeen by-pass. Sadly the nearby cairn seems to have vanished but a winter visit might reveal more.

On the way back I'd look for another cup marked rock. By this time it was lashing down and underfoot conditions resembled a heathery quagmire.

Visited 31/8/2017.

East Brotherfield, Boundary Marker 25 (Cup Marked Stone)

The massive boulder at East Brotherfield contains one cup mark. Its measurements are 14cm wide and 6cm deep. Situated 1m above the ground the boundary marker also provides a handy marker in locating the cup.

I asked permission to park at East Silverburn, to the north east, followed the track to East Brotherfield and followed a small stream/path straight to the boulder.

There are lots of rock and rock plate so another visit needed to hopefully find some more rock art. Beautiful conditions but that would change.

Visited 31/8/2017.

Hilton Farm, Boundary Marker 18 (Cup Marked Stone)

From the Dalmuinzie Stone I made my way back west to the Hillhead Road and walked north west following the track. Once the track straightens jump the first gate (the fifth field from Hillhead cottages) and head south across the field. The stone(s) are next to the fence and wall which in turn is next to a wood.

The cup marked rock lies next to the boundary marker. Its cup has a width of 7.5cm wide, being 2.5cm deep. This is quite an impressive rock almost kerb like. Sadly it might have once been part of a long destroyed cairn remnants of which can be seen scattered all round.

Visited 24/8/2017.

Dalmuinzie Farm, Boundary Marker 16 (Cup Marked Stone)

Between Bieldside and Milltimber on the A93 take the Hillhead Road heading north and stop at Hillhead Farm and cottages. From here I headed east across a small field, jumped a burn, climbed back up, went past some trees and went down another small hill until I spotted a large stone beside which was one of the boundary markers of Aberdeen.

The stone has a single cup mark which is 9cm wide and 4cm deep. In prehistoric times there were a couple of nearby cairns so no surprise that there are cup marked rocks nearby.

Visited 24/8/2017.

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

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.
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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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