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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Glen Banchor (Cairn(s))

We headed down from the fort back down onto the main track to find the small cairn we saw on the way up. From here we headed south west to the mid point between a wood to the north and the River Calder/track to the south.

The small cairn has been clipped by the rarely used track on its western side. Despite this the turf covered monument retains its shape and more importantly several kerbs remain in place.

It is 6m wide and 0.4m high, having slight damage to the centre. This might be more like farm machinery damage than the traditional houking.

Visited 6/4/2018.

Sidhean Mor Dail A' Chaorainn (Enclosure)

After a good look round the Iron Age cairn we squelched to the north of the small hill to climb Sidhean from the north west. Just a short steepish climb to some glorious views of one of my favourite places.

Obviously from the car park follow the previous directions and have a look at the wee cairns. Also look in the middle of the fort/enclosure and find a circular object that looks like a hut circle. Could this be Johnnie Blair's garden?

Next its to the west and two more cairns in this fantastic prehistoric valley.

Visited 6/4/2018.

Sidhean Mor Dail A' Chaorainn (Square) (Cairn(s))

Moving up from the cairn, on the way to the fort, we climbed over the small hill to the west of Sidhean and squelched through a small bog to a fence over which the cairn is situated. This Iron Age cairn, first I've seen specifically called that, is almost 4m square with stones clearly marking the corners.

The main views are south west, looking down Glen Banchor towards the River Calder. Beautiful views!

Visited 6/4/2018.

Sidhean Mor Dail A' Chaorainn (Cairn) (Cairn(s))

From the car park, at the road's end, we continued over the Allt A Chaorainn burn and took the track , heading north, which heads straight to the fort/enclosure.

About 3/4s of a mile up there is a small cairn just to the west of the path.

Sitting at just over 3m in width and 0.3m in height the cairn has impressive views of all the surrounding mountains, rivers and other prehistoric monuments. Several kerbs remain in place despite the site being slightly houked.

Difficult to spot, find the area that looks like a large platform area, the cairn is about 100 metres south.

Visited 6/4/2018.

Creagan Mor (Cairn(s))

The last stop of another wonderful day in the Banchor valley. After several attempts to cross the River Calder I was finally persuaded by A to take the car and dog back to Newtonmore to find a place to park at Ballaid.

From Ballaid we followed a track which led round the edges of a wood, from here we could see the Sidhean car park (near to the scene of my heroic attempts to navigate the river). The track somewhat peters out eventually becoming more of a bog. We headed south west following the edge of the bog which fortunately led straight to a clump of trees which housed the cairn. As with everywhere here the views are simply stunning.

In a great place for a cairn a mound of about 11m in width and 0.6m high is all that remains except for two slabs one which can be easily found, the other covered in deep turf which I left in peace.

After a good look round, there is a lot of scenery, we found a track which turned into path which led straight back to the car. A fine walk through the birches ended a fine day.

Visited 6/4/2018.

Raedykes (Ring Cairn)

Like other visitors to Raedykes I thought there was 4 cairns/stone circles, however according to Canmore there are five. Canmore is right, unfortunately they don't describe the complete nightmare to find it.

I approached from the north (on a beautiful crisp Spring day), from Eddieslaw looked for cairns here, sadly all ploughed out) and there are much easier routes. After ploughing through a bog, jumping several burns and jumping over several fences I made it to dry land without injury. From here its head to the top of the hill. On the hill several deer looked down, their thoughts easy to read....check that idiot! Polite version!

NO 83220 90680

This ring cairn is surrounded by a stone circle with 9 stones still standing, inside several kerbs remain in place. It has been described before. This is the site nearest to West Raedykes steading.

NO 832716 90608

Sitting a short distance west, about 20m, is a cairn half covered in jabby stuff. Still it looks in reasonable condition and looks like it might have a been a kerb cairn. It has been houked in the centre.

From here I walked past the high gorse, jabby stuff etc to the most famous site.

NO 83226 90655

This is a truly fantastic site with truly fantastic scenery to match the imposing standing stones which appear to be looking west, imo. Apart from these stones smaller stones still stand whilst others have fallen. The inner kerb is in the same condition. Sweetcheat's oft used phrase 'gentle restoration' screams here. Maybe one day!

NO 83220 90680

Slightly to the north of the previous there is a small cairn. A small ditch appears to lead to the possible remnants of a cist. Several kerbs also remain in place.

NO 83255 90610

I walked back past the famous standing stones to look south at the highest of the gorse, whins etc over a fairly ruined fence. There was no way through except to crawl or throw myself into the gorse. After what seemed ages I made it through to the tiniest of clearings. If you find this you are standing on the cairn. Crawling round the edges I found several kerbs still in place. It is almost 7m wide and 0.5m high. There is a small hollow in the middle but nothing to suggest serious damage..........to the cairn.

As for me, another battering but it doesn't matter as Raedykes is one of my favourite places, an essential visit if in the area.

Visited 15/3/2018.

Garlogie (Cairn(s))

The cairn at Garlogie is in a sad state of affairs. As well as forestry inflicted damage, a track has made the eastern half vanish completely. Surely there was room to move track a few metres further east!!

Sitting at 10m (north - south) and 5m wide (due to damage), it looks a decent site approaching from the west being just over 0.5m high. Even several kerbs remain in place.

There has been a lot of prehistory in this area, many hut circles, enclosures and cairns have sadly been removed.

In the middle of Garlogie take the minor road north and pull in at one of small parking spaces. Take a track, any track east, then head south looking for were the ditch deepens. The cairn is immediately west, or what remains of it.

Visited 18/1/2018.

Brodie Wood (Cairn(s))

Heading east, from Aberdeen on the B9077 take the first minor road heading south past Tollohill. Keep going until a short distance past the primary school. I was given permission to park at a nearby cottage. From there I jumped the fence into a field and headed the short distance west, jumped another fence and was immediately in the Brodie Wood cairnfield.

The main cairn at Brodie is situated on a rocky knoll. It is 9m wide by 5.5 long and is 0.5 high being rectangular in shape. Various misplaced boulders make up a type of kerb.

NJ9159901001 This cairn is circular in shape sitting at almost 4m wide and 0.5 tall.

NJ9160300977 The best of the smaller cairns is very similar to it's near neighbour but has some larger boulders presumably kerbs.

NJ9158600964 Once again very similar to the above cairns.

All of the cairns are to the eastern side of Brodie Wood and look over to Kincorth Hill as well as looking down the River Dee. A little hidden gem next to Aberdeen. Nice place!

Visited 18/1/2018.

Kincorth Hill East (Cairn(s))

From Abbotswell Road follow the Kincorth Hill path heading west until the fence heads south. At this point follow the fence to the trig, which by this time the visitor will have noticed sits on top of the site.

This cairn has tremendous views east to the many ancient sites on Tullos Hill. It also has not so tremendous views to some of Aberdeen's busied industrial estates.

The eastern site of the cairn has seen a vast amount of damage. A lot of quarrying has happened. Meanwhile the eastern side seems to have been protected by the trig and the fence.

What remains is a cairn that was originally well over 18m wide, standing at almost 2m tall with a trig plonked on top.

A nice day to go explore and re-visit the other cairn almost a mile to the west.

Visited 18/1/2018.

Westerord Plantation (Cairn(s))

There are more than 20 small cairns on this wee and not very high ridge, the largest of which is in the photographs. This cairn is just over 6m wide and 0.5m tall. 4 kerbs remain in place. The usual cairn material scattering and houking has also taken place.

I found at least 16 of the nearby cairns in various states of ruin. At least the trees now are protecting them for a little time.

Westerord can be found just to the south of Westhill. Take the second minor road south on the B9119, heading west from the A944. At the first corner take the track west and ask permission if requiring to park. From the house head south east and walk straight, uphill, to the cairn.

Visited 11/1/2018.

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

I parked at a space opposite Countesswells House and walked west until the first track heading north. From here I walked about 50 metres before climbing a wee hill to a small path. A short distance to the east and the hut circle can be found.

Like its colleague at Clear Hill near Bucksburn this site would be in remarkable condition given some gentle restoration. Maybe its best just to let nature look after it. Who knows?

Stretching to almost 9m in diameter the walls of the hut circle are almost 2m wide and in some parts well over a meter high. The front door, still clearly defined, is facing south east.

Beautiful area this, well worth having a walk round the nearby woods. Quite a few massive consumption dykes.

Visited 11/1/2018.

The Shields (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

This hut circle has taken a fair beating in its time but it still retains a sense of shape being over 12m wide. Sadly this wall has in some parts gone but some of it remains at almost two metres wide and 0.5m tall. As can be seen from the photos some of the building material is still in place.

From the RSC at Auchlee head further west past the cottage of the same name then almost double on the farm track walking next to the Shields Burn through a narrow strip of trees. At some point about 300m down track climb the fence, jump the burn and head south through the boggy field. Climb over the next fence and the hut circle shouldn't be to hard to find. Sadly nearby small cairns seem to have vanished.

A fine way to spend a spare hour near Portlethen, at least this time I didn't land in the burn.

Visited 4/1/2018.

Glenton North (Cairn(s))

Glenton North is about a mile north from it's southern neighbour. Luckily a lot of the heather and trees have been taken down or burnt making walking conditions, apart from the boggy start, much easier. Sadly a lot of small cairns and probably a hut circle or two have been trashed beyond recognition. I went into the wood at the top of Glenton Hill (calling it forest might be an exaggeration) and like Tara didn't see very much. However keeping heading north and on the downslope a cairn overlooking the very small village of Rickarton will be found.

It has also survived a bit better than its southern neighbour with possibly two kerbs still in place and the remains in of cist in it's houked centre. It stands at over 6m wide and is about 0.6m high. To the north is the wonderful view of Cairn Mon Earn.

A nice way to spend a sunny afternoon near Stonehaven.

Visited 3/1/2018.

Glenton South (Cairn(s))

Sadly there are not much visible remains of the Glenton South cairn. All that can now be seen is a green circular patch amongst the gorse sitting at over 6m wide and 0.5m tall. Underneath the grass cairn material can be felt. What it does have are tremendous views over to Findlayston and Raedykes, homes to several cairns. A lot of the nearby smaller cairns have been gobbled up by the large amounts of gorse.

Heading west from the Cowton Bridge on the Slug Road aka the A957 Banchory Road. Take the first road heading south, almost doubling back, to North Glenton farm. I asked permission to park, which was granted, at the farm. From here I jumped the fence into a field and headed south and uphill. The cairn is located on the edge of a bog amongst jabby stuff just over the next fence/gate.

Visited 3/1/2018.

Tigh-na-gaoith (Cairn(s))

From Creag Bheag we headed back down into the valley and climbed up the other side. Nearby there is a deer fence gate. Go through this until a steep descent (which is full of various animal holes). There is a small bridge crossing the Caoachan a Mhananaich burn. Cross this and climb up the other side. On top there is another track which heads north east then, after a large turn, heads west. By this time the cairn can be seen below.

It is unusually positioned being surrounded on three sides by three slopes. The only clear view is east towards the Cairngorms and River Spey. Being over 12m wide and 1m tall I think this cairn must have been considerably larger. Large stones which might have possibly stood lay prone on the other side of the track. Kerbs survive on the east side but sadly a massive amount of houking has taken place. Still the site remains circular, defiantly looking east.

Just below is the A86 which leads to Kingussie and eventually the road home. An excellent second day in an excellent area.

Visited 30/12/2017.

Creag Bheag (Cairn(s))

From Caochan A' Mhanaich head north east past the huge natural mound. This might look an easy walk on the map but with loads of small streams, bogs, ruined dykes and the occasional fence keeping an eye on your feet is a good idea.

Eventually a new deer fence with a fairly new track behind is reached. Climb over this and go over the road to look down into a small valley. Just to the north there is a small hillock in front of the, by now, very impressive Creag Bheag from which the site earns it name. Indeed the small hill looks like a guard standing on duty.

Go down into the valley, cross the bog (and a couple of hidden streams) and climb the wee hill. The cairn is on the southern most point.

At 8m wide and almost 0.6m high the cairn stands watch over the Pitmain Burn. The slab mentioned by Canmore, now almost entirely covered in turf, might be the remains of a cist cover. Other cairn material poke their heads through the heather and turf covered site. It is a site of fantastic beauty despite the ever increasing darkness and dampness. These simply add to the atmosphere.

Still the hills aren't the safest place to be with darkness fast approaching so away we marched/stumbled to the last site of a wonderful day.

Visited 30/12/2017.

Caochan A' Mhanaich (Cairn(s))

With Creag Bheag standing majestically to the north we continued from Newtonmore along the A86 until we reached the farm track to the ruined farm of Ballachroan. From here follow the dry stane dyke north west until it ends. Go through the gate and keep heading north west. By this time a large natural mound will be seen. Jump the burn, go through the bog and climb a wee hill. If still heading north west the cairn will be clearly seen in the short heather.

The site sits at just over 8m wide and is about 0.8m tall. Some displaced kerbs remain almost in place. Making it easier to the spot, turf covers the cairn. Even as the weather became dreicher (more damp and rainy) the scenery is magnificent. Creag Bheag looks down on top of us, the River Spey/Cairngorms are to the east and to the south the Banchor valley, one of my favourite areas.

With that it was over to look at the natural mound and on to continue splashing through the various bogs. Great fun!

Visited 30/12/2017.

Newtonmore (Cairn(s))

From Biallidbeg we walked the couple of miles north east following A86 back to Newtonmore. Sites to the west of Biallidbeg will be explored later this year but today was all about walking around the Newtonmore area.

Cross Calder Bridge and immediately head south to the clump of trees which houses the cairn. Next to this is the home of the famous Newtonmore Shinty Club, scene of some stunning sporting achievements and some other types of achievements by spectators - not today.

The cairn is situated just above the corner were the Rivers Calder and Spey meet with some glorious mountainous scenery. It stands at well over 13 m wide and is well over 1m in height. Tree roots look like giant spiders climbing over cairn material and kerbs.

Beautiful place, I just wonder why I've never spotted it before!

Visited 30/12/2017.

Biallidbeg (Cairn(s))

After a good nights refreshment in Kincraig I awoke bright and hazy ready for a good hike. Wee B was in good form so we were taken south and dropped off at Biallidbeg Farmstead on the A86.

We jumped the gate and headed up the small slope then headed north east. This is an area covered in cairns and hut circles, the biggest cairn was our aim. It stands at well over 10m wide and is almost 1m high. The remains of a long robbed cist can be seen in the centre of the cairn. An impressive tree also seems to trying to protect and keep the site warm.

A stunning start to the day with impressive views to the Cairngorms and Strathspey. Also a return visit to this place is needed. Roll on the warmer weather.

Visited 30/12/2017.

Kincraig (Chambered Cairn)

Just before heading into Kincraig for some light refreshment and rest there was time to visit the chamber cairn near the village. From Loch An Eilein car park we took the road back to the B970, a very twisty road indeed through Feshie Bridge until the first minor road heading west. This follows the northern shore of Loch Insh to Kincraig. Head through the village to the B9152 turning north. Take the first subway underneath the A9 and park near the group of small farm buildings, the cairn is a short distance behind. There is plenty room to park.

All that remains of this once massive cairn is the chamber, split into two and the scant outline of its former surroundings. This had been over 17m at some point. Some kerbs still remain.

Canmore's description 'This heavily robbed chambered cairn is situated at the upper limit of improved pasture roughly midway between the newly constructed blacksmith’s shed and a small coniferous plantation, some 425m to the ENE of Kincraig House. The cairn lies on relatively flat ground and appears to have been terraced on the S, with the ground rising gently to the N and W and a tongue of natural outcrop extending out to the SE. Oval on plan, it measures 17m from ENE to WSW by 14.8m transversely, and is defined by three kerb stones on the SW, S and SSE, and another that appears to have fallen outwards on the ENE. On the N and NW the outer edge of the cairn has been reduced to a low stony bank. Loose stones lie across the interior and several large angular blocks are still visible on the SE. The chamber, orientated ENE to WSW, measures 3.2m by 0.9m internally and is divided into two compartments by a low septal slab. The innermost compartment survives as two upright stones on its S side and a back-slab, the latter the tallest of the chamber standing 0.68m in height. Two displaced stones immediately behind these may be capstones or corbels from the roof of the chamber that have slipped backwards. The second compartment comprises a pair of upright stones and another adjacent to that on the N set just outside though not overlapping. A further 0.7m to the E there is another earthfast stone which may also belong to the chamber but now appears to be displaced.'

Just before leaving I looked south towards Newtonmore and Kingussie. The next day would see a lot of miles walked.

Visited 29/12/2017.
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