The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Great Upon Little Rock Shelters (Cave / Rock Shelter) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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Philpots Camp (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images

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Carn Owen (Round Cairn) — Images

<b>Carn Owen</b>Posted by GLADMAN

Mynydd Herbert (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

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Fan Frynych (Round Cairn) — Images

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Sully Island (Promontory Fort) — Images

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Y Das (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

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Bwlch Bach a'r Grib (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Bwlch Bach a'r Grib</b>Posted by GLADMAN

Fan Frynych (Round Cairn) — Images

<b>Fan Frynych</b>Posted by GLADMAN

Pen-y-Fan (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Pen-y-Fan</b>Posted by GLADMAN

Fan Nedd (Northern cairn) (Cairn(s)) — Images

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Cnoc na Moine (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Popularity is relative; however it's nevertheless probably fair to say that the environs of The Kyle of Durness feature pretty highly upon the itineraries of most visitors to far north-western Scotland. And not without good reason: the coastal scenery is exquisite, particularly striking when a low, late Spring sun blurs demarcation between hillside, sandbank and water with washes of golden light bordering upon sheer ostentation.

What might not be so obvious to passing motorists restricted to widescreen panoramas is the fact that such scenic splendour was (or so it would appear to me) specifically chosen as the necessary backdrop to a myriad funerary cairns erected by the first peoples to call the locale 'home', monuments which still remain, in varying degrees of preservation, clustered either side of the A838 coastal road. Unlike assemblages of similar cairns - cemeteries, if you will - to be found in many other areas of these Isles, gaunt stone piles standing in enigmatic profile against the skyline... those to the south-west of Durness are seemingly shy to the point of reclusion. Even when in plain sight. Some, I like to think, offer a sublime, harmonious juxtaposition of monument and landscape, a glorious summation of just why I do what I do.

One such was only discovered... or rather 're-discovered'... by those wondrous OS people during field investigations as recently as 1960, obscured by peat upon the low rise of Cnoc na Moine. Following a 1972 visit, the indefatigable Audrey Henshall classified the monument as "The heavily robbed remains of an Orkney-Cromarty round cairn with a polygonal chamber". The description is succinct since not a great deal of cairn material remains in situ, it being the substantial orthostats of the surviving chamber which impress, their squat solidity evoking a notion of timelessness, a reference point, perhaps, in a world seemingly accelerating uncontrollably toward cyber information overload. (Although no doubt some pioneers of The Industrial Revolution had similar concerns about their own 'Great Leap Forward'). I was expecting a lot less 'chamber' and more 'cairn', to be honest; but happily settle for the inverse. Happily.

The chambered cairn doesn't sit at the modest outcropping summit of Cnoc na Moine, rather a little way below to the approx west. The summit itself is crowned by a ring - perhaps 'stone arrangement' is a more apt descriptor - not depicted upon the map, but clearly of human agency (Canmore cites this as a 'Kerbed Cairn'). The splendid profiling as seen from the chambered cairn is perhaps instructive? Furthermore another Kerbed Cairn is located beside the southern shore of Loch Caladail to the east, this furnished with a similar aspect of the summit. The assumption that both monuments were in some way subsidiary to - or at least associated with - the summit is arguably pretty cohesive.

So... the archaeology to be found secreted away upon and around Cnoc na Moine is somewhat extensive, not to mention impressive. The same can be said about the fabulous, contrasting views. The brutally rugged heights of Beinn Ceannabeinne and Meall Meadhonach dominate the near eastern horizon, despite relatively modest elevations, but it is the aforementioned, magnificent seaward vista - particularly when viewed from the chambered cairn - which, for me, is the crowning glory here, the gaze irrevocably drawn across the shining waters of the Kyle of Durness... toward Cape Wrath itself. A timeless view worthy of a timeless viewpoint.

I don't believe the chambered cairn of Cnoc na Moine can be readily seen from roadside. Consequently travellers willing to ascend the short distance for a personal audience should pretty much be guaranteed just that. A spot to hang out in solitude for a while without, as George Eliot memorably said "feeling obligated to look serious".
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Hi, I'm GLADMAN... aka Citizen Cairn'd. Or if you prefer, Robert. Now aside from (apparently) having an illustrious historical forebear in W E Gladstone, I've a passion for attempting to understand the more prosaic lives of the pioneering prehistoric inhabitants of these British Isles, seeking out the visible (and sometimes not so visible) remains they left behind in order to ask the questions... 'why here? ... why did it matter so; why such commitment?.. and why should I/do I care? Needless to say I'm still pondering such intangibles. Now I've a particular liking for those upland piles of stone with the appropriately monumental views; visiting them, I think, helps engender a certain 'connection' - however nebulous - with this land of ours, a reference point for those of us struggling to make sense of this so-called 'computer world' Kraftwerk warned us was a'coming in 1981.... danke, mein herren.

Suffice to say, then, that mine is not an exercise in dryly cataloguing sites for the benefit of future generations - as much as I might try (honest) I haven't yet been able to embrace altruism to that extent - but rather an attempt to try and reconcile why I am often so incredibly moved by these constructions of stone and/or earth representing a time when everything was, by all accounts, literally a matter of life and death. Yeah, just as an empty house appears to retain echoes of past humanity... an illusion, perhaps, but symptomatic of the consciousness that apparently sets us apart as a species... so does the stone circle, the chambered cairn, the long barrow and the mountain top funerary cairn. We may only be able to hypothesise as to the nature of human interaction undertaken. But clearly it mattered. A lot.

I make no claims for my contributions except to state that I've done my best to relate what I've seen. Yeah, enjoying the moment always takes precedent. After all, life is not a rehearsal, a spectator sport. The majority of my earlier images are (variable quality) scans of archive prints taken back in the days when photography was, well, 'photography', the others idiosyncratic digital attempts to capture the impossible.... 'mood', a sense of vibe ... with minimal refuge sought in that false post production manipulation that has, in my opinion, so blighted the medium. I'd like to think some of them convey something of what I've felt. Likewise my opinions are those of an enthusiastic 'self taught' amateur. Hence if you like what you see, why thank you! But please go see for yourself, make up your own mind, relate what you think, share what you experienced... yeah, do your own thing, so helping to keep the facists, communists, authoritarians, misogynists and the dark shadow of organised religion from the door. As the great, flawed Ian Dury once said, 'Be inspired, be inspiring, be magnificent!' ... and thus the circle turns in on itself to go round again, as upon the great kerb stones at Bru na Boinne....

However... let's not get carried away. Steady now. In a society where computer generated fantasy is all too prevalent, where many people seem - to me - unable to even venture outside without plugging into the 'matrix' machine, please be aware that reaching some of the more remote upland sites in the British Isles can be potentially dangerous - even life threatening - for the unprepared... or arrogant. Treat the landscape and weather with the respect they deserve; take map, compass, waterproofs (etc) and hopefully you won't go too far wrong. Help turn that limited wannabe squaddie route marching mentality on its head by taking as long as you can, let being part of this planet soak in. Hey, if it all seems a bit daunting at first why not pop a question in the Forum? That's why Mr Cope puts up the readies to run TMA.... Thank you Julian.

So cheers... to Mr Cope for being his inspirational, confrontational (who said that?) self, showing that field archaeology can be FUN! - hey, who'd have thought it? ...to my sister (the wondrous Mam Cymru) for using her female 'micro' vision to help me see the detail throughout an ongoing re-exploration of the South Walian uplands, albeit upon dodgy ankles, knees etc... to my own mam for insisting 'young men should have adventures' (that was a while back, now!).... and my Dad for unwittingly inspiring a profound love of high places. Oh, and to Aubrey Burl for those pioneering guides BC.... 'Before Cope'.

For what it's worth some of my other inspirational people are:

Charles Darwin (for his humanity... amongst, er, 'other things'... although let's not forget Wallace for forcing the great man's hand);

And then, in no particular order:

George Orwell (peerless essayist with the ability to change his mind); Michael Collins (things are not often black and white...); Winston Churchill (for all his faults); Martin L. Gore (favourite songwriter... from just up the road!); Big Steve Chamberlain (sorely missed); Mr Beethoven; Giorgio Moroder & his analogue sequencers; Richard Dawkins (much maligned - and asks for it - yet helping to carry the torch of reason during an age of devolutionary religious resurgence); The Pogues (for my North Walian soundtrack); Sophie Scholl (words fail me); W A Mozart (ditto); Manic Street Preachers (the true spirit of South Wales, not the bleedin' misogamist male voice choirs); Alan Pearlman.. for the sublime ARP Odyssey; Nigel Kennedy; Pat Jennings; Will Shakespeare; Kraftwerk; Harry Hill (there's only one way to find out!); Claudia Brucken (proving Germans DO have passion); the (Allied) generation of WW2 for making this possible; Marc Almond; Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; John Foxx; Christopher Hitchens; Mulder and Scully; John Le Mesurier ('do you think that's wise, sir?'... the coolest man) .... and anyone who has ever asked 'Why?' - the true legacy of punk. Thank you Mr Lydon.

Oh, last but not least, Gaelic beauty Karen Matheson... the Scottish trips wouldn't have been the same without that voice. 'The call is unspoken, never unheard'.

George Orwell - '...during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act'....

Truman Capote - 'Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour'.

W E Gladstone - 'Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic'.

William Blake - 'A truth that's told with bad intent; Beats all the lies you can invent'

John Lydon - 'It is a reward to be chastised by the ignorant'.

Christopher Hitchens - 'Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.'

Sarah Cracknell - 'I walk the side streets home; even when I'm on my own...'

Winston Churchill - 'KBO'.

And finally, in light of several instances of personal animosity over the years: Martin L. Gore -

'Now I'm not looking for absolution
Forgiveness for the things I do
But before you come to any conclusions
Try walking in my shoes' - or rather, boots.

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