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

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Kintraw (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited Friday 26/5/17:
The most perfect day and, unfortunately, our last full day in Argyll. Kintraw standing stone and cairn can be seen clearly at a sharp bend as you drive towards the village of Ardfern and Loch Craignish and there is a small pull-in parking area opposite the site. This particular day the sun shone, the sky blue and it was warm - the best of sort of summer day. Kintraw is probably the tallest standing stone I've ever stood next to. It is also in the most fabulous location overlooking Loch Craignish and the loch-side village of Ardfern. I did wonder what its purpose was as it was unlike any of the other standing stones we had seen in the Kilmartin area - being almost cylindrical in shape. Although Loch Craignish was visible from the site I don't think the standing stone or cairn could been seen from the loch.
Made a bit of a mistake here though as my companion-in-charge-of-map-reading told me that Kintraw and the Clach an t-Sagairt Cairn were in the same place so we made the assumption it was the cairn next to the standing stone. Have since found out it wasn't and we've missed it.
Anyway after a leisurely lunch in the Crafty Cafe Tea Room in Ardfern we spent a peaceful afternoon visiting the ruined chapel of Kilmarie (Kilvaree) -
which is dedicated to the 7th century Irish monk St Maelrubha of Applecross - and then exploring the remote coastal area nearby.

Kintraw (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Kintraw</b>Posted by tjj<b>Kintraw</b>Posted by tjj<b>Kintraw</b>Posted by tjj

Torbhlaren (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

<b>Torbhlaren</b>Posted by tjj

Torbhlaren (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Visited 25/5/17 as part of our visit to Kilmichael Glen

Following the road from Kilmichael Glassary northeast out of the village to the bridge over the River Add (where Dunadd gets its name) we continued walking along the quiet single track road which runs along the valley bottom. A little bit further along on in a field on your left there is a single standing stone which has cup marks similar to those at Ballymeanoch and Nether Largie. One more stone is known to have stood in the field (and there may have been others). In the same field there two earthfast rock outcrops which are covered with cup and ring marks. On the day we walked by there was a tractor cutting the grass in the field and the gate was firmly secured - we decided not to climb over on this occasion.

Kilmichael Glassary (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

<b>Kilmichael Glassary</b>Posted by tjj<b>Kilmichael Glassary</b>Posted by tjj

Kilmichael Glassary (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Visited Wednesday 24/5/17

More wonderful rock carvings on easily accessible panels just behind the local primary school. It is ok to park in the small car park by the school though visitors are asked to avoid school pick-up times.

To quote "In The Footsteps Of Kings" by Sharon Webb (Walk 11):
“Within the fenced enclosure you will see two groups of cup and ring markings carved into earthfast rock slabs. There are many single cups as well as cups with rings and gutters. Look out for the cups with rings shaped like a keyhole which occur on both slabs. Some of the outcrops around the fenced enclosure also have markings, but please don’t be tempted to pull back the vegetation as the carvings are liable to be damaged by stock.”

After examining the panels walked back down to the village - with some free range chickens and an anxious cockerel keeping us in their sights. Next over the Glassary Churchyard to look at some medieval grave stones – apparently the ‘Kil’ element in the place name Kilmichael Glassary indicates an early Christian settlement in the Glen.

Cairnbaan (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

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Cairnbaan (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Visited the evening of 21/5/17:

Found this walk by chance on our first evening. Having been out for most of the day on the way back to our accommodation we noticed a simple sign pointing to ‘cup & ring marks’ just on the corner by the between the Cairnbaan Hotel and adjacent houses. So at around 8.30pm on our first evening (the rain had stopped, the light was lovely) after a pleasant towpath walk to the hotel we found the narrow path up to the Cairnbaan rock art panels. A steep uphill walk through pinewood and bluebells. Small signposts point the way to a clearing where the rock are panels are protected by railings. There were metal steps provided, however, to let visitors have a closer look. There are actually two sites with other outcrops a bit further uphill (look for the sign post). This second site is described as being one of the best examples of cup & rings around.

The lower panels contain mostly pits or cup marks, some of which are surrounded by rings and a few have lines leading out from them to natural fissures in the rock. According to the information board the Neolithic people who created the rock art may have chosen these outcrops for their views over an important route into Kilmartin Glen. The designs would have been pecked out using quartz hammerstones like those found during excavations at Torbhlaren in Kilmichael Glen. Experimental work showed that each pit took 30 to 90 minutes of repeated pecking and much concentration to create.

The upper panels contain a complex arrangement of pits, concentric rings and lines, 29 symbols in all. Again, referring to the second information board we learnt that schoolmaster Archibald Currie was the first person to write about rock art after visiting Cairnbaan in 1830. He suggested the concentric rings could represent planetary orbits around the sun. Sir James Young Simpson (pioneer of chloroform as an anaesthetic) also became a shrewd scholar of Scottish rock art observing in 1867 “They evidently indicate wherever found, a common thought of some common origin, belonging to a common people”

This walk appears as Walk 14 in "In The Footsteps Of Kings" by Sharon Webb.
Fabulous views over the Crinan Canal towards Lochgilphead to the south and hills to the north.

Templewood (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Templewood</b>Posted by tjj<b>Templewood</b>Posted by tjj<b>Templewood</b>Posted by tjj

Templewood (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Visited Sunday 21st April 2017.

This was a surprising site, not at all what I was expecting - we walked from the Nether Largie Standing Stones in the rain. Access very easy as everywhere is signposted. The bluebells were still out under the trees which, together with the relatively small size of the stones, gave the site an enchanted atmosphere. I don't think I have done this site justice as at first sight it is unspectacular compared to other stone circles. Strictly speaking this was definitely an ancient burial site which is something we are not able to say about other larger stone circles.

As with all the other sites around Kilmartin there was an excellent interpretation/information board which really helped in the understanding of the site. I have reproduced the information below:

Templewood started as a timber circle about 5,000 years ago. The wooden uprights were soon replaced with stones while a second larger stone circle was built to the south. Between 4,300 and 4,100 years ago, two cairn covered stone graves or ‘cists’ were built outside the southern circle.
Then about 4,000 years ago the northern circle’s stones were pulled from the earth and possibly re-used in nearby burials. A cist was built in the middle of the southern circle, slabs were placed between its standing stones and it was surrounded by a low cairn of cobbles. Cremated remains were buried inside the southern circle about 3,300 years ago.

Into the heavens: The two cairns built inside the southern circle about 3,300 years ago have small stone ‘false portals’ at right angles to their kerbs. Both these fake entrances face south-east towards the midwinter moonrise.

The ‘Archer’s Ghost’: Traces of those buried at Templewood emerged during excavations led by Jack Scott in the 1970s. In one grave he found three flint arrowheads, a scraper and a decorated Beaker pot but no human remains. Analysis of phosphate levels in the grave revealed the position of a person whose body had decayed away. In another grave the tooth of a child aged between four and six was found.

Nether Largie South (Cairn(s)) — Images

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Nether Largie South (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited on 21/5/17 and again on 24/5/17

This is one of the first and oldest monuments in Kilmartin Glen and reminded me a bit of West Kennet Long Barrow back home in Wiltshire. It had been re-used and rebuilt at least twice.

Information taken from the Interpretation Board.
The tomb was used for burial about 4,300 years ago when Beaker pots and flint arrowheads were placed with the dead inside the chamber. A few generations later, in the Early Bronze Age, the monument was remodelled and converted into a circular cairn like the others along the valley bottom. Two stone graves or 'cists' containing the remains of important people were added.

See plan of the tomb - this is what was found:

1. Flint, unburnt human bones, ox bones.
2. Pottery, unburnt human bones, ox bones.
3. Three beaker pots, cremated human bones.
4. Slab covering cremated human bones.
5. Empty stone grave with unburnt bones and pottery nearby.
6. Neolithic bowl.
7. Burnt human bones, broken quartz pebbles, flint knives and arrowheads, a cow tooth.

The Great X of Kilmartin (Stone Row / Alignment) — Images

<b>The Great X of Kilmartin</b>Posted by tjj<b>The Great X of Kilmartin</b>Posted by tjj<b>The Great X of Kilmartin</b>Posted by tjj

The Great X of Kilmartin (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

Visited Sunday 21/5/17

It is difficult to talk about these stones without mentioning the Nether Largie South Cairn and Templewood Stone Circle as they are very close together and seem intrinsically connected to each other.

Drawing on the information on one of the excellent interpretation boards, this X-shaped monument consists of five tall standing stones and the stump of another (no longer visible) 300 metres to the west. A central standing stone with two others at some distance either side.
Three of the stones have rock art symbols on one side and had probably been prised from outcrops decorated about 1,500 years earlier. These decorated stones may have been erected approximately 3,200 years ago about the same time as those at Ballymeanoch.

Alexander Thom (controversial archaeo-astronomer) claimed this was one of the most important lunar observatories in Britain. Recent analysis supports the idea that the stones mark where the moon rises and sets at key points in its 18.6 year cycle. The standing stones also line up with the midwinter sunrise and autumn and spring equinoxes.

Baluachraig (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Visited Thursday 25/5/17

Stopped off here again as had missed it when visiting Ballymeanoch and Dunchraigaig earlier in the week. Parked in the small car park designated for Dunchraigaig - the path to Balauchraig rock art panel is on the right of the cairn not though immediately obvious. By chance, we came a cross two American men, father and son, who were also looking for the path to Baluachraig. The father was a talker and pretty much told us his life story on the walk down. Not an uninteresting encounter but something of a distraction.
I've posted a photo of the excellent information board which gives a better image of the cup and ring marks than I could capture in the weather conditions the morning we were there.
We later went on to Ormaig from Carnasserie Castle car park. The grey clouds disappeared, the sun came out ... Ormaig blew me away and, blissfully, we didn't see another soul.

Baluachraig (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

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Dunchraigaig Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Dunchraigaig Cairn</b>Posted by tjj<b>Dunchraigaig Cairn</b>Posted by tjj

Dunchraigaig Cairn (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited Sunday 21/5/17
This was the first site we visited after Achnabreck and did so by chance really as would have passed it on our way to the 'big' sites in Kilmartin. As it turned out it seemed to form part of an astonishing archaeological complex comprising Ballymeanoch standing stones, kerb cairn and henge. And the Baluachraig rock art panel (same small car park on the opposite side of the road and same gate for all three sites).

Dunchraigaig, as with all the Kilmartin sites has a superb interpretation/information board. This one tells us that the cairn was excavated in the 19th century firstly by Rev. Reginald Mapleton and then again in 1864 by Canon William Greenwell. Inside the graves they found two decorated pots, flint chips and human remains. Among the cairn stones were a whetstone for sharpening metal, a stone axehead, a flint knife and pottery. All now lost.

Ballymeanoch — Images

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Ballymeanoch — Fieldnotes

Visited Sunday 21/5/17
This was the first site we visited after Achnabreck in the rain. Or rather I should say after the Dunchraigaig cist/cairn - as you have to walk past cairn to get to the field where the Ballymeanoch stones stand. To the right of Dunchraigaig is a path to the Balauchraig rock art panel - which we visited later in the week. I mention it here as it seems to be part of the whole picture. The small car park is on the opposite side of the road and is signposted for Dunchraigaig.

Ballymeanoch is an amazing, atmospheric place. One field contains:
- A four stone row of exceptionally tall stones, one of which has cup marks on it.
- A two stone row which apparently included a third holed stone. This stone has been moved from its original position and now lies in a different part of the field near the kerb cairn.
- A kerb cairn
- And a henge. Not clearly visible until you walk up to it. The henge is the only surviving one of its kind in Scotland.

Spent quite a bit of time here soaking up the atmosphere before heading to the Kilmartin Museum and cafe.

Achnabreck (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Fieldnotes

Visited 21/5/17: We passed the sign for Achnabreck on our way to the accommodation we were going to be staying in at Cairnbaan so it was with no difficulty we drove back there the next day. We could have walked but that morning it was raining ... heavily. We were undeterred and, after a bumpy drive up the forest track, found the designated parking area.
The information/interpretation boards are abundant and full of useful information. We followed the clearly marked trails up to Acknabreck 1. In no way did the rain spoil the enjoyment of seeing my first Kilmartin rock art panels although my photos didn't do them justice. On then to Achnabreck 2. A smaller though as equally impressive panel. We understood there was third panel further on and did walk on a bit to find it, unsuccessfully. Very much wanted to walk back up there from Cairnbaan - as there is a narrow short-cut road just past Cairnbaan Hotel which comes out opposite the sign for Achnabreck - in better weather but one week just wasn't long enough.

Achnabreck - also known as Achnabreac in Gaelic which might contain elements that mean 'speckled'.

Achnabreck (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

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Carnasserie (Stone Row / Alignment) — Images

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Carnasserie (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

Visited 25/5/17. This is a lovely spot - or was the warm sunny day we visited on the way back from the Ormaig rock carving panels. These two standing stones were not really visible on our outward walk to Ormaig - perhaps they were but as we weren't looking for them we didn't see them until our return walk. Walking back from Ormaig they are clearly visible from a distance and stand just below a cairn on the crest of the hill. They also appear to be visually aligned with the cairn on the opposite hilltop (I think called Cairn Baan though not near the village of Cairn Baan).

Great views towards Carnasserie Castle and Kilmartin village - and whatever the reason for these hillside standing stones they would of acted as an marker for any ancient travellers making their way from the coast to Kilmartin.
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Passionate about:
Nature; stone circles and all ancient sites that involve walking through unspoilt countryside/being near the sea; islands around the the British Isles, especially those with ancient monuments.

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