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Trethevy Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

Visited: 10 Oct 2017

Visited after our trip to the Hurlers. As expected down a narrow single (almost) track road to a small 'island'. From here Trethevy Quoit is well signposted to a field gate. What initially surprises about this ancient monument is its proximity to some nearby houses and to the field entrance. I had read quite a bit about damage being done to the base of the monument by cattle and farm vehicles though could see no evidence of animals or any recent damage on this occasion.

It is an enormous monument which can't help but impress. Oddly though, I was strangely unmoved by it - perhaps I missed viewing it from a distance on the skyline first as with other monuments of this nature I have visited. Didn't have to walk through a bog, or jump a stream, or circumnavigate farm animals. Perhaps it was just too easy.

Very glad to have seen it though.

The Hurlers (Stone Circle)

Visited: 10 Oct 2017.
Part of an 'archaeology day' while visiting east Cornwall for a few days last week (also on same day walked by Golitha Falls, took in an early Christian stone cross, Trethevy Quoit and an ancient well).

We were turned away from the first car park as you drive into Minions as it had been taken over by a film crew for filming "The Kid Who Would Be King" (to be released 2018). So we parked at the second car park which had a horse transporter lorry carrying stunt horses parked up in it. We walked across the moorland towards the Hurlers and spotted a large fake trilithon, about the same height at Stonehenge. it did seem surreal especially when a friendly man in a high viz jacket told me not to take photos. I'm not very good at doing as I'm told these days.

It was a bit of a grey day with mist hanging low threatening to turn into rain and the whole experience seemed to be coloured by the bizarre nature of the background activity though I wouldn't go as far as to say it distracted from my first impression of the Hurlers. We wandered over to the Pipers - two comparatively large lichen covered stones, then had to choose between walking over to the Cheesewring or going to have a cream tea in a friendly looking cafe at Minions. The cream tea won.

A bit later we watched some of the filming taking place on the other side of Minions and perhaps more dramatically one wild pony chase another off into the distance then gallop back again across the road. Heart in mouth while watching.

Duloe (Stone Circle)

Visited: 9 October 2017.
Last week spent a lovely few Cornish days based in Fowey. Took a slight detour on route to visit Duloe stone circle. Not that easy to find using a road atlas and we were almost in Looe before we realised we had gone too far. Find it we did though as I have wanted visit Duloe since first reading Julian Cope's impressions in the TMA book.

Dated 2000BC, it is unique for being Cornwall's smallest stone circle with the largest stones. There is a (now much faded by the elements) information board which gives quite a lot of information if you able to read it. The circle is less than 12 metres in diameter and consists of eight quartz rich stones which contain ankerite. This suggests they were obtained from Herodsfoot mine, although similar stones are found at Tregartland Tor, Morval.

A nearby farm is recorded as being named Stonedown as far back as 1329 but the circle was not officially discovered until 1801, probably because it was bisected by a hedge and stood half in an orchard and half in a field. The bisecting hedge was removed in 1858 by Rev T.A. Bewes of Plymouth and 1861 the fallen stones were set up although the one broken in the process now lies prostrate. At the same time an urn said to be full of bones was discovered at the base of the largest stone but broken accidentally by the workmen and now lost. In light of this it is thought be a bronze age burial mound.

Llety'r Filiast (Burial Chamber)

Visited 13th Sept 2017: my second visit to the Great Orme. The first two and half years ago was specifically to visit the Copper Mines. This time we went went up to the top of the Great Orme by the tramway from Llandudno - which is a recommended and enjoyable experience. As before, however, there was a fierce wind blowing along with daunting rain showers sweeping in over the Great Orme headland. Wonderfully dramatic but not really walking weather. Had a look around the Visitor's Centre and learnt about Cromlech ar y Gogarth or Cromlech on the Great Orme (Llet y'r Filiast). The helpful volunteer told me it could be found about 150 metres below the Great Orme Mines so we used our tramway return tickets to take us back down to the Halfway Station. From here we found our way down to some houses on the higher edges of Llandudno - and asked a local resident. The cromlech was actually in a field at the end of Cromlech Road with a good stile into the field. In the great scheme of magnificent restored portal tombs this one was quite small but none the less very satisfying to find on that wind swept chilly North Wales day. The cherry on the cake of a memorable day.

Kintraw (Standing Stone / Menhir)

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.

Torbhlaren (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

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)

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)

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)

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))

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)

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)

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.

Dunchraigaig Cairn (Cairn(s))

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

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)

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'.

Carnasserie (Stone Row / Alignment)

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.

Ormaig (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Visited Thursday 25/5/17 - the sun finally broke through the mist/drizzle of earlier in the week and it was actually hot. Started walk from the car park for Carnassarie Castle following the directions from 'Walk 3' in "In The Footsteps Of Kings" book (purchased earlier in the week from Kilmartin Museum shop) which also contains a clear map and grid references. Distance 7km/4.4 miles.

Quite a strenuous walk through pine woodland but mostly in the open so not much respite from the strange phenomena of strong sunshine. Much of what was forest has now been felled. Still a lovely walk though, with a cuckoo clearly calling throughout. The panels can be seen on the hillside as you approach downhill and the walk back up to them was particularly lovely with a fast flowing stream below, butterflies and moths scattering before us onto the late bluebells and other wild flowers.
The views from the panels towards Loch Craignish were stunning in the sunlight. The interpretation board at the bottom of the slope suggested that perhaps the carvings were made to indicate the way from the sea to Kilmartin Glen burial centre.
There are seven discrete panels exposed, one with the quite rare rosette design, rings, parallel lines and grooves. On one of the smaller stones just cup marks. Now protected as an Ancient Scheduled Monument, one of the lower panels has names carved by John Campbell in 1874 and Archie Campbell in 1877.

The walk back was very interesting as we took time to walk up to the two standing stones and cairn just above Carnasserie Castle, which was a wonderful spot. Perhaps it was the lovely weather or the slightly challenging walk - this visit remains very vivid in my memory.

Cold Kitchen Hill (Long Barrow)

Visited this substantial long barrow in deep Wiltshire near Warminster today. Almost at the top of Cold Kitchen Hill but not quite. Situated just below the brow of the hill - can be seen clearly on the walk up but not from the highest point of the hill. I think there have been discussions in the past on why it seems Neolithic people chose this position rather than the summit of the hill. Visuals perhaps.
A great walk from Longbridge Deverill (traveled by train to Westbury where met by walk friend) then along the ridge to Bidcombe Wood which was full of bluebells and wild garlic. All pretty wonderful.
Not posting a photo of long barrow as can't add anything to Gladman's marvelous sky/cloud photos.

Uffington Castle (Hillfort)

Today (after the nation's collective bad weekend) I had the opportunity to walk up White Horse Hill at Uffington. Probably my favourite place, the place that represents home to me. The moment my feet start to walk up, peace descends and the turmoil of our current political situation fades, not into insignificance but certainly into proportion. This is my England, ancient and symbolic. A profusion of orchids and wild thyme growing on the banks of the hillfort. Sat on a wooden bench up there to have a snack, listening to the skylarks, watching red kite soar up from below and rise high into the thermals, in the distance the London train speeds by - looking almost toy-like from this height . The white horse is currently being re-chalked but paid my usual respects anyway. Then for a walk along the Ridgeway, more wild orchids. Didn't go as far as Wayland's Smithy today, just wanted to see, touch and hear my little bit of old England again. Feeling a better for it - for now anyway.

Kilbeg (Court Tomb)

My final stony entry from my memorable holiday in Donegal. This is thanks to my map reading, tomb hunting companion for the week. After visiting the Muckros peninsula, we found a rather breath taking megalithic tomb at Kilbeg on top of hill overlooking Teelin Bay and the Slieve League mountains. We had to climb over a fence and up a hill to see it - I must admit to being a little reticent but friend went up the hill first before urging me to follow. I did and it was so worth the climb to the top of the hill - siting a tomb in such a place of wild beauty makes so much sense when you are actually there. The tomb is basically what we would describe as ruined but still very recognisable as a court tomb.

Nearest town Kilcar, Map ref: OSI (Ireland) Discovery Series, No. 10, grid ref: 598755. This series of maps has all the megalithic tombs and other ancient monuments shown on it so an 'essential'.
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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.

My TMA Content: