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

Latest Posts — Fieldnotes

Showing 1-25 of 17,842 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 25

Torran Ban (Hillfort)

Torran Ban is a beautifully located fort, resting in the neuk between the hills of Tom Mor (north) and Clais Gharbh (east) next to Ballinlagg Wood.

Plenty of parking just before the farm at Ballinlagg near a track that veers east giving wonderful views south to the Cairngorms.

As you arrive at the fort watch for the sign that puts occupation possibly starting at the late Bronze Age. Keep following the track until a gate is found, a track of sorts leads to the forts front door. No defences surround the top of the fort which is an empty 44m wide, natural defences north and east are steep. Defences that remain are to the south and west with fairly wide ramparts that taper away as they reach their outer edges.

I loved this place, completely unexpected and when you see it an obvious place for a fort. Superb!

Visited 31/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th January 2020ce

An Sithean (Chambered Cairn)

26/01/2020 - Staying in Kyle of Lochalsh for a few days. Decided to take the bus out to Broadford for a stroll. This really is a lovely location for a cairn and a fine walk there and back. The weather had a bit of everything today. Luckily the sun popped out as we reached the cairn. There's a bench nearby for a sit and a grand view. Nice day out. thelonious Posted by thelonious
27th January 2020ce
Edited 28th January 2020ce

Tom an Uird Wood (Cairn(s))

Head west and uphill from Balnallan cairn and you'll come across another deer fence, you will also come across an unrecorded cairn. It was also had the first hint of winter with a small sprinkling of snow.

The cairn sits at 4m high and is 0.5m high, some kerbs remain and the centre has been houked. Possible evidence of a cist remain, sadly its stones have been removed probably to be used as small lintels.

A nice small cairn and a report sent to Canmore.

Visited 31/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
24th January 2020ce

Balnallan (Cairn(s))

Just to the west of the Mains of Dalvey, on Speyside (A95), there is a minor road heading south. Take it and pull in just as the west side of the road becomes treeless. At the south end of the field there is gate, cross the field and head up the short but steep climb to the west. Head slightly south, at the top, until a place is reached where the deer fence ends. Cross the field heading north west to another gate and simply follow the fence south for a few metres until you walk straight into the cairn.

Discovered in 1989, the cairn is apparently undisturbed being 10m wide and over 1m high. Some kerbs remain on the south side. After a wee look round I ventured uphill and west for a short distance to discover the remnants of an unrecorded cairn.

A beautiful place to start the day.

Visited 31/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
24th January 2020ce

Saval More (Field Stone) (Standing Stone / Menhir)

I found the stone pair in the graveyard up the road but couldn't find this stone. There's a new GAA ground in the place that it's marked on the map, but the positioning could be wrong. ryaner Posted by ryaner
20th January 2020ce

Tarrenhendre (Round Cairn)

I once read - in an interview with Andy Partridge, perhaps? - that one of the defining idiosyncrasies of an Englishman (one assumes an Englishwoman, too?) is a propensity to 'make lists'... or was it 'to collect'? Clearly, the memory isn't what it once was. Whatever the case, both could be seen as manifestations of that oft-derided 'insular character' so readily applied to a specific, indigenous male demographic of this island of ours. If so, it's probably fair to say such a generalisation is applicable in my case - with one important caveat: I like to collect 'experiences', memories... not things. Some bad; the majority, hopefully, good. All are worthwhile additions since, as Mr Cope pointed out some years back everything, the positive and the negative, fuels, helps to inform my 'Rock 'n Roll'. Albeit running to a rather more European-esque, sequencer baseline.

Now while naturally, I'm aware that 'writing stuff down' is of benefit to the, er, advancing memory, maintaining the designated hierarchy when planning visits, for example, can be problematic when one is open to influence by external stimuli, by sensory perception. A case in point being Tarrenhendre. Indeed, a return to this relatively obscure outlier of the wondrous Cadair Idris, while certainly upon 'the list' was, to be frank, so far down as to be languishing within the proverbial 'footer'. There simply are not enough days within our fleeting turn upon this global stage, this cabaret... sometimes Liza Minnelli dark, sometimes Ethel Merman bright... this ongoing story of humanity. Factor in the, according to the map, almost prohibitively steep final approach from the south against perceived benefit and we get to the crux of the matter: the vagaries of the human mind (or at least mine)... "So, what's in it for me?" Hey, I guess I'm no different from most other people, right? To attempt to be more succinct: the large, round cairn dimly recalled from my youth crowning this 2,076ft summit - OK, technically a little way to the approx south-east of the highest point (for all us supposed geeks and assorted misfits who've always thought 'Architecture and Morality' wasn't pretentious, simply classic art) - and this inquisitive traveller were not set to rendezvous once again in the foreseeable future... if ever again?

That is until that aforementioned sensory perception saw fit to do its subliminal thang last month as I wandered the bleak fastness of Pumlumon: sea views absorbed, as if by some kind of osmosis, upon the exquisite hillfort of Pen Dinas, rising above Bont-goch Elerch; a shimmering horizon noted upon the sentinel peak herself, Pen Pumlumon-Fawr. Seemingly disparate, peripheral moments, yet electrical impulses across synapses constructing something much more. Yeah, just like the organic, beyond sensual voice of Regine Fetet, infused with 'Je ne sais pas', somehow merged, coalesced with Hard Corps' precise, robotic, Kraftwerkian beats to create a new, sublime synergy back in the mid-80's (or maybe even Vince and Alf, if you prefer?), it required the input of all Mr Partridge's 'senses working overtime' to ensure I find myself parking-up beside the farm access track to Rhos-farch, a little north of Pennal, under a leaden sky promising nothing very positive, to be honest.

The sense of inauspiciousness is heightened by the all too real perception that I am a very unwelcome guest, judging by the brusque refusal of the arriving farmer to even acknowledge, let alone reciprocate, my friendly greeting. What is it with some people? OK, walker/landowner relations can sometimes get a little fraught, with neither party able to claim a monopoly of righteousness... but to my mind, there is no excuse for such sheer bad manners. Whatever, the gurgling Afon Pennal has sufficient class to compensate for any number of apparently ignorant people and I'm nevertheless, inspired to go walkabout. The farm access track bears a ravaged notice proclaiming 'Private Road'... however since such-like are never (in my long experience) an impediment to rural wandering on foot, I head off down the track to join with the public footpath ascending Tarrenhendre's southern ridge. However, upon achieving said junction, a retrospective glance at the exit gate reveals another notice declaring the route I've just taken as 'out of bounds'. I'll leave you to make your own judgement. But what's done in good faith is done, right? The public footpath - or rather stony track - arcs to the left before branching steeply right to advance across the lush grass of Ffridd Rhosfarch, the primary line servicing the old quarry within Cwm Ebol.

OK, before proceeding any further I should declare a fair degree of favouritism toward the Afon Dyfi (Dovey). Yeah, as much as I'm captivated, in turn, by the aesthetic appeal of the Mawddach, the Dwyryd, Snowdon's very own Afon Glaslyn, the wild Ystwyth of Cwmdeuddwr, even... and surely no river executes a more emphatic discharge to the sea than Pumlumon's Severn (Hafren)... only one watercourse rises within the ancient, traditionally lawless heartland of Ardudwy, cradled within the rocky bosom of Aran Fawddwy. I guess, no matter how we might deny it in polite company, we all harbour a fascination for the outlaw, the moody outsider? And this approach to Tarrenhendre offers arguably almost the finest of all vantage points to witness the former Llaethnant continually achieve its full potential. Second only to the view from the summit ridge rising above, in fact. Needless to say, the impact is greater upon the descent.

In due course the path arrives at the bwlch below Tarren Rhosfach, the space more-or-less occupied by sheepfolds, whereby the 'ask' demanded of me by the mountain to reach the top becomes all too readily apparent. Ouch. A near-on vertical ascent upon grass with no discernible path to speak of, the 'zig-zag' depicted upon my map notwithstanding. Which, when you think about it, is not really surprising? I mean, who in their right mind would want to climb up there to see an old pile of stones? Point taken. Particularly with tendrils of unforecasted hill fog beginning to grasp at the summit towering to the north, above the headwall of the cwm of the Afon Alice. Which begs the obvious question, just who was Alice? (wise to leave Roy 'Chubby' Brown out of such a deliberation, methinks?). What is beyond doubt, however, is the fact that I must earn my rendezvous the hard way by expending every joule of energy at my disposal. The fenceline running the length of Y Tarenau's extensive main ridge - some seven miles of it - is an correspondingly awful long time a'coming, something which appears to be a recurring personal theme nowadays. Nevertheless I... eventually... arrive at the crest of what is named Mynydd Esgairweddan upon the 1:25k ODS map, a pretty featureless 'lumpy hump' which refuses to divulge the whereabouts of some apparent monuments listed by Coflein with anything approaching ease. Suddenly feeling somewhat nervous due to the inclement, not to mention deteriorating conditions, I elect to head straight for my ultimate goal... and resign myself to having a detailed look upon my return. The 'umbilical cord' fenceline, reassuringly, heads unerringly to the great cairn of Tarrenhendre. Too unerringly, in fact, ignobly bisecting the monument in the process. But there you are.

And 'great cairn' it certainly is! Despite the dual indignity of wire and rather pathetic modern marker cairn plonked on top, there is no muppet shelter to be found here, the monument seemingly intact and standing apparently inviolate upon its coastal perch. Although featuring a grassy mantle, the cairn boasts a fine profile and relatively consistent elevation. Check! As noted earlier, the great stone pile does not occupy the actual summit of Tarrenhendre. However, to my mind the visitor doesn't need to look far for this apparent oversight, if not error... indeed, the evidence is all around: staring, awestruck, to the south-west, the magnificent vista towards Aberdyfi and Cardigan Bay highlights the anfractuous course of the Afon Dyfi to perfection; to the approx west, the aforementioned ridge of Y Tarenau is seen snaking away toward Tarren Cwm-ffernol and the significantly be-cairned Trum Gelli, the latter visited a few years ago; while to the south, looking across the sinuous river to the upland cemeteries upon Foel Goch and Moel y Llyn - the latter, incidentally, the subject of another localised 'lady in the lake' legend - the gaze, with eyes straining to penetrate the swirling mist, finally comes to rest upon the summit of Pumlumon herself. Pen Pumlumon-Fawr. Mother of Rivers.

And so the subliminal workings of this challenged mind achieve their goal by finally reversing the perspective of last month. Yeah, for me there can be no doubt behind the placement of this cairn. It had to be, surely, the epic outlook such a position presented, the overview of the Dyfi reaching the sea? To check this theory out, as any good scientist would insist an enthusiastic, er, layman should, I make my way to the summit to discover it is, indeed, simply not in the same league as its panoramic neighbour. OK, that's not to say the views toward Dyffryn Dysynni, yet another upland cemetery gracing Allt Lwyd, not to mention Cadair Idris (although the latter is mostly subsumed in vapour) are not expansive - hey, I even reckon I can make out the iconic hill fort upon Craig Yr Aderwyn? - but, let's face it.... the Dyfi is the business around these parts and, owing to the relatively uniform topography of the summit plateau, this traveller can only conclude the great cairn is where it needed to be. Needs to be, in fact.

And there's more. Following lunch perched upon the craggy eastern face of the mountain, looking across to Tarren-y-Gesail (Y Tarenau's cairn-less summit top) progressively losing an ongoing duel with the all-encompassing hill fog, I return to the cairn to chill out - a little too literally, unfortunately - and discover a further, completely grassed-over monument a little to the approx north(ish) of the star attraction at SH6839103998. According to Coflein, this represents:

"Remains of round barrow standing 1m high and eroded away to an almost rectangular shape on the windward sides. Approx. dimensions 7m x 4m. S.D. Lowden, Archaeophysica, 1 June 2006."

So there you are. In fact Coflein cites another prehistoric site, but that is not forthcoming in the billowing mist. Perhaps it's just me? Checking the time I realise I have to make a move to reach the car before dark. Like, er, now? So I begin the descent and, despite another quick review of Mynydd Esgairweddan, do not discern anything I could say, with my hand on my heart (not that I'm attempting to dump Kylie, or anything, you understand?) matched Coflein's descriptions. But there you are. The descent back to the bwlch is not exactly what tired, aching legs would choose if they were sentient, but what has to be done, has to be done... and the views of Dyffryn Dyfi, free from the gathering gloom, really are exquisite compensation. Arriving back at Rhos-farch I briefly consider ignoring the 'Einreise Verboten!' but, in accordance with my moral code, decide to give the landowner the benefit of the doubt and stick to the 'official' route. I mean, how far can it be? And no one with a realistic, holistic view of life in 2019 would deliberately take actions to discourage tourism, the very economic lifeblood of Wales? Surely not? Hmm. Prospective visitors should note that it is, in fact, a considerable diversion so I leave you to consider the intelligence/morality of suchlike. So, more-or-less dead on my feet, I finally arrive back at the car. It's been a long, challenging day, both physically and mentally. And, upon reflection, one I wouldn't have undertaken if it hadn't been for the subliminal deliberations of this lump of grey matter we call the human mind. Ah, introspection. Guess it's what separates us, alienates us from the other creatures inhabiting this crazy, spinning globe. I mean, Molly, my cat, will truculently bite me one moment, yet smooch up 30 minutes later as if nothing had occurred. No sense of 'memory'? Or maybe she's simply ruthlessly manipulating me for her own ends? Dunno. But there's no way she would ever consider climbing a mountain. Lazy cat.

However, if 'introspection' is, indeed, what locked us out of the primaeval forest and gives us so much pain... joy and, crucially, hope for the future... You who are about to be introspective - I salute you!
19th January 2020ce

Pen Pumlumon-Fawr (Cairn(s))

Ah, Pumlumon.... I've never been able to determine, to articulate the origin of the apparent synchronicity that exists between this often world-weary traveller... and the soggy summit of The Cambrian Mountains; this synergy inspiring me to efforts well outside my comfort zone, drawing me back to these bleak uplands time and time again where, or so it would appear, so few modern antiquarians see fit to tread nowadays.

OK, consider: there is the unrivalled rising of THREE major Welsh rivers upon the main ridge according Pumlumon the status of fountainhead extraordinaire; there is its location, both geographically and within the national consciousness, blocking access to the fastness of Gwynedd, natural fortress of yore, from the south - pivotal watershed in more ways than one; then there is Pumlumon's inclusion within the exclusive traditional mountain triumvirate of Wales (the others being, of course, Yr Wyddfa herself and Cadair Idris); and last but certainly not least, the fact that the local Bronze Age inhabitants saw fit to erect Wales', arguably the UK's, finest collection of upland cairns upon Pumlumon and her subsidiary hills. You know, upon reflection I reckon all the above are pretty compelling reasons to visit. But considered in unison the mix is overwhelmingly potent.

Consequently, it's rather ironic that the decision to ascend to the sentinel summit once again was - as seven years previously - a spur-of-the-moment thing made following three days wild camping below. Yeah, packed and ready to leave upon a glorious, cloudless morning the sight - or perhaps the sound, the 'aural sculpture'? - of the cascading Maesnant proves the catalyst for an abrupt change of plan. A volte-face or, if you prefer, Amy Winehouse's '180'. To be fair, it does happen to me. Quite a bit, in fact. Clearly it would take minds far exceeding mine in complexity to rationalise such apparently arbitrary choices in a coherent manner; however should one of those 'engineers' from Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus' happen to suddenly appear brandishing a 'universal translator' gizmo, what odds that the fast-flowing waters were revealed to be saying something akin to "And WTF do you think you're doing on a day like this, muppet? Up you go and let's say no more about this, capisce?"

Whatever, it's good advice since cloudless mornings at Pumlumon, in my experience, tend to be notable by their absence. Hence, despite a gaping hole in my left boot acquired the previous day, I shove everything back in the car boot and set off steeply uphill alongside the left-hand (northern) bank of the tumbling stream. The path, such as it is, is certainly soggy, but since rivers not only run through here but are endlessly reborn here, what else should one expect? Just not ideal with a hole in the footwear such as to cause Neil from the Young Ones to have a really heavy bummer. Indeed, the route soon crosses the access track to one such river's 'womb', the Llyn Llygad-Rheidol (Eye of the Rheidol) cradled beneath the powerful, craggy northern face of Pen Pumlumon Fawr, now beckoning to the approx south-east. From here the view is that of restrained anticipation, rather than head-spinning primaeval beauty - just as I like my approaches. Well, you wouldn't tuck straight into the main course of a cordon-bleu meal without the hors d'oeuvres, would you? Or perhaps you would?

As chance would have it I happen to catch up with another punter, previously some way in front, taking a breather before the final push to the summit. However any triumphant exclamations of 'Get in there! There's life in this old dog yet!' are stifled at source upon ascertaining said gentlemen is not only an octogenarian... but also convalescing from a recent heart attack. Yeah, clad in a 'Cwm Ystwyth' T-shirt - a none too subtle clue to the whereabouts of his retirement home (and, incidentally, site of a wild camp earlier this week) - he's happy to discuss the relative merits of large scale geological maps versus the current OS series.. or rather 'educate' since I know nothing of the former... and can barely use the latter, even after all these years. One thing we can agree upon with more-or-less certainty, however, is there is 'something' about Pumlumon... so quiet, trodden by relatively few boots etc.... and there are surely few more rewarding places to be this morning. The irony - yes, that again - is therefore not lost upon me when having bid farewell and made (very) surprisingly short work of the final ascent, I'm greeted by a horde of ramblers seemingly poured over the summit like Lyle's Golden Syrup over that pudding I used to have as a kid. To be fair the 'person in charge' does apologise for the rather excessive noise of her charges.

Nonetheless, miserable bastard that I am, I instead retreat eastward to enjoy a peaceful, extended sojourn overlooking the aforementioned Llyn Llygad Rheidol. This is arguably the finest perch upon Pumlumon, with the quartzite blocks of the Cerrig Cyfamod Glyndwr, shining beyond the brooding tarn to approx north, drawing the gaze toward a horizon crowned by Cadair Idris and The Arans. Here, at this classic spot making a mockery of all who seek to arraign this wondrous mountain with charges of monotony, minutes imperceptibly become several hours until, eventually, I venture a little further west toward an apparently inauspicious bog to the north of Pen Lluest-y-Carn to labour the point. For here, within this infelicitous marsh, rises none other than the sinuous River Wye (the Blaen Afon Gwy). Furthermore, as if having two prodigious watercourses seeping from the very earth in the immediate locale isn't enough.... just a mile or so further to the north-east, beyond the massive cairns of Pen Pumlumon-Arwystli, can be found the birthplace of the Afon Hafren; the mighty Severn. This traveller knows of no other comparable landscape within these Isles. Frankly, the mind swims at the realisation, at the significance of what we have here set among the great cairns. This is the compelling reason to come to Pumlumon.

But what about the cairns? Yeah, forgot about those. Returning to the now-empty fastness of Pen Pumlumon-Fawr's summit a diverse trio of stone piles can be appreciated, each affording magnificent panoramic views, particularly to the north-west where, gazing out across a multitude of similarly-endowed lesser hills to the distant Dyffryn Dyfi, the rounded green tops of Y Tarenau catch both my eye and deep consciousness. Not that I realise it yet. South-westward, the main ridge connects Y Garn, resplendent with its own massive Bronze Age behemoth, to the sentinel, while to the west Aberystwyth sparkles in the autumn sunshine, in turn, marking journey's end for our pre-eminent senior mountaineer's own river. Of the three cairns, the central has by far the largest footprint, if not elevated profile; in fact, it is so large - and unfortunately so disturbed (has there been significant slippage?) - that it is debatable whether any authority can ever definitively assign dimensions. Suffice to say, the incomparable Miosgan Meadhbha looming over Sligo notwithstanding, it covers the largest surface area of any proper upland cairn I've seen and holds three 'muppet shelters' with ease. Although the educated will weep at the actions of such ignorant people. Stupid is as stupid does, as Tom Hanks perceptively remarked once upon a time. In stark contrast, the northern monument is, by Pumlumon standards, rather small. But nevertheless nicely formed.

Which brings me to the southern cairn, arguably combining the aesthetic best of both worlds with a classic profile incorporating significant volume of stone. By any account a classic upland cairn, particularly when appreciated in context bathed in the warmest of warm light ... but, as usual it's all about where they put it. Crucially, crowning a mountain that, for me, defies all classification. Unique, teeming with prehistory, Mother of Rivers and occupying a salient position within this nation we call Wales... perhaps it is its very idiosyncrasy that places Pumlumon in a class of its own.

"And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.... But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure" (thanks Claudia).
14th January 2020ce

Carn Liath (Long Cairn)

Well, I eventually got back to this site this afternoon - hoping in vane for a slight covering of snow or frost.

The strange little artificial flower arrangement was still there - or the remnants. No new funerary offerings to be seen.

I've added some new photos. Different light today highlighted different features.

My first post for some considerable time....
strathspey Posted by strathspey
10th January 2020ce

Airigh Mhaoldonuich (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Visited 03.07.11

This site is actually Callanish XV. See Canmore ID 72849 for further details.
Posted by markj99
6th January 2020ce

Coity Chambered Tomb

Eric and I didnt have a problem getting to the site, I parked by the house next to the footpath, there were two stiles I think and there we have it, but we didn't, oh no, no sign of it at all. It should be pretty visible by the hedge but it was gone, I began to doubt my sons stone finding abilities. Hadn't I taught him well?
I couldnt see it where it was supposed to be so we went past it til it was obvious we'd gone too far, then went back down the hill, then I walked past where it should have been to the end of the field, still nothing. So I jumped a hedge or two and found an older couple walking their dog, apparently they knew where the burial chamber was, I walked with them til we got to a point where they said it's in that field there through that gate up against the hedge. Perfect, that's the field I've just come from, so I went back through the gate went straight to the top of the field and walked slowly back down, poking about in the undergrowth, and yaaay there it is, I think, more than poking about is needed here, it is almost completely invisible. About now I begin to wonder where Eric is, did he follow me into the other fields or go back to the car?
I set about clearing the brambles, ferns and long grasses, I have no shears, no scissors, my teeth are pretty blunt so I trample as best I can while being torn to shreds. I got six photos in then the brambles tripped me over and my camera went inexplicably misty, two more unsatisfactory photos and I have to admit that I need to come back and do it properly, but god knows when that will be. I have run out of time, I have a date tonight, a date with the force and light sabers, a galaxy far away brings me back to normality, and a long drive home.
postman Posted by postman
5th January 2020ce

Cae'r-Hen-Eglwys (Standing Stones)

My daughter is in her second year away at university in delightful Stoke on Trent, I miss her terribly, but I needn't worry about her as she now has a boyfriend to look after her, and he does. When she is home, twice now she's asked me to drive her down to his house so they can be together. This is a double edged sword, he lives in Wales, near llantwit Major, South Wales, just about as far away from us as is possible whilst still being in the country next door. But on the other hand there are plenty of stones round here that I haven't yet had the pleasure of because they are so far away. The first time I took her down I dropped her off and went to see some cairns on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, this time I took the time to go in and meet his mum, but she was out, so I hugged the daughter and said goodbye, then Eric and me went off to find some stones.

I don't own the map that I need to find them, but I took some photos of the online map and Eric has his smart phone, so I trust in my 17 year old son and head off north towards Bridgend.
A lot of traffic slowed us down but in the end he took us down some narrow lanes and suddenly said stop, were here, are you sure I said turning to look at him, and there they are through the window beyond him. Ok well done say I.

I remember reading Gladmans scathing report of the site, lots and lots of rubbish strewn all over the place by the sounds of it. So I'm a bit apprehensive.
There is a broken information sign hiding in the bushes but I don't think it's for the stones, I climb the gate and enter the field.
Immediately I'm relieved to see there is no rubbish at all, but the double edged sword comes into play once more, this is still farm land and there is a massive pile manure not twenty yards away, but being anosmic this only offends mine sight. Between the stones and the manure is an unnavigable muddy quagmire, a treacherously unpassable sea of shit and earth, cows come here every day to feed and pass through the gate, it is a disgusting mass.
No rubbish though.

That all being something or other the stones are pretty fabulous. Standing closely a certain distance from one another, about five feet tall, one stone a tall and somewhat pointy stone leans only very slightly, but the other a broad round topped stone, it's lean is considerable, without being very exact it's lean is perhaps 55 degrees from the vertical plane.

Nice stones,
Bad mud and poo.
postman Posted by postman
5th January 2020ce

Hill Of Cally (Cairn(s))

The last site of a day that consisted of long walks and beautiful scenery. Beautiful site cannot be applied to the Hill Of Cally, despite stunning views it is a tragedy of huge proportions, in short a disgrace. It would be better, in my opinion, to completely remove the site than leave it like this :-(

The cause of this clear, it is the meeting place of four fences and a gate. A track has been ploughed through the eastern half, the north west quarter has been flattened but kerbs still stand, this in turn is a bog and cows trample all over the remaining kerbs. Only in the south west does the cairn retain some of its original size, at least ten kerbs remain in place, almost a miracle. Sadly even here is a shambles with rusting gates thrown on top. Out of the 45 kerbs mentioned in Canmore I counted 22, the cist cover seems to be still there but the other kerbs have been flung over the fence to the east. The one thing the carnage couldn't destroy was the view, especially to the south east to the Lomonds in Fife.

It all started well, parking just to the north (about 1 mile) of the Bridge of Cally to have wee walk through some barns before meeting the Old Military Road. When I reached the second wood I headed west and uphill, few fences to jump but nothing too difficult.

Informed Canmore, but I don't think they can do much.

Sad end to a lovely day.

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2020ce

White Hillocks (Cairn(s))

Just west of the Parkneuk Stone Circle I pulled into a very large passing place. Luckily just a few yards down the road there is a gate which I promptly climbed and headed west and uphill. As the track ends it becomes more of a fire break which leads straight to the White Hillocks or Heatheryhaugh cairn.

Almost hidden from view the small cairn nestles in the west side of a junction in the forest. It is now turf covered keeping the stones in the 7m wide site hidden from view, the site stands at 0.4m tall.

I like wooded sites, they tend to be peaceful and sometimes not having a view is a good thing, you can just appreciate the site itself.

Nice place.

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2020ce

Hill Of Alyth (Cairn(s))

At over 17m wide and almost 1m tall this must have been an impressive site going by the size of the kerbs, six of which still remain in place. The site is certainly impressively located with magnificent views south and west. Several displaced kerb boulders have been scarred by ploughing. The upright slab in the middle of the cairn was found by tripping over it.

Leave the Happy Hillock, head south east (downhill) and go the roads end, I parked at the junction. There are paths leading uphill which lead straight to the site. However, be careful, there are many paths. One leads up the side of a quarry, one is very steep, the correct one heads west swinging round the steep / quarry obstacles.

Lovely site!

Visited 22/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2020ce

Happy Hillock (Cairn(s))

After visiting Drumderg, head south east, downhill, on the minor road until just beyond Tullymurdoch Farm. Look west at this point and the cairn will be spotted, an easy walk with just one fence to jump.

At one time this was a very large site being over 21m in width, now it is surrounded by an equally ruinous dry steen dyke. A large slab in the middle of the cairn maybe all that remains of the rumoured three cists. Some cairn material still pokes thru and what might kerbs might well be field clearance.

Still after seeing some of sites on this days hike, the Happy Hillock is aptly named.

Visited 22/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2020ce

Cave Hill (Cairn(s))

28/12/2019 – Grassed over cairn on summit of Cave Hill. Small hole in the middle. It’s a decent sized cairn with fine views. thelonious Posted by thelonious
30th December 2019ce

McArt's Fort (Promontory Fort)

28/12/2019 – Nice walk up from Cave Hill Country Park. Not too long but a little steep in sections. Excellent place for a fort. McArt’s fort is on a rocky promontory protected by steep sides and a bank and ditch. The views across Belfast to the far distance hills are worth the walk alone. The hill is basalt and reminded me a lot of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Great place.

The profile of Cave Hill is thought maybe to have inspired Jonathan Swift to write Gulliver’s Travels. Resembling a sleeping giant.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
30th December 2019ce

Ballygomartin (Standing Stone / Menhir)

27/12/2019 – I liked this one. A lonely stone on a misty hillside. Easy enough to get to. We took the 106 bus from Belfast to Hannahstown and got dropped off at the start of Divis Road. From here it’s a nice walk up Divis to the top (very cloudy today) and then round to take the track north to this standing stone. It’s just off the side of the track. About 6 feet in height. No access problems and the fence next to it is easy to cross. Nice day out. thelonious Posted by thelonious
29th December 2019ce

Priddy Nine Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Tis but a short walk from the B3135 to Ashen hill barrows, and about the same again to the Nine barrows. The first two we come to are separated from the other seven by a wall and over a hundred yards, one is quite low and the other has suffered at the hands of time two large scoops taken from it's interior.
Popping over the wall, the next barrow reached is a very low barrow compared to the others, barely a couple of feet high, the next one is taller. I move along the line this way and that, the barrows vary in height. The last two are the most interesting, the penultimate barrow has a ditch round it, possibly a bell barrow or something. The final barrow is right at the top of North Hill, it might even be the biggest barrow, and someone has built a not unattractive stone circle on it's summit, pilfering stones from the adjacent wall, as any welsh farmer will tell you, that is how it's done.
Off to one side away from the line of barrows is one more, so in all taking them all (Ashen Hill)into account there are eighteen barrows up here, it is an astonishing place, every bit as interesting as the line of henges and massively more visitable.
Come here!
postman Posted by postman
28th December 2019ce

Ashen Hill Barrows (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

I parked on the B3135 opposite Harptree lodge then walked back up to the gate opposite the southern henge. Hopping the gate and walking across the field the barrows cut a very impressive silhouette against the skyline. I head to the far right hand barrow first, back home i'd drive a hundred miles to see a barrow like this, there's eight of them here, well seventeen or eighteen actually but......
I stand atop the western barrow and look along the line of barrows, six are in a line but the far eastern two are off line and curving the line to the south. I make my way along the line going round this one up the next and round that one. It's worth noting about now the view to the south, almost paradoxically to North Hill and it's group of nine barrows, prosaically named Priddy Nine barrows, that one must have taken a while.
Ashen Hill barrows are every bit as cool and impressive as Priddy Nine barrows, I just wanted to say that, I don't know weather it means anything to anyone but I'd heard of Priddy nine barrows but not of Ashen hill barrows, and I should have.
Having said that I gird my loins and stride of to the nine barrows.
postman Posted by postman
28th December 2019ce

Stony Littleton (Long Barrow)

Fortune favours the old.

This years winter solstice has obligingly fallen on a Sunday for me, quite a feat as any other day and I would miss it, so even though I've been at work before 5am all week, I'm happy to get up even earlier and drive the drive on my own down to Somerset, and seeing as I hit fifty last month, happy chance benefits the aging.

Even though I went too far on the M5 and ended up going the long way round Bath and Bristol, I still got to the custom made car park for Stoney Littleton before sunrise. But it was full, a motor home gleefully took up half of it and five cars took up the rest. Consternation.
I knew there would be other people here, but I expected to be able to park. So I did, in a one car space along side the road further up. Then I walked back to the car park, crossed the little foot bridge, and went up the hill.

It's been such a long time since I was last here, so long ago that I don't have any digital photos of the place, it was a winter solstice that last time too, but it was a grey day and the sun never showed up. So with a mix of blue sky and fluffy whites I was feeling pretty fortunate. As I pass the sign pointing to the mound I can see there are indeed other people here, A guy with a cowboy type looking hat stands atop the chamber, as I pass over the stile I start to hear things, a heart beat? the rhythm of the universe perhaps? I approach the entrance of the chamber, there's a woman in an oilskin coat, we nod at each other, the noise is louder now, the heart beat has quickened, the pulse of nature? No.
It is a twat with a drum, funny, there was a plonker with a drum here last time too, and he spoke like a Bristolian too, grooooan does he come here every year and take up the end of the passage, I think this is the case.

So, bereft of the best seat in the house, I walk round the structure, stand on top of the structure, then pick a spot to stand by the entrance and wait for the sun. It finally arrives at about a quarter to nine, quite late right? The chamber is on a slight hill looking up the hill, so you have to wait for the sun and when it gets here it wont be a big beautiful orange ball, but rather a bright white light, this presumably was intentional, they didn't want the faint wan light of first rising, but the strong light of a risen sun.
Just then a bloke erupted from the chamber, he looked at me, I looked at him, then I looked at the open entrance, and in I go. My chamber was the first on the right, opposite me was a woman, the mate of the bloke that just left, then she left, uncomfortable alone in the dark. Further into the passage I suspect each chamber has a body in it, the drummer takes up the back of the passage, the best seat in the house. An older man then comes past me making for the light at the end of the tunnel, so I move deeper into the chamber and take up a seat in the middle left chamber. The sun is doing it's thing, it looks phenomenal streaming along the passage and lighting up perfectly some twat with a drum, I decide upon some photos and then exit the chamber myself, am I reborn, can I see the place in a new light, hard to tell, so I go on walkabout to see the place from a different field. Up hill the walk takes me, then round and then back, not a long walk, always keeping the chambers entrance in sight, when I get back it's all empty and I'm alone with the edifice, I get into every chamber, and finally take up the best seat in the house. It's wet, dripping, they were definitely not sitting on the floor. Oddly, maybe, the bit I like best inside the passage is where it narrows to the width of a slim man, me. Purpose made.
postman Posted by postman
28th December 2019ce

Carnedd Moel Siabod (Round Cairn)

There are, I reckon it's fair to say, both positive and negative attributes to 'spontaneous action'. Ah, spontaneity: anathema to some - the methodical thinkers, planners, those with compartmentalised car boots ensuring everything is always in its right place (one assumes Thom Yorke is an advocate?)... yet a prerequisite to others - the instinctive, inquisitive, opportunistic, the reckless, even? As for myself, I guess I fall between camps... as I do for most things nowadays. Implacable opposition to religious and political extremists (particularly farcically ignorant, far left champagne socialist 'rappers') naturally proving the rule. Yeah, plan for the worst, but be prepared to improvise at short notice. Seize the opportunity. Speaking of which...

A passing shower, pounding upon what back in the day would've been canvas, wakes me with a jolt at Fferm y' Rynys, my tent, if not exactly in the shadow of the great long barrow of Capel Garmon - unfortunately sunshine is required for such a phenomenon - certainly not too distant. Upon gingerly emerging from my erstwhile cocoon I note a seemingly immutable mass of opaque, grey vapour looming where the elegant profile of Moel Siabod should be to the west. Should be, but as experience informs, all too often isn't. Nevertheless, as dawn gives way to early morning, these clouds progressively realize a warmer, more optimistic glow suggestive of change... sufficient, in fact, to prompt me to head toward Capel Curig to see what's what. One of the wettest places in the UK? What could possibly go wrong? However, sure enough, Moel Siabod's facade is present and very much correct, towering above the cascading Afon Llugwy at Pont Cynfyg. Now there are some that maintain rivers 'talk' - divulge their story, if you will - to the susceptible. If so, perhaps the Afon Llugwy should be accorded a PG rating? Whatever, the subconscious duly primed, the penny finally drops upon passing the shiny 4x4s aligned outside Plas-y-Brenin... why not reacquaint myself with the summit cairn? Ah, the moth to the flame....

Spontaneity triumphs in the ensuing deliberations and - before I have the opportunity to reflect and countermand - I set off, skirting the eastern extremity of the Llynnau Mymbyr to ascend into the trees, that familiar, intoxicating blend of nervous excitement/determination/what-the-hell-am-I-doing-you-muppet? to the fore. The path is initially heavy going underfoot: wet rock, slippery following the recent rain, the slitheryness factor exacerbated by fallen leaves... however, as height is gained and the woodland left behind it morphs into a straightforward grassy/muddy plod all the way to the top. Well, almost, that is. More-or-less. That 'the top' is a very long time coming - and takes everything I've got in my available energy reserves - probably signifies more about it being some thirteen years since my last ascent of this mountain than anything else. But there you are. With grandstand retrospective views to Y Glyderau and Y Carneddau, thankfully unimpeded by the cloud of morning, to animate the all too necessary frequent pauses... a traveller can't exactly complain, can he? Not that any spirits or other similar manifestations contravening the laws of physics that may - or may not - frequent this apparent behemoth beached humpback whale of a mountain, would give a monkey's if I did. Eventually, I reach the crest of the summit plateau, whereby the landscape suddenly explodes - hell, like John Hurt's chest in Alien - into a shattered disarray of mechanically weathered dolerite intrusion. Yeah, the 'shapely hill' bears its jagged teeth in no uncertain manner assuring further onward progress is no easy matter.

Finally, there it is. The cairn. Now as upland cairns go... structurally speaking, it is a poor example, having been hollowed-out by successive multitudes of unschooled walkers to provide shelter from the wind. Or rather, to judge by the very significant footprint, a pale evocation of its former self. Unfortunately, all this is to be expected in this day and age. Anyhow, noting that, owing to my early start, none of the aforementioned muppets is as yet on the scene, I take the opportunity for closer inspection. But not before applying every item of kit I have brought with me in an - although not totally successful - at least B+ attempt to keep out the punishingly brutal cold wind. No need to vandalise scheduled prehistoric monuments... if you understand your environment. Funnily enough, it does tend to be windy upon mountain summits. Although it has to be said that the application of thermal underwear over boots is not to be recommended. Not a good look. Although observing what passes for 'fashion' these days I'm pretty sure someone would buy it.

Anyway, the solo exploration reveals unexpected detail: a large slab and associated lesser fragments suggestive of a former cist, an assumption given further credence by what look very much like two small orthostats still remaining in situ within the 'shelter'. How these have survived the millennia upon such a popular mountain is beyond me, it really is. And yes, the circular footprint is indeed much more extensive than I recall. But it is where they put it that counts. Yeah, the archaeology, of course, is but of secondary importance to the sense of place. It is the landscape context that makes this the archetypal spot to set your Bronze Age VIP on the road to eternity. Or David Byrne's 'nowhere', depending upon your point of view.

Although this is my fifth visit over the years, the spellbinding vistas nevertheless continue to blow the mind. The key here is Moel Siabod's isolated location, standing aloof at the eastern extremity of Y Moelwynion and, to be honest, sharing little of the characteristics of its neighbours. Its elevation, measuring up at a very respectable 2,861ft, is also noteworthy thus ensuring the aesthetic dividends to be enjoyed here are among the finest in all Snowdonia. In my opinion. Today, all the old friends are present and correct: to the north, beyond the eastern heights of Y Glyderau and the obscurely wondrous long cairn at Bwlch Goleuni, are the massed summits of Y Carneddau bristling with upland cairns; to the northwest across Dyffryn Mymbyr and its cists, the chaotic, natural rockpiles of Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr separated by the unearthly Castell-y-Gwynt... the latter in its element today overlooking the soggy stone circle beside lonely Llyn Cwmffynnon; directing the gaze further west, beyond Llanberis Pass, is the Snowdon Massif, sentinel peak Yr Wyddfa subsumed within its customary cloak of grey; then Nant Gwynant and Y Cnicht... the remainder of Y Moelwynion, some peaks standing in mute, ravaged homage to Wales' former industrial heritage; eastward toward Betws-y-Coed (reversing my dawn view), the moors of Denbighshire, Y Berwyn. In fact, it is only to the south that the iconic 360-degree panorama is interrupted... by the summit itself. Easily rectified. Ah, there you go. The Migneint and Southern Snowdonia. Tick.

Here the uninitiated punter will be in for a shock, the bulbous form of Moel Siabod's northern flank - so apparently benign when viewed from the shores of Llynnau Mymbyr - catastrophically transformed in an impressive display of naked rock plunging toward the gaunt, restored keep of Dolwyddelan Castle, set far below within Cwm Lledr. Here, too, is Daear Ddu, a superb natural route of ascent (one of the finest in Snowdonia) from the glacial corrie tarn Llyn-y-Foel, a shining glint of water visible sheltering far beneath the towering north-eastern ridge. It was here (at SH71005520) that, if Coflein is to be believed, a fabulous Bronze Age shield was discovered in 1784. Surely not? But then again, what an appropriate location! I make an extended stop here to delay returning to the increasingly more popular summit, my mind swimming as a rainbow arcs across the void. Was there really a priceless treasure to be found at its base a couple of centuries past? Whatever the truth, there is certainly priceless treasure of a more metaphysical nature to be experienced here today. Steady now. But don't just take my word for it... similarly impressed, by all accounts, are a couple of 'scally' climbers struggling past... we share a brief mutual epiphany. Top lads, eyes aglow with wonder.

With a little over an hour or so before I must begin my descent, I return to the now deserted summit... and find Moel Siabod has one more surprise for me today. With minimal warning - as if a boxer flooring his opponent with a zero backlift uppercut - the cloud base swirling above Cwm Lledr and the excellent Y Ro Wen suddenly envelopes all, sending me into a claustrophobic environment of looming apparitions and spiralling wraiths of moisture. An abstruse world seemingly for my eyes only. The sun, however, refuses to submit... and, upon executing a 180, I find myself face to face with... myself. A Brocken Spectre, a rainbow kaleidoscope of colour illuminating my shadow as if I've become the 'Ready-brek Kid' styled by JMW Turner himself. That's making the assumption it wasn't the former occupant of the nearby cairn going walkabout? Or a ghostly warrior muttering 'I'm sure I left it hereabouts?' No, definitely the wind. I think. Wow, what a finale.

Returning to the cairn I make a compass bearing for Plas y Brenin and, after confirming this with one taken earlier (as is my way) and throwing a respectful nod to times - and people - past, I set off back down the mountain. Overjoyed, but a little unnerved, too. Emerging from the gloom I find my bearing is true, but nevertheless I'm quite a way to the west of the path. Rain moves in during the final half-mile and I realise my window of opportunity was indeed but fleeting. Spontaneity, eh? I'm all for it. But best take a compass....
28th December 2019ce

Rannagulzion (Cairn(s))

The cairn at Rannagulzion is a short walk east from the standing stone at Drumderg. Follow the track, head south east at the crossroads into the heather.

Turf covers the site but one or two bits of cairn material poke through. It sits at nearly 7m wide being 0.5 tall.

Sadly the cairn at NO 1747 5494 could not be found.

Visited 22/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th December 2019ce

Drumderg (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Head south on the minor road from Cairn Gleamnach and you'll reach the the Drumderg Wind Farm. I parked at the large area near the locked gates. It says danger to walkers, I ignored this thinking it highly unlikely a turbine would land on my head.

The standing stone is about a 400m walk from the road and is to the north side of the track. It is impressive, well shaped and stands at 2m tall. Well positioned it has fantastic views, the Lomonds (in Fife) to the south, west to Gleamnach, east to the Angus hills and north to Glenshee.


Visited 22/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th December 2019ce

Cairn Gleamnach (Cairn(s))

Cairn Gleamnach is an almost unbelievable site, almost 20m wide, in some parts 1m tall, it has been quarried and it has been houked. I counted 64 kerbs, 40 of which were earthfast in kerb that surrounds the entire site except for the entrance for the houking and quarrying.

Take the minor road heading south east from the A93 heading south from the B950 junction. After a long straight, I pulled in at a small wood near the Hill Of Kingseat, the site is a short walk of 100m behind.

Tremendous site!

Visited 22/10/2019.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th December 2019ce
Showing 1-25 of 17,842 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 25