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Finavon Hillfort



Unlike the (not too distant) paired Caterthun enclosures, the hillfort at Finavon is not sign-posted.... consequently I made a bit of a meal of finding it, even climbing a hill to the east before establishing where it actually was. Perhaps a proper OS map would have been a good idea, then? The effort is worth it, however, since I would cite this as a very fine hillfort indeed.

Not being in the habit of ingesting anything stronger than a few pints of 'Hobgoblin' (not very trendy in some circles, perhaps, but then I do like to keep a clear head to experience things as they truly are) I don't feel qualified to comment upon MatThe Cat's previous notes... except to agree that, in my opinion, Finavon certainly does possess a haunting vibe. As with medieval castles, the visitor needs to remember that, as well as being a home, the encircling ramparts were built for a brutal reason. Yeah, ritual, prestige and 'bling' surely played a part, but there have been far too many discoveries of mass graves at hillforts to confirm that defence was most probably the primary consideration. Finavon is a case in point, the rampart (according to excavations carried out in 1933-4 by Childe) originally being approx 20' thick and 16' high externally. A powerful defence line indeed. Of greater interest, perhaps, is the heavilly vitrified nature of the wall, vitrification being the processes by which timber-laced ramparts were fused to a very hard, glass-like substance through extreme heat - i.e. fire. The key question is, of course, whether this process occurred through storming by hostile forces, or by a deliberate act to render the rampart 'fire proof'? My opinion, for what it's worth, is that the recurrence of this feature in Scotland would suggest the canny locals were on to something. That, or else in their households they called fires 'Oh, oh's....'. Little Angus and his 'accidents', eh?

Finavon remains a powerful enclosure - even factoring in what I think may be some significant internal quarry damage to the west (?) - further protected by a 'barbican-like' outwork to the east. A prominent internal feature is a very large cistern-cum-well. So the water supply was sorted, then. The views are excellent, particularly looking out across the coastal plains to the north, although that towards the Hill of Finavon itself isn't bad, either. Despite - or possibly even enhanced by - the wind, the vibe is great - nay, superb - thanks in no small measure to the absence of any other visitors. No doubt a perceptive visitor to the site will sense an aura combining a feeling of well being and of melancholia. But isn't that to embrace the human experience itself? I believe it is.

To reach Finavon leave the A90 as indicated (the village is signposted), head uphill and park by a wooden 4 beam gate on the right hand side of the road, just beyond a track on the left with double wooden gate. Go through the double wooden gate (past a tree with fine root structure) and head uphill to the right through a gap in the deer fence. Head towards, then past a telecom antenna and keep going...
19th June 2011ce
Edited 19th June 2011ce

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