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

The Strontoiller Group


As the weather and season favoured we came amongst pleasant corn fields on the farm of Sron- t-Soillear. [..] Before coming to the house a great circle was seen made of boulder stones, as all those of this district are. The stones are doubled irregularly on the west side. In Aberdeen and Kincardine the custom is to lay a great stone on the southerly side. [..] This circle, which remains entire, is 60 feet in diameter, a very favourite size, and one that seems to have been chosen for a reason. We saw it lonely among hay, itself enough to give interest to the whole valley even had the sun been absent.

A couple of fields off, after passing along graceful mounds and good grass, was seen Diarmid's pillar (Clach Dhiarmaid or Carrach Dhiarmaid). And now we were in the very midst of a land of legends. No story is more persistently told than the story of Diarmid; no story has the places connected with every transaction more minutely give; but, unfortunately, some half dozen places claim the originals. [..]

[.. When Diarmid] was dying of his wound and nothing but fresh water could help him, Fingal pretended to bring some, but always spilt it, and Diarmid died. The account we got at Lochnell was that the magic water must be brought in the hands of the most beautiful women, to make the cure certain; but the ladies could not manage to bring any - the way was long and rough and the day was hot, so that before they arrived their hands were empty.

[..] Here at Lochnell is a pillar called after him and a grave beside it. The pillar is about 12 feet high, rough, and seems as if squared artificially. The grave or small stone circle has twelve stones - boulders. None of the farmers cared much for Diarmid, since all were strangers [newcomers]; but when some persons lately were looking for a stone kist in this place which is called his grave, a poor woman going by said, in great anxiety, "Oh, oh, they are lifting Diarmid." He is not forgotten yet.

There are many names here connected with the great boar hunt [..] the farm next the pillar is Tor an Tuirc - the boar's hill. A shepherd coming down the hill and asking for sheep was told in our hearing to take them up Ben Gulbain; so here is the classic name in common use. Up this hill is a well called Tobair nam bas toll - the well of the empty palms. This is a memory of the hands coming down dry to poor Diarmid. On the slope is Gleann nam Fuath - the glen of spirits. Fuath, in the singular, also means hate or spite, and Gleann na Fuath would be the glen of spite, referring to Finn's conduct here: his proverbial nobleness did not shine at the death of Diarmid.

[..] It was thought well to walk up from the more interesting pillar of Diarmid to a knoll on the side of the hill, a place called Cleidh-na-h-annait. It is an old burial ground, walled round, and remarkable for having two small cairns in it, as if it were a meeting of heathen and Christian habits [..].
From 'Loch Etive and the Sons of Uisnach' by Robert Angus Smith (1879).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
31st October 2010ce

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