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Chambered Cairn

<b>Blasthill</b>Posted by greywetherImage © greywether
Nearest Town:Campbeltown (12km NNW)
OS Ref (GB):   NR720093 / Sheet: 68
Latitude:55° 19' 28.72" N
Longitude:   5° 35' 40.22" W

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<b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by greywether <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by greywether <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by greywether <b>Blasthill</b>Posted by greywether


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Located below and to the north west of the summit of Creagach Leac - the almost entirely grassed-over Bronze Age cairn rather contradicting the 'craggy, slabby' references inherent in the name - this excellent chambered cairn is, to my mind, the finest of Kintyre's ancient monuments... although I guess another chambered cairn hidden away in forestry a little to the north at Greenland runs it damn close. Hey, even the sardonic Greywether rated what is still to be found here gracing the rough pasture separating the farms of Blasthill and Macharioch.

I approach from the village of Southend, the hill rising above to the north bearing the tell-tale contours of Iron Age earthworks to off-set the fact that the later settlement is not, in actual fact, the 'south end' of anything, let alone Kintyre... yeah, that accolade, of course, belongs to the (in)famous Mull a little to the approx south-west. Chances are you might have heard of it referenced by another of the area's ancient relics? Anyway, crossing the Conieglen Water at Mill Park I ignore the immediate left hand turn to follow the minor road past Blasthill Farm (on the left) and, in the interests of symmetry, Kilbride (on the right). It is currently just about possible to park - without causing offence - in the entrance to the driveway of an unidentified house a little beyond 'Suilven'. Needless to say that's not the celebrated mountain... or else I'd suggest you dispose of that Satnav in the nearest litter bin forthwith. Hey, do it anyway. Before it becomes self aware.

As Greywether notes the track opposite the aforementioned Kilbride is key here with a field gate, fastened with nothing but ubiquitous rope, encouraging even the somewhat reticent Englishman to enter. I head for the far (northern) shoulder of Creagach Leac, encountering a pretty worthy area of bog upon abandoning the sanctuary of the track, wetland enlivened by the vibrant hues of the occupying gorse. This formidable natural barrier duly breeched, the way lies open to the fabulous chambered cairn located, unseen, beyond.

To be fair there isn't an excessive volume of 'cairn' material to be found here. No soaring, enigmatic vertical profile; rather the well preserved/restored (?) orthostats and internal features of a Clyde-type chambered long cairn. Arguably the most impressive component is the crescent fa├žade at the eastern end of the monument emphasising the entrance to the axial chamber. As you'd expect with such a cairn there is also a lateral chamber, this within the southern flank and possibly sited to focus upon the summit of Creagach Leac since the northern flank, overlooking the fertile fields bordering the Corachan Burn, would've otherwise seemed a more natural choice to me? In addition, more-or-less the entire footprint of the cairn is defined by the remains of a peristalith. OK, none of the stones are that large, but substantiality has numerous measures, so to speak. According to Audrey Henshall (1972) this long cairn is "about 72ft overall, with cairn material remaining to a depth of only about 3ft... The stones are irregular in shape and pointed, the tallest, 3ft high above the turf being the north portal."

Blasthill is orientated approx east/west which, given the nature of the landscape, would appear very deliberate policy on behalf of its erectors. Let's just say that otherwise it wouldn't make much sense.... not with a glorious vista in the general direction of the Mull of Kintyre there for the taking to the west and the aforementioned aerial view - looking across Corachan Burn to distant hills - to the north. OK, the low mass of Creagach Leac (413ft) obscures any far-reaching outlook to the south, but east still wouldn't have been my choice upon aesthetic grounds. My assumption is therefore that other factors held sway back then.

Whatever the reasoning, the monument is a fine place to hang out for a few hours in the sun before finally moving on to the Bronze Age summit looming insistently above.
6th August 2015ce
Edited 8th August 2015ce

This Clyde cairn is the nearest Scottish chambered cairn to Ireland (just over 20 miles as the crow flies) and Ireland is visible from the cairn (but not in the direction of its orientation). So it may not be surprising that it bears some resemblance to its Irish cousin the court cairn.

It has a deeply crescentic facade which doesn't quite reach the long edges of the cairn - themselves lined with visible edging stones. However, to maintain its Clyde credentials, it has a lateral chamber in addition to the axial chamber.

The stones are quite low (maximum 0.7m) but it's still an impressive site.

Access. Ask permission at Macharioch Farm not Blasthill. Access is from a track opposite Kilbride (NR718088).

Visited 25 September 2004
greywether Posted by greywether
12th October 2004ce
Edited 12th October 2004ce