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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Drummondreach (Stone Fort / Dun)

After crossing the Cromarty Bridge, south, into the Black Isle we headed west on the B9163, turning south on the second minor road and park once we were clear of Easter Oak Wood. Once parked we walked, west, across a field to Oak Wood.

Keep an eye on the higher trees, this marks the dun's location.

Sitting at over 18m wide the site is covered in vegetation which covers most of the remains. However, there is enough stonework to hint at what once was. Most of the stones have been taken away to build dry stane dykes. The remnants of ditches on the north and east are easily found as I discovered, by falling into them.

If clear of vegetation this might be an impressive site, however it is more likely to join the 'what if' brigade.

Visited 22/10/2022.

Cnoc Ravoch (Chambered Cairn)

Cnoc Ravoch is a 'what if' site, stunningly located looking south over the Cromarty Firth to the Black Isle, to the west, if you have binoculars you can watch Ross County in Dingwall when they play at home.

The site is largely ruined with one stone appearing to be earthfast whilst a couple of others appear to kerbs. Two boulders might also have been used as part of the site, more slabs indicate cists possibly four. However, I think it was perhaps a chamber cairn that was recycled, the area as most know is covered in this type of site.

From the west, Strathpeffer, take the A834, look for Back Road on entering Dingwall which leads straight to the Old Evanton Road. About 500 meters north east of Dingwall pull into the first gateway, plenty room to park.

Head North East, a fairly steep climb and head towards the mast. The site is just on the other side of a gate.

Despite the site's condition I found this quite an inspiring place, just enough to let you imagine what was once here. Also you could see the weather approaching from the West, the clouds looked full of rain but somehow they'd missed me.

Worth a look if only for the view.

Visited 20/10/2022

Knockfarrel (Hillfort)

For a change we took the easy option and parked at the car park at the west of the fort, a sterner challenge would present itself later so this proved to be a lucky piece of foresight.

Strathpeffer is slightly to the west, Loch Ussie to the south, beyond that a multitude of prehistory, Dingwall to the east and to the north more prehistory, especially chamber cairns and rock art.

As described by Mr G, a stunning site, one I'd been meaning to visit for a long time.

Visited 20/10/2022.

Fodderty 2 (Standing Stone / Menhir)

All looked quiet as we approached the second and more taller, standing at 2.2m, of the Fodderty Standing Stones. We walked along the field from the east stone and peered through the trees. Like its near neighbour the protective iron rail had long gone.

Sadly the large cup mark was hidden from our vantage point. As we were about to jump the fence a wedding party appeared in cars and promptly had photographs taken in front of the site.

Being a nice person I didn't do the who's that guy waving in the background sketch.

Visited 20/10/2022.

Fodderty (Standing Stones)

The iron protection bar described in 1943 has been gone a long time, the stone now appears to be in a builder's backyard.

We parked at Milnain on the A834, clambered through a wood and jumped a stream to reach fields a short distance north from the road. From there we had the easy walk to the first of the Fodderty Standing Stones.

It sits at 1.6m high and stands all by itself except for the assorted building materials.

Visited 20/10/2022.

Arcan Mains (Cairn(s))

After crossing the Orrin Bridge (A832) we walked up to Arcan Mains Farm, past the barns until a gate leading north. The remains of the cairn can be seen amongst the trees after climbing a gentle slope.

Not much remains, the bulk of the cairn has been removed, kerbs have been scattered, only a barely visible outline of the once 16m site can be seen. Still what's left is protected by a fence so no more damage can be done.

An almost site. Good location.

Visited 20/10/2022.

Muir Of Conan (Cairn(s))

We arrived on a very dreich morning to visit the non chamber cairn, chamber cairns are everywhere in this area, situated in its own wood glade, mist and trees making for an eerie enhancing atmosphere.

At Milbuie Primary School we took the minor road heading westish and took the first farm road heading west parking at some stables.

Follow the track and the cairn will appear in a clearing slightly to the north. Sitting at over 12m wide and standing at 1m tall, quite an impressive sight / site. Cairn material is moss covered. There might not be a chamber according to Canmore, and they say there are no kerbs. Several boulders, however, manage to impersonate kerbs reasonably well.

A nice site, well situated.

Visited 20/10/2022.

Gunamuil (Natural Rock Feature)

Gunamuil is a stunning natural arch on the west coast of Mingulay and in many ways is similar to the natural arch at St Kilda, both have forts situated above them.

It is like sailing into a cathedral, the sermon being given by our superb captain whose skill allowed us to skill right through.

It is at least 70 feet high and a curved 150 feet in length, you get the feeling that it is just as deep below. Echoes of numerous birds, waves, on this day gently colliding with rocks and various noises from the boat can be heard. Passengers on the boat made no sound, I think we were all astounded by nature's power and beauty.

Once out on the north side, Dun Mhiughlaigh is on your right (south), the promontory to the north is called Arnamuil.

A stunning experience!

Sailed under - 15/07/2022.

Gearum Beag (Stone Fort / Dun)

Luckily our voyage home to Barra included sailing on the west side of Mingulay which allowed us to see Gearum Beag near the southern cliffs.

It must have interesting landing on the island with prehistoric equipment, difficult with modern stuff. However, I did spy a possible landing place and way up to the top with with its grassy interior.

With Canmore's aerial photos the walls can be made out, also the way up.

To the south is Berneray and slightly to the west a small crag called Gearum Mor, which houses a Medieval Fort or chapel.

The scenery - very difficult to beat - wonderful.

Sailed past - 15/07/2022.

Dun Mhiughlaigh (Promontory Fort)

After a wee look round the school and village along with some refreshment it was time to go west.

Going west is a hard slog up hill to a point between the Carnan and Heacla Hills. Somehow on reaching this point I lost sight of the track but spying the fort I headed through knee deep grass / heather until I reached point looking down on the site.

A stunning place, luckily it would get more stunning as the fort is situated on top of Scotland's highest cliffs, the highest are at St. Kilda. The west defences were, of course, natural.

Canmore says :

The precipitous headland of Dun Mingulay, which drops 145m sheer into the sea along its NW flank and elsewhere descends in steps down to a more ragged cliff-edge about 70m high, is cut off by short length of wall. While of no great thickness, It presents five courses of a neatly-built outer face where it steps down across the slope from the crest of the outcrops 4m high facing onto the narrow neck. The interior measures about 650m from NE to SW by a maximum of 250m transversely (10ha). There is no evidence of an entrance, but the neck at the NE end represents the only possible point of access. The only features visible within the interior are three more recent animal pens, a marker cairn and a concrete mast plinth with five iron tethers.

Now I could have told you all of that, sadly for me I had to get back to the east side as my time on the island was running out. One good thing from this vantage point I spied the track, along the bottom of Carnan. One bad thing, it was the hottest day of year.

The mid point of the walk has wonderful views west and east. Looking down onto Aenir Beach, I spied A & B.

By the time I'd made it to them, the boat was ready to leave in 10 minutes. Job done!

Fantastic site, so close.

Visited 15/07/2022.

Aneir (Cairn(s))

Walking north from Hecla Point you return to path that heads to the small village on Mingulay. Situated in front of the schoolhouse, looking east to the mainland, sits the Aneir cairn.

Once again the islanders have treated the site with respect and left it alone. It still stands at just over 5m wide / 0.8m tall and is surrounded by short grass.

A little look round the village, school and beach then it would be time for a walk over to the west side of the island.

Visited 15/07/2022.

Hecla Point (Cairn(s))

After watching an old STV programme featuring the legendary walker and whisky drinker, Tom Weir, I'd always wanted to visit Mingulay. So the opportunity arose and we found ourselves on a boat, having boarded at Castlebay (on Barra), heading towards the island with a history, like a lot of these islands, very similar to St. Kilda.

There is no landing place or pier on Mingulay, the boat gets close to rocks to the south of Aenir Bay, someone pulls you ashore or you jump.

The small burial cairn is a short walk south through some tough heather.

In amongst the grass and heather the 6m wide site can be seen, sitting no more than 0.5m tall. Some kerbs remain steadfast, and perhaps there is a hint of a cist. Like Branigan suggests islanders appear to have treated the site with respect and left it alone.

Perhaps not the most stunning site I've ever seen, the views are some of the best I've ever seen.

Visited 15/07/2022

Bay Hirivagh (Stone Fort / Dun)

Finding this site was relatively easily as we were holidaying in Bruernish.

Just before the small village of Northbay, on Barra's east side, there is a signpost indicating Bruernish. Take this and head east until a cattle grid at Boggach. Park here and jump the fence heading north, the east of the very small sea loch. I walked up the west side of fence, not much room but enough. In front, a headland will be seen, and 70m north of that is the dun.

The 70m is an easy guess as the causeway is that length, on my visit submerged. However, the dun can be easily viewed and some some stonework remains in place. Elsewhere vegetation is taking over or walls have fallen.

Lovely views, and the sea was calm.

Visited 14/07/2022

Vatersay (Chambered Cairn)

From the dun/broch at Dun Chaolais, I walked along the track on the north side of Bagh Chornaig, jumped over a few boggy bits and walked almost straight to the chamber cairn.

Bizarrely used as a hen house many years ago the oval shaped cairn has tremendous views of stunning seascapes, and going by the eagle that flew past the chickens did well to be out of view.

Not many of the stones remain, the main passage remains, the chamber is in a bad way and has had a variety of uses including the aforementioned chickens suggest.

Most of the cairn material has been removed, however the grassy areas reveal the width and oval shape being approximately 12m by 10m, not much height, 0.6m.

A lovely site with lovely views.

Visited 14/07/2022.

Dun A' Chaolais (Broch)

We parked in a small car park at the west end of Bagh Chornaig, walked west along the road then uphill to the north west to reach this impressive site.

There is plenty of visible wall built wall to see, there is plenty of fallen stonework to see as well. Like all of these things if there was time, the money, the people etc to give this place a gentle clean up would a Clachtoll type site might appear. Hard to tell but the aerial photographs suggest that something once stood here that was impressive, with a wee clean-up it could be impressive again.

Superb site, nearby a few of these odd semi circular sites which must be something but my friend Brannigan doesn't exactly give good co-ordinates for many of them.

Visited 14/07/2022.

Vatersay (Stone Fort / Dun)

You can't really miss the Dun on Vatersay once near the village and cafe, it rather obvious. We approached from the south.

Although very ruinous there remains a few remnants of the defences. The west defence is natural whilst foundation stones reveal the shape of the site in the north, east and south.

Once again spectacular all round views.

Another beautiful site.

Visited 14/07/2022

Bhatarsaigh (Stone Setting)

Another one of these confusing stone settings worthy of mention. From the nearby cairn keep walking north towards the dun. To the west of the main path is this possible four poster, with an added boulder to confuse matters.

Whatever it is, it is impressively sited, with stunning views north. Like T, I discovered a load of these sites, Brannigan's book is good but doesn't help in finding the sites. Still I'm pretty sure I'll be back and I'll take his book next time.

Beautiful site.

Visited 14/07/2022.

South Vatersay (Cairn(s))

Walking north from Cuithe Heillanish you'll see loads of peculiar stones and shapes. One of the more definite is this 6m x 1m cairn, Brannigan counted 9 kerbs, I counted 13.

Nice site, great views north towards Castlebay and the hills beyond on Barra.

Visited 14/07/2022.

Cuithe Heillanish (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Ignoring the walk on the notice board we went via Bienn Chuidir and then headed west in an attempt to find standing stones that proved invisible. Undaunted we climbed over the east side of Beinn Ruilibreac to walk into a small valley then headed south. By this time direction posts had come into view, also into view on a small ridge appeared the standing stone, Cuithe Heillanish.

The stone stands at 1.7m high having great views to the islands south of Vatersay. An enclosure or dry stane dyke seems to have included the stone.

Fine looking stone!

Visited 14/07/2022.

Loch Nic Ruaidhe (Stone Fort / Dun)

Loch Nic Ruaidhe has been near the top of the places to visit list for a long long time. From Nam Bodach I headed back up to my parking place and then headed west. This proved be a slog through fairly boggy ground with dry parts every now then. Despite the fairly short distance it is an exhausting walk, it is all worth while when you reach the shores of Loch Nic Ruaidhe.

The dun is in front, despite the clouds the weather had held, it was a glorious sunny evening. Better still, the walk round the north of the loch proved to be dry. Remaining traces of built wall can be best seen on the west side, the rest has fallen but indicates that an impressive wall was here at some stage.

From my position on the north bank I could see the boulders mentioned by Canmore that could indicate a causeway. A causeway that looks like it was never completed.

Looking west the hills of Bhirisig and Corra Bhienn behind which are some of Barra's best prehistoric sites.

Making my way back I chose an alternative route nearer the River Ob, this proved equally boggy, worse was to follow as I fell down one of these holes which seem to be only wide enough for one person. A nasty scare when you end up waste deep in an ancient bog. A slow trudge back to the car where fortunately I had dry boots and clothes.

Still, a great site, stunning scenery.

Visited 13/07/2022.
Showing 1-20 of 1,468 fieldnotes. Most recent first | Next 20
Still doing the music, following that team and getting lost in the hills! (Some Simple Minds, Glasvegas, Athlete, George Harrison, Empire Of The Sun, Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Nazareth, The Avalanches, Public Service Broadcasting on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

Turriff, Aberdeenshire

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