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

Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Balnacraig (Chambered Cairn)

Like Clettraval in North Uist and its near neighbours at Taigh Talamhanta and Aird Veenish on Barra, Balnacraig appears to have been a multi purpose site that originated with its chamber cairn.

All sorts of things have happened here with later peoples recycling the stones meaning not much remains of the original cairn apart from the upright slabs.

The Ts had the sunny weather, we had the fog and cloud, a completely different atmosphere which appeared to add to the age of the site. All was very quiet except for the fly past of a sea eagle.

We parked at the end of the Craigston / Baile Na Creige road, just to the north of Borve, then headed east along the track until it's end, the Hebridean Way heads towards Dun Bharpa but we headed east through a boggy area towards Balnacraig, which can be seen from the tracks end.

Visited 11/07/2022.

Dun Na Cille (Stone Fort / Dun)

Graveyards seem to hold numerous prehistoric monuments, the wall that surrounds it is probably made from stones from the invisible cairn at nearby Bearnasdale, slightly east, and the dun/broch that once stood here.

The site is situated in the south east part of cemetery, with all the crosses and headstones it resembles an Empire Of The Sun video. Nothing much remains except a low mound and some large base boulders that surround it. The entrance perhaps being in the east.

From the standing stone at Borve I headed west towards the Atlantic, jump the gate, head south following the eastern wall which will lead straight to the remains of the site.

One thing can't be disputed, the view east is stunning, I'd get a closer view very soon.

Visited 10/07/2022.

Borgh (Standing Stones)

From Dun Cuier I made my way back down to the A888 and walked south to Borve. The remaining standing stone is easily spotted from the road so I jumped the fence and went for a look.

The stone that still stands, at a fairly jaunty angel, is almost 1.7m in length. The other is resting, a finely shaped stone, having a length of almost 3m.

Sadly you can imagine sand eventually covering the site, like a nearby cairn and some cairns that seem to have vanished.

Lovely setting.

Visited 10/07/2022.

Sligeanach (Chambered Cairn)

Slightly to the north of the 1 up and 1 down standing stone site at Borve is a grass covered mound described as a chamber cairn.

Only 4 stones can be seen, erosion or animal damage is on the north side which means there isn't much to see.

However, if you look to the east especially if you follow the Craigston road, some of Barras best sites will be found. To the west is the remains of Dun Cille.

Lovely location, it would be nice if the site was excavated.

Visited 10/07/2022.

Dun Cuier (Broch)

Agree with the Ts that this is the easiest of the duns/brochs to get to, except for the completely ruined Dun Cille to the south, and one of the best preserved.

After a morning hiking around sites north, I came over to the west coast to start the afternoon's 'traipsin aboot'.

I parked on the minor road at Allathasdal, thru the gae to the east, then head north jumping the Abhainn Mhuileann Domhaill, river for a dull mill.

Head north/north east and the site will quickly come into view. Superb all round views, South Uist can be seen in the north.

Beautiful place to visit and Canmore provide us with brilliant aerial photography which can be seen in the links section.

A must visit!

Visited 10/07/2022.

Aird Veenish (Cairn(s))

Parking can be found just after the cattle grid on the Ard Mhidhinis road. The head back west, jump the ditch, climb up, jump the fence keep heading up and look for a large green patch with scattered stones.

Much like Talamhanta and Balnacraig, I'd see the next day, parts of the monument are hard to decipher. I saw a few stones standing in the place someone thought was a stone circle, the cairn at NF70310373 looks like it has vanished but there are remnants at NF70290377. At this point I agree with one of Canmore's contributors who thought the site was a long cairn. I would also add that it has been severely trashed.

Various walls, enclosures have been been built, but several kerbs remain in the north east, some of the height is retained in the north but towards the south it tapers to nothing except green grass.

Walls have also been built and clearly some kind of 'but and ben' also. Just when you're about to give up something catches the eye. A cist, south, east and west slabs remain in place, an even harder to spot cist is mentioned by Canmore, after a good look the upright slabs are found, it is a cist but stones would have to be removed to give a clearer picture, a third cist couldn't be found.

Superb views east, on a clear day the Cuillins (Skye) and the mainland, to the north and south. Beinn Eireabhal to the west.

Not visually a great site, an interesting site deserving of a dig perhaps.

Visited 10/07/2022

Suiachan (Cairn(s))

Now Barra has lots of prehistoric sites, some magnificent, some badly damaged but all interesting. Some I think have been discovered by people who'd spent to long in Castlebay's excellent pubs. On this occasion the site was found - a nice little kerb cairn.

We parked at Barra airport, we were lucky enough to see a flight leave. Walk south on the minor road until gate facing west, take this as far as it goes then south west into valley, then head straight west. Walk towards the small promontory. A house stood here, basically it has been washed away.

The cairn is oval shaped and measures 5m by 3m, kerb almost surrounds the side, it can be clearly seen on the west and south.

A nice wee site which I'd see a few days later when walking to Dun Chlif.

Visited 10/07/2022.

Dun Sgurabhal (Stone Fort / Dun)

We parked just the north of the dun at Sgurabhal near a series of pens and built up shore line. A and B approached from East and I climbed up on the North West.

It was reasonably cloudy and luckily hardly any wind, it easy to imagine the full lash of an Atlantic wind, we'd find the Atlantic wind a few days later.

Traces of the gallery can be seen north east and west, inside the site is the bulk of the fallen stones. The outer wall has all but gone probably made into dykes. A and B found the most likely entrance in the east.

Stunning views to South Uist, Fuday, Eriskay and the rest of Barra.

A nice way to start the day.

Visited 10/07/2022.

Dalnaneun Farm, Loch Nell (Chambered Cairn)

From the crannog I headed west, near the first passing place (there is a submerged crannog just to the north) there is a gate that leads north west straight to the chamber cairn, on this occasion surprisingly dry ground. The massive capstone can be seen from the road.

With the night getting darker, a mist was slowly appearing and the whole atmosphere was beginning to change, Loch Nell's water turning grey giving an another shade. Mr G mentions in his notes that colour plays a big part here, he's right, on this occasion it was the reduction in colour as dusk falls.

What appeared to be a cist, perhaps the cist 2m from the chamber?, caught my eye, so did the Serpent Mound and another couple of cairns. However they will be visited next time.

It would be a long trudge /squelch back to the car, I'd completely forgotten that was miles away. However, that was a good thing as I saw the sites I'd visited earlier. I also saw some Highland Coos and their friends who still be appeared to be laughing!

Visited 08/07/2022.

Dalineun Isle (Crannog)

After the helpful push into a boggy stream, the two 'other' nearby cairns would have to wait another day plus time was pushing on and I wanted to get the nearby chamber cairn. A swampy trudge back, north east, to the road which I followed straight north until the crannog came into view. Easily seen from the road and further west at a passing place (near a submerged crannog). Also easily viewed from the chamber cairn.

It is well covered in trees and is 30m wide which is about the same distance as it is from the shore.

Visited 08/07/2022.

Cleigh 1 & 2 (Cairn(s))

From the cairn at Kilmore House I headed north following the minor road past the junction to head towards Loch Nell. About 500 meters from the junction there is a gate, jump this and head south west. After having avoiding all sorts of bog to earlier sites, this time it was unavoidable, also add in a fence or two and a couple of wee burns. However a way was found and I remained reasonably dry.

NM 8811 2607

The largest of the two cairns still sits at over 31m wide and in some parts over 1m tall. Sadly the centre of the cairn has been mostly houked or quarried away, field clearence has been dumped on its perimeter and any discoveries found in a cist long since lost. All that remains of the cist are two slabs.

With me looking around around I became the centre of attraction for some young cows including the Highland variety. They had fun nudging me around, including a few short metres to the north west.

NM 8809 2609

Complete with my ever growing entourage I walked the few metes to the second cairn. Disagreeing with Canmore, I spy at least 1 kerb still in place and another 2 can be felt beneath the grass. Cairn material can be seen on top. Sitting at over 7m and approaching 1m tall it hasn't taken the same punishment as its nearby friend.

Speaking of friends, the cows especially one small highland cow had obviously taken a liking to nudging me around. Great fun for them and for me, except the horns which gave reason for concern.

There are two more cairns nearby but ground to them was virtually a shallow loch such was the rain the Oban area's recent weather, so I decided to climb the fence and head back to the minor road. However my attempts to stay 'reasonably' dry were thwarted by a head butt to the backside by the pictured highland cow. This made sure I landed on the other side far quicker than intended and also ensured I lost my footing to basically run straight into a small burn - knee deep.

With that I splodged back to the road, emptied the boots and rinsed the socks to continue the walk to Loch Nell. I'm sure I heard laughing cows in the distance 1-0 to them.

Visited 08/07/2022.

Kilmore House (Cairn(s))

From the Invercairn Cairn I kept heading west on a remarkably free of traffic road considering the amount of new builds.

This cairn is also reasonably close to the road on the west side. Like the other nearby cairns it has seen a lot of damage but still retains some of of its shape. Stonework can be seen and perhaps 3 or 4 kerbs remain in place, on top of the cairn stones are scattered but it appears to have escaped serious houk damage to the centre. A lovely site that sits at almost 14m wide / 1.3m tall.

I liked this cairn, it had been cloudy, all sorts of weather had been passing either side but here it became brighter. I remained determined to reach Loch Nell during daylight, somehow I managed to miss a nearby cairn, but like the fort I'll visit next time.

Visited 08/07/2022.

Invercairn (Cairn(s))

The cairn near Invercairn has been badly damaged. A wall, a fence and tree have been plonked on top and much of the south side has been removed. It must have been a huge site and still measures at almost 27m wide / 3m + high.

Having found a nice place to park at Dalnacabaig I kept walking, following the road to the west. The site is easily spotted from the road, the tree providing a nice indicator.

Visited 08/07/2022.

Dalnacabaig (Cairn(s))

Head west on the minor road from Dun Iadain until shortly after Dalnacabaig, fortunately a boat was parked in a parking area that had plenty of room. For me a wee jump over the fence, for shorter legs there is a gate.

It is an oval shaped cairn sitting at 20m by 18m and still stands at almost 2.5m. Grass now covers the bulk of the cairn but most of the large kerbs have been removed, some impressive stones still remain giving an idea of what was once here. Cairn material can be seen dotted around the top of the site. The nearby Feochan Burn plays an important role here, many prehistoric sites line its banks.

Lovely site!

Visited 08/07/2022.

Dun Iadain (Hillfort)

They chose well for this site as steep climbs surround the fort which also has good all round views. Situated near the minor road that follows Glen Feachan, the fort is can be accessed from both east and west. I approached from the west via a gate near to sharp corner on the road.

The entrance to the fort can be seen from the start of the climb being on the east, two ramparts can clearly be seen, aim for them, underfoot conditions are good. It measures at 58m by 20m being mostly turf covered. Despite decent ramparts near the entrance a lot of stone has been taken and used in nearby dykes, others have fallen to the bottom of the hill near the south section.

A very good site, well worth a visit.

Visited 08/07/2022.

Ariogan (Cairn(s))

We're lucky to have any remains of the cairn at Ariogan considering its location is next to the A816 immediately to its east.

Some stonework does remain but most of the stones can be found in nearby dry stane dykes. Sitting at almost 5m wide and no more than 0.5m high it leads the way to more prehistoric sites to the south east of Oban.

Park at the entrance to what looks like a road to a quarry, plenty room, cross the road to the west, jump the fence and the cairn sits on the top of the wee hill.

Visited 08/07/2022.

Denwood (Artificial Mound)

Head up, leaving the A93, to the Crathes Castle car parks and follow the track heading south east, at that time fallen trees from Arwen etc were still strewn everywhere but gradually getting cleared.

Still the track follows Denwood Belt which connects the Ley and Baldarroch Woods, with mound on the south flank. Sitting at 15m by 10m it is 3m high and oval shaped. Plenty of stones can be seen all round some almost suggesting a kerb. There has been a lot going on at Crathes, ancient clocks, cairns and a few mounds.

Interesting area.

Visited 29/03/2022

Cnoc Udais (Cairn(s))

On a day of stunning sites, Cnoc Udais proved to be equally stunning.

From Breakachy I re-joined the A831, headed north to Beauly on the A862 until I reached the centre of Muir Of Ord where I headed north west on the A832 until Ord Distillery. From there follow the minor road west until Auchmore Farm is signposted. Go the end of this road, there is plenty room to park but ask permission first.

The storms of 2021 have destroyed most of the Auchmore Wood, forestry work continued with men and machine removing the fallen trees.

Luckily the track that continues west from the farm has not been affected, keep going past a mast, keep heading uphill until a track heads south. This track will lead to another, a partially tarred track which heads east to the top of the hill, tarred because of the three masts. All of which makes it easier to reach the cairn.

The cairn is impressive, it has a large footprint, it also stands at 15m wide and is almost 2m tall. Stunning all round views and also, on this day, stunning views north west, a blizzard heading straight my way.

By the time I'd reached Auchmore Wood, various types of light highlighted the extent of the damage to the wood. The forestry people were going to work well into the night, they would be doing that all over Scotland for a lot of nights. By the time I'd reached the car the snow had arrived making driving along the narrow minor road treacherous until I reached the Muir Of Ord.

Stunning site, stunning day.

Visited 02/01/2022.

Dun Mor (Breakachy) (Stone Fort / Dun)

Dun Mor, near Breakachy, has to be one of the most spectacular sites I've ever visited, the views are breathtaking, the amount of stonework verging on the unbelievable.

From Dun Chliabhain I headed back down to the A831 and headed south west and took the first minor road heading north west at Teanassie to eventually park, after asking permission, at Cruenassie.

Take the track to Breakachy Farm, keep heading over the small stream, past the old house still going north. By this time any type of track has gone and underfoot conditions are reasonable if conditions are dry. Luckily for me it remained fairly dry despite the occasional flurry of snow.

The fort / dun comes into view over a small ridge, it is a stunning sight, in the sunlight the rocks glisten. Almost two years previous I'd seen, along with A & B, the fort from over the valley at the Breackachy cairn. It was impressive from there, it is incredible close-up. Like back then and on the day of this visit the Breakachy Burn was in full flow. At the bottom of site there is a gate, part of the deer fence, which can be climbed through.

The crag on which the fort is built might be isolated but it isn't alone as there are plenty of prehistoric sites nearby to keep it company.

The overall measurement is 25m by 16m making it oval shaped, the walls are over 5m wide with the entrance on the south east which I clambered over as the walls have fallen in. To the south of the crag there is another line of defence which extends the fort to some 40m in width.

Steep sides to north and east, cliff face on the west complete the defences.

After several walks around it was time to head back to the warmth of the car and a wee trip to Cnoc Udais.

One of the best sites I've seen.

Visited 02/01/2022.

Dun Chliabhain (Stone Fort / Dun)

After good look at the cairn at Cnoc Na Moine I headed back to the forestry track by the way I arrived. Head north on the track until the deer gate, go through and keep your eyes on the deer fence to the west for a small gap which can be easily climbed through. Keep heading west on a path of sorts until the trees end. In front will be Dun Chliabhain.

Despite being very chilly and with an occasional snow flurry it was a glorious day. It is an easy climb heading west to the impressive site.

Defences to the north include a cliff, part of the stone wall has fallen over the side. The wall in the east, home to the entrance, and south is impressive being well over 3.5 meters wide, there is another wall to south beneath the small hill, this appears to be an unfinished defence, tapering out towards the east. Western defences consist of a lower wall with the higher wall reducing in size towards the north.

Stunning views to the north west of snow covered mountains, clear vision to the forts to the south and to the east there is the Beauly Firth. These hills are covered in prehistoric sites, these sites are also in some of Scotland's best scenery.

Lovely site.

Visited 02/01/2022.
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