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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Torran Ban (Hillfort)

Torran Ban is a beautifully located fort, resting in the neuk between the hills of Tom Mor (north) and Clais Gharbh (east) next to Ballinlagg Wood.

Plenty of parking just before the farm at Ballinlagg near a track that veers east giving wonderful views south to the Cairngorms.

As you arrive at the fort watch for the sign that puts occupation possibly starting at the late Bronze Age. Keep following the track until a gate is found, a track of sorts leads to the forts front door. No defences surround the top of the fort which is an empty 44m wide, natural defences north and east are steep. Defences that remain are to the south and west with fairly wide ramparts that taper away as they reach their outer edges.

I loved this place, completely unexpected and when you see it an obvious place for a fort. Superb!

Visited 31/10/2019.

Tom an Uird Wood (Cairn(s))

Head west and uphill from Balnallan cairn and you'll come across another deer fence, you will also come across an unrecorded cairn. It was also had the first hint of winter with a small sprinkling of snow.

The cairn sits at 4m high and is 0.5m high, some kerbs remain and the centre has been houked. Possible evidence of a cist remain, sadly its stones have been removed probably to be used as small lintels.

A nice small cairn and a report sent to Canmore.

Visited 31/10/2019.

Balnallan (Cairn(s))

Just to the west of the Mains of Dalvey, on Speyside (A95), there is a minor road heading south. Take it and pull in just as the west side of the road becomes treeless. At the south end of the field there is gate, cross the field and head up the short but steep climb to the west. Head slightly south, at the top, until a place is reached where the deer fence ends. Cross the field heading north west to another gate and simply follow the fence south for a few metres until you walk straight into the cairn.

Discovered in 1989, the cairn is apparently undisturbed being 10m wide and over 1m high. Some kerbs remain on the south side. After a wee look round I ventured uphill and west for a short distance to discover the remnants of an unrecorded cairn.

A beautiful place to start the day.

Visited 31/10/2019.

Hill Of Cally (Cairn(s))

The last site of a day that consisted of long walks and beautiful scenery. Beautiful site cannot be applied to the Hill Of Cally, despite stunning views it is a tragedy of huge proportions, in short a disgrace. It would be better, in my opinion, to completely remove the site than leave it like this :-(

The cause of this clear, it is the meeting place of four fences and a gate. A track has been ploughed through the eastern half, the north west quarter has been flattened but kerbs still stand, this in turn is a bog and cows trample all over the remaining kerbs. Only in the south west does the cairn retain some of its original size, at least ten kerbs remain in place, almost a miracle. Sadly even here is a shambles with rusting gates thrown on top. Out of the 45 kerbs mentioned in Canmore I counted 22, the cist cover seems to be still there but the other kerbs have been flung over the fence to the east. The one thing the carnage couldn't destroy was the view, especially to the south east to the Lomonds in Fife.

It all started well, parking just to the north (about 1 mile) of the Bridge of Cally to have wee walk through some barns before meeting the Old Military Road. When I reached the second wood I headed west and uphill, few fences to jump but nothing too difficult.

Informed Canmore, but I don't think they can do much.

Sad end to a lovely day.


White Hillocks (Cairn(s))

Just west of the Parkneuk Stone Circle I pulled into a very large passing place. Luckily just a few yards down the road there is a gate which I promptly climbed and headed west and uphill. As the track ends it becomes more of a fire break which leads straight to the White Hillocks or Heatheryhaugh cairn.

Almost hidden from view the small cairn nestles in the west side of a junction in the forest. It is now turf covered keeping the stones in the 7m wide site hidden from view, the site stands at 0.4m tall.

I like wooded sites, they tend to be peaceful and sometimes not having a view is a good thing, you can just appreciate the site itself.

Nice place.


Hill Of Alyth (Cairn(s))

At over 17m wide and almost 1m tall this must have been an impressive site going by the size of the kerbs, six of which still remain in place. The site is certainly impressively located with magnificent views south and west. Several displaced kerb boulders have been scarred by ploughing. The upright slab in the middle of the cairn was found by tripping over it.

Leave the Happy Hillock, head south east (downhill) and go the roads end, I parked at the junction. There are paths leading uphill which lead straight to the site. However, be careful, there are many paths. One leads up the side of a quarry, one is very steep, the correct one heads west swinging round the steep / quarry obstacles.

Lovely site!

Visited 22/10/2019.

Happy Hillock (Cairn(s))

After visiting Drumderg, head south east, downhill, on the minor road until just beyond Tullymurdoch Farm. Look west at this point and the cairn will be spotted, an easy walk with just one fence to jump.

At one time this was a very large site being over 21m in width, now it is surrounded by an equally ruinous dry steen dyke. A large slab in the middle of the cairn maybe all that remains of the rumoured three cists. Some cairn material still pokes thru and what might kerbs might well be field clearance.

Still after seeing some of sites on this days hike, the Happy Hillock is aptly named.

Visited 22/10/2019.

Rannagulzion (Cairn(s))

The cairn at Rannagulzion is a short walk east from the standing stone at Drumderg. Follow the track, head south east at the crossroads into the heather.

Turf covers the site but one or two bits of cairn material poke through. It sits at nearly 7m wide being 0.5 tall.

Sadly the cairn at NO 1747 5494 could not be found.

Visited 22/10/2019.

Drumderg (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Head south on the minor road from Cairn Gleamnach and you'll reach the the Drumderg Wind Farm. I parked at the large area near the locked gates. It says danger to walkers, I ignored this thinking it highly unlikely a turbine would land on my head.

The standing stone is about a 400m walk from the road and is to the north side of the track. It is impressive, well shaped and stands at 2m tall. Well positioned it has fantastic views, the Lomonds (in Fife) to the south, west to Gleamnach, east to the Angus hills and north to Glenshee.


Visited 22/10/2019.

Cairn Gleamnach (Cairn(s))

Cairn Gleamnach is an almost unbelievable site, almost 20m wide, in some parts 1m tall, it has been quarried and it has been houked. I counted 64 kerbs, 40 of which were earthfast in kerb that surrounds the entire site except for the entrance for the houking and quarrying.

Take the minor road heading south east from the A93 heading south from the B950 junction. After a long straight, I pulled in at a small wood near the Hill Of Kingseat, the site is a short walk of 100m behind.

Tremendous site!

Visited 22/10/2019.

Mains Of Persie (Cairn(s))

Set amongst ruined hut circles and numerous clearance cairns, the Mains of Persie cairn is quite an impressive site.

It stands at 13m wide, being 0.5m tall. Intermittent kerbs surround the site especially on the south and east were at least 10 stones are still earthfast.

I parked about a 1/2 mile north of Persie House on the A93s western side at the entrance to a field. The cairn is up the hill which, on the 22nd, was reasonably dry until the wood that obscures the site. Walking to the south of the wood is quite a boggy affair until swinging north west were being uphill it becomes drier.

Visited 22/10/2019.

Pobuill Fhinn (Stone Circle)

The last stop on this trip was Pobuill Fhinn, a place I last visited when playing gigs at Lochmaddy and Lochboisdale many years ago.

Its a beautiful oval shaped site and there's no need for me to add anything else.

However if looking for Fionns Grave, you'll struggle as it is well covered in heather which is perhaps a good thing as it can observe the beautiful view looking south undisturbed.

With that, it was back to Lochmaddy to catch a ferry.

Visited 30/7/2019.

Eilean A'Ghallain (Stone Fort / Dun)

An attempt to walk to the dun proved futile as a few steps from the road, heading west, led to 'that sinking feeling, as wellington boots began to fill with water. Incessant rain had made the grass look greener it also had made sure the marsh was working well, so I beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the road.

Go to the end of road, instead of turning east to Dun Thomaidh, keep going. The dun is to the west, a further dun further west will have to wait till he next time.

Apparently a causeway was on the east side as described by Beveridge, no chance of looking for that.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Cleitreabhal A Tuath (Chambered Cairn)

A final trek up to Clettraval led to an unexpected discovery of the remains of another chamber cairn, a conversation with our new found friends at Berneray helped.

About 300m short of the view point look west and downhill, the site can be clearly seen. Just beyond is the cairn at Corary.

Being 20m wide and 4m tall, several huts presumably shooting butts have been made. However on the south side at least 5 kerbs remain providing evidence of the cairns existance.

On a really clear day St. Kilda can be seen from here, makes you wonder if that was the reason for its positioning.

Visited 29/7/2019

Vallay Strand (Cairn(s))

Not to much to see at this heather and turf covered cairn which sits at 12m by 6m by at least 0.5m high. The fence is still just the south east, in area that is a maze of fences.

A few bits of cairn material can be seen and if you tap your foot round the edge of the site you will find some kerbs.

Worth seeing if visiting the nearby chamber cairn.

Visited 29/7/2019.

Geirisclett chambered cairn

Two days previous I'd driven past some of the fields and probably spied some of the Highland Cattle that Postie had spied during an earlier visit so we decided not to investigate from the direct south. Instead we parked near some masts just to the north of Loch Fada, south west of the site.

The weather had become summery and the ground heathery but dry plus we won medals at jumping and climbing fences, the dog, however, was not impressed. No cattle of any kind was seen but we found and stood in plenty of evidence that they had been moved very recently.

Geirisclett is as close to the sea as you can get being at the high water mark. The chamber is in superb condition with what looks a fallen standing or entrance stone. Part of the cairn remains to the west, most of the eastern side has given way to erosion. Beveridge had made efforts to protect the site by clearing the chamber and placing sill stones to prevent further damage, with some success.

Across on Vallay Island, Beveridge's house can easily be seen, as can the remarkable colour of the sea which was doing a good job of impersonating Luskentyre in Harris.

Superb site, a privilege to see such a place.

Visited 29/7/2019.

Dun Mor, Baleshare (Stone Fort / Dun)

The entrance to this dun, in my opinion, is in the north east as a line of turf covered stones, not the wall, lead to dun. They also lead to the part of the dun which is still built. The small hillock is about 20m wide with the site sitting on top being 10m wide. As usual, someone thought it a good place to build a dry stone dyke.

From Dun A Dise head back along the minor road taking the first road south west, follow the road as it veers north then take the road the heads west and follow it until it ends. In front of the farmhouse there is a track that almost leads straight to the dun via jumping a couple of gates.

The light that night was of the type that that made everything appear black with an orangey backdrop. Looking west we got very lucky, the outline of St. Kilda could clearly be seen, a sign that I must really go back there as well.

Visited 28/7/2019.

Dun Na Dise (Stone Fort / Dun)

I wanted to get across to this dun but was warned by locals the sands were hard to judge and that the previous evening someone, not me, had had to rescued from the sands slightly further to the north. When I'm here next, I'll try again.

However like Beveridge, even looking from a safe distance, this looks like it might have been a Broch, the builders taking advantage of stones already there.

Next time.

Visited 28/7/2019.

Grimsay Wheelhouse (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

An update to Greywether's fieldnotes.

It is now on Canmore, has its own website and even better still there are guided tours of the wheelhouse by the excavators. Sadly for us, the chap at Port Nan Long informed us that he had been on the tour the previous night. These must be reasonably well known as the people at Grimsay Knitwear seemed to all about it as well.

The loch just to the south of the wheelhouse, Loch Honoray, contains two duns.

Go via the cottage mentioned by GW, follow the path over the hill, down the other side, jump a wee burn, climb up the other side, head east, over the gate, keep going and in a short time you'll looking down on top the wheelhouse. The outside wall was built by the excavators who picked up non site stones to create a dry stone dyke.

We loved it, like the dun at Sticir, it was near the top of the must visit sites.

Visited 28/7/2019.

Dun an Sticir (Broch)

Dun An Sticir was near the top of the list for visiting. A stunning site with stunning surrounds.

From the B983 follow the path to the first causeway, onto a wee island, a second causeway to the island of Loch Sticir and then a superb causeway heading north to the site. Another causeway or stepping stones leads to the eastern shore. Looking at the maps on Canmore it looks like a space ship more commonly found on Star Trek.

Galleried dun or broch, it doesn't really matter as the remnants are stunning, a testament to the building skills of the Iron Age stone masons. There is far to much going on here for me to describe, check the Canmore link below. What a vibe there is here, a sort of elation for me. Maybe for MacDonalds the excitement might not be so great, but for Murrays like me, no problem :-)

A superb end to a very long day which had started at 4.30am, my legs were done, no idea how far I'd walked but I knew I was in need of a few drams.

Visited 27/7/2019.
Showing 1-20 of 1,268 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, Nazareth on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

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