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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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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.

Crois Mhic Jamain (Standing Stones)

Like Carl and Postie described the stones are on mounds next to one of the house in the small hamlet Port Nan Long, Harbour of the Ships.

The stone nearest the house still stands whilst the southern stone has fallen. Luckily I was spied by the occupant of the house who mentioned a famous wheelhouse.

Visited 24/72019.

Cladh Maolrithe (Standing Stone / Menhir)

After the chamber cairn and possible chamber cairn on the south side it was time to head to the top of the hill to meet the spectacular standing stone of Cladh Maolrithe.

My first thought when clambering towards the site was that I'd entered a henge. According to Canmore it might be a very well houked cairn or a burial yard. There might well have been a very very small chapel built right next to the stone. The aerial photo on the aforementioned site looks like huge basin.

It is a stunning standing stone with stunning views. Time to splash my way back downhill, at least the rain had stopped.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Loch Borve (Chambered Cairn)

Just a short distance before I reached the chamber on Beinn A'chlaidh I found what looked the remnants of chamber cairn or cist looking down on Loch Borve. The capstone is supported by slabs on both sides and appears to set within a small mound. Some cairn material does remain around the central area to a distance of 5m to 6m.

Like the other prehistoric sites in the area most of the stones have been removed to make roads, dykes and blackhouses. Not many people would approach by this route so maybe no surprise it hasn't been noticed.

All the details, grid ref and photos have been sent to Canmore.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Beinn A'chlaidh (Chambered Cairn)

After a good look at the remains of Sgalabraig I headed back to the village hall and retraced my steps back to the coastal road and headed back towards the ferry terminal. Instead of going to the terminal I headed straight on to the roads end to climb Beinn A'chlaidh from the south east in an effort to the find the chamber cairn.

Finding the chamber cairn was reasonable enough, however there is no path and underfoot conditions, on this day, were marshy until the reasonable dryness of the heather.

Two slabs remain in place and at least three other stones would have also stood. Magnificent views south and west especially over to Boreray.

Great wee site.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Sgalabraig Souterrain

Head west from the cairn / stone and you'll walk straight to the scant remains of a souterrain. Most of the site has been used as lintils and in various buildings.

What does remain is the outline of the souterrains start and end indicated by some stones still in place. The hollowed out section being the actual souterrain minus stones.

If visiting Sgalabraig Cairn you might as well take the short stroll to the nearby earthhouse.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Sgalabraig (Cairn circle)

Heading back down the 'Hillock of the Sun' I walked back along the road heading east, then take the first minor road heading south which ends at the village hall.

From the hall head straight west along a track of sorts and look slightly to the south for a stone shaped a chair. This, the Chair Stone, was once used by the Vikings as a court and by others as a place of execution.

Canmore say its a cairn and some say its the remnants of a stone circle. Personally I think its both, no reason why not. Not much remains but several stones are set on edge and earthfast. Probably like a lot sites in the Uists / Benbecula / Beneray this site had multi purposes.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Cnoc Na Greana (Chambered Cairn)

By the time we'd reached Berneray the weather eventually caught us up and it decided to chuck it down. However we went through the village of Borve until we parked near the United Free church.

Upwards to not so aptly named 'Hillock of the Sun', supposedly were sun worship happened. I could have been done with these guys, the rain kept falling.

4 stones can be seen, a glacerial, 2 chamber stones and a further stone which perhaps might have been a kerb. More stones, possibly the rest of the chamber lay beneath the surface. Canmore give a width of 14m which would match the remaining stone scatter. The bulk of the stones probably went into the making of the islands roads.

Good site despite the drenching.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Dun Rosail (Stone Fort / Dun)

The walk from Sagairt to Dun Rosail is very short indeed, walk east and jump the fence to the south.

The entrance is probably in the east as a row of stones seem to indicate some kind of defence. Very little remains of the dun except for odd mounds, the dun itself is almost 12m in diameter. Nature aids the defences in the south west but this would be a hard place to defend.

Interesting place.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Clach An T-sagairt (Natural Rock Feature)

Like Postie I was intrigued by Clach An T-Sagairt and wondered its purpose. It is set just to the north of Dun Rosail.

The 'sinister' cross is still there and that could mark the edge of various Saints influences or a meeting place.

However the stone has been standing there for thousands upon thousands of years, no reason why the prehistoric peoples didn't help it stay up.

After a good look round I had look at the ground on the west side. To me there appears to chocks helping keep the stone erect so possibly it isn't a natural setting. It certainly is an impressive stone that looks far into the west and the Atlantic.

Makes you wonder!

Visited 24/7/2019.

Oban Trumisgarry (Stone Fort / Dun)

It appears that the only causeway at this site was the one I took the photos on. This is the first water that the B893 crosses heading north from the A865.

The causeway to the dun might well be covered in mud according to Beveridge. There isn't much left of the dun except for the ruined wall that surrounds the island.

Still it's a lovely location despite the fact there isn't much left.

Visited 24/10/2019.

Loch Nan Gearrachan (Stone Fort / Dun)

From Dun Thomaidh head back to the main road and head west on the A865 for a short distance to Loch Nan Gearrachun, just before the road reaches the banks of the loch there is a track heading north. I parked here and walked along the road until the dun was visible.

The island is connected to the north shore by an impressive causeway and is 10m by 8m. A ruined wall surrounds the site.

Beautiful scenery, beautiful site.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Dun Thomaidh (Stone Fort / Dun)

Just to the east of Loch Olavat there is a minor road heading north, take it and then take the first road heading east. This, unsurprisingly, leads to a small harbour. Walk to the north side for a clear view of Dun Thomaidh.

What may or may not have been a broch but definitely a dun is in the Caolas Bhalaigh waters. It is connected to the island of Vallay by a large causeway. The small harbour is in the east presumably as it would be more sheltered.

It had been my intention to get to Vallay Island but there is hardly any information on safe crossing times. We couldn't find a signpost for the track across for this also. So a proper visit to Dun Thomaidh will happen in the future.

Next time we will get across!

Visited 24/7/2019.

Dun Olavat (Stone Fort / Dun)

By the time we reached Olavat the weather had taken a turn for the worse, it wasn't raining but the clouds were getting lower and lower. Like Scolpaig the tracks leading to Olavat had been flooded in the previous two days, earlier we had been warned against walking to the site if the weather closed in. For a change I did as I was told.

More of a crannog than a dun, perhaps more of a settlement than a dun. One thing for certain the original assertion that this site was Iron Age was miles out as discoveries date back to Neolithic times. The causeway is also in very good condition. Aerial pics in the Canmore page are brilliant.

From Scolpaig simply head east on the A865 and take the next minor road north.

Visited 24/7/2019.

Dun Scolpaig (Stone Fort / Dun)

Dun Scolpaig has become quite famous as the tower built on top of the dun is the picture in Ordnance Survey 18. They had a far sunnier day than us.

We didn't attempt to cross as the causeway seems to be falling apart, besides that the area near it thad been flooded the previous day and it was still decidedly very wet underfoot.

The tower which was erected in 1830 appears to have been built from the stones of the dun.

Follow the A865 from the Clettraval road north and pull in just after the Cross (on the OS map). A minor road indicated is in a ruinous condition and the farm at the end of the road in a similar state.

Visited 24/7/2019.
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