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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Battle Hill (Hillfort)

Battle Hill is the scene for quite a few prehistoric monuments, the hut circle and ring cairn are there but have been covered in turf until more digs later this year. What can be seen is the remains of a fort on top of the small hill.

Take the first road heading north east, on the A97 heading into Huntly near the petrol station, which leads to a small car park. Head up to the woodland walks taking a good look at the info board as the grid refs in Canmore are miles out. Follow the track that also heads north East, look for the the second gate in the deer fence. This path leads to a hut which leads to the top hill. Signs of the archaeological dig can be seen. Hopefully more info to come later in the year.

Visited 4/1/2020.

Clashmach Hill (Cairn(s))

Having climbed Clashmasch Hill several times looking for the nearby ring cairn and the cairn much further on at Allrick I was always surprised that the cairn near the trig wasn't mentioned in Canmore.

That has now been corrected after the Christmas Day (2019) visit. Some of the stones have been used to erect a walkers cairn next to the trig. The ancient cairn still has at least 4 kerbs in place in a footprint at least 6m wide being 0.4m at its highest.

Tremendous views all round views to the Tap O Noth, Bennachie, Knock and the town of Huntly in the valley below. Unlike the 2017 visit when it was snowy, Christmas 2019 was mild.

Visited 2/1/2017

Re-visited 25/12/2019.

Dun Garbhlaich (Stone Fort / Dun)

As the crow the flies it is 1.5km from Breakachy Cairn to the stunning fort at Dun Garbhlaich, there is a certain amount of 'aye right' at the distance.

The trek from the cairn includes the climbing of several small hills, picking the way through bogs, jumping a fair amount of streams, avoiding falling into peat cutting holes and, today, an ever increasing wind. However the sun remained out till we reached the final climb.

The first view of the fort shows the well preserved walls of the south west, follow the ridge up which leads the southern entrance. As soon as we entered the fort the heavy snow from the west arrived. To the north and south east the wall has tumbled over the edge. However the entrance does remain in place with upright slabs still in place. The forts interior wall to the east is also in a ruinous state. After a good look round in conditions that were atrocious we headed back to the valley below.

After crossing the first marsh the weather relented but not on the fort, it was shrouded in snow. On the hill to the west a row of about 30 deer watched us as we picked our way through the bogs. Eventually we made it back to the track near the Breakachy Cairn, drenched but intact.

We retraced our steps back to Leanassie and the car. Behind was white with snow in the higher places, we'd probably got down just before a complete whiteout.

Another great day in the hills around Beauly, safe bet a few more coming up.

Visited 2/11/2019.

Breakachy Burn (Kerbed Cairn)

After returning to the car we headed west via a few twists and turns ending up at Upper Leanassie where we were allowed to park, even better there is a sign saying walkers welcome.

Follow the track west going through several gates, jumping a couple of streams until the trees finish. Look west and the tremendous Dun Mor can be seen. Unfortunately reaching the fort from this north east point is almost impossible thanks to the Breakachy Burn. However that is a target for another day, looking west we could see the weather had plans for us as well.

The cairn at Breakachy has an impressive kerb consisting of 11 stones to the south west. It is 9m wide and 0.5m high. Sadly the site has been affected by the scourge of depopulation and the remains of a depopulation steading.

Still, despite this, this is a superb site, the views are stunning, across the burn Dun Mor and further west, snow covered mountains. We were going to head North East.

Visited 2/11/2019.

Dun Fhamhair (Hillfort)

It is very difficult to find places to park on the minor roads amongst the hills above Beauly. However we eventually parked between Ruisuarie and Drumindorsair. The track heading north, on this day, is a mud bath but leads to the much better forestry track, after jumping a small burn, which leads to the fort after taking the track heading north at the T junction.

As the track veers west head south west cross country to the fort, therefore enter the fort from the north east. The trees are well spaced so access to the fort is relatively, beware of fallen trees.

Stone defences which surround the fort are well covered in turf and heather but must have been impressive as they are well over 3m wide. Some built areas survive especially in the west. No entrance seems clear but facing stones to the south east suggest entry to me. Anybody attacking from from the south east would be sore pushed as it is very, emphasis on very, steep.

So we left the fort via this steep route back to the track. A and B managed perfectly well, whilst I perfected some forward rolls.

Visited 2/11/2019.

Carn Challard (Cairn(s))

A magical cairn to finish the last day of October, Carn Challard. Canmore doesn't say to much about this site, only saying that it's possibly a ring cairn.

To me, it looked like a normal upland cairn for the area. It is approximately 16m wide and its 1.5m tall. As usual its been houked and trees are growing in the damaged area.

From Carrbridge I walked on the minor road heading west past the railway station, what looks like an industrial estate until I reached a track heading north west which eventually crosses the River Dulnain via the beautiful Sluggan Bridge. Just after the bridge follow the river east until the deer fence and follow it uphill until its junction with another fence. At this point, it is relatively easy to get over. On the other side follow the fence west, which leads straight to the cairn.

Despite being fairly difficult to reach, a tremendous site.

Visited 31/10/2019.

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
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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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