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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Law Hill (Hillfort)

From Shien Hill I headed, west, retracing my easily found steps in the track or mudbath until I reached a track heading south. Follow this until some trees, then follow the fence heading west. A gentle climb to a small ridge gives a superb view of the hillfort plus a couple of hut circles.

I approached through the north entrance which is lined by two small dry stane dykes (the borders of the probable main entrance), cutting through several defences. 5 ramparts plus a cheveaux de frise protect the north, it being the most easiest climb. Entrances can also be found to east, west (very steep) and south. The southern entrance appears to have been quarried almost out of existence.

A 6m wide wall surrounds the hilltop, protecting the 154m by 90m site, the best remnants are on the north west.

A much easier climb than Evelick.

Visited 29/12/2023.

Arnbathie (Cairn(s))

The Arnbathie cairn is situated on the highest point of Law Hill, which is also the highest point of the hillfort. Some stonework remains on the North East and along with, perhaps, a very earthfast sunken kerb.

At just over 7.0m wide and 0.5m tall the cairn is grass covered, superb views as the winter's sun begins to fade.

Visited 29/12/2023.

Shien Hill (Cairn(s))

Just north of Easthill Farm there is a track that heads east. Follow the track, sometimes mud bath, as it heads east and look for the tree covered hill to the north. Not all of the hill is tree covered, jump the fence and head north through the trees, the north side clear. Glorious views of snow covered mountains to the north. After weeks of rain and flood it's nice to see the sun.

The cairn is huge, being 34m wide and 6m high. Something is disturbed on top, a marker or walker's cairn. Some stones do poke through the grass / turf covered site. Canmore says it hasn't been disturbed, long may that continue to be the case.

Lovely place, very quiet.

Visited 29/12/2023.

Pole Hill (Cairn(s))

Pole Hill can be seen from all surrounding areas, indeed it seemed to keep an eye on me most of the day. From Evelick Hillfort I walked past the Goddens cup marked rock. There is a fence to be contested with, in the end I cheated and rolled underneath.

At 20m wide and 3m high the site has superb all round views, but appears to be built in three sections. As per usual, a trig has been plonked on top. Some stonework can be seen but short grass mainly covers the

The cairn doesn't seem to have been damaged in any way, apart from the obvious, let's hope it stays that way.

A stunning site.

Visited 29/12/2023.

Evelick (Hillfort)

From the cup marked rock at Goddens walk south east, you'll walk straight into the multiple defences of Evelick Hillfort. There are 5 ramparts, some several metres in height, to climb over before getting to the centre of the fort.

Elsewhere, defences are provided by natural features and a single rampart, steep climbs are in place to the east, south and west. There are entrances on the north, a causeway type feature and in the east.

Fantastic views looking south to the multiple forts south of the River Tay in Fife, to north the large cairn on Pole Hill, the next stop.

Visited 29/12/2023.

Goddens (Cup Marked Stone)

I was allowed to park at Evelick Farm, next to Evelick Castle (scene of quite a few murders). From there I headed north west to the first gate, jumped it and headed west, climbing the fairly steep slopes of Pole Hill. Easier paths can be found at the summit of the minor road.

5 well worn cup marks are on the rock which is almost between the cairn on Pole Hill and the fort at Evelick. At certain angles they can be made out, and other angles they are barely visible. They are all about 0.65cm wide.

Visited 29/12/2023.

Sig More (Chambered Cairn)

Follow the same directions as Mark, and stop at the same place. The way over to the cairn was kinder to me, there was hardly any seaweed and in any case I'd had my troubles for the earlier at Ardnamonie.

Unlike the previous two sites I could get to this one and there is quite a lot to see. At 20m wide, damage by both humans and erosion has led to stones falling all around the site 13 in total, some of which might be capstones. Thanks to robbing the chamber can be seen and thanks to the robbing its difficult to tell if there are three areas / compartments. Two can be certainly seen, of the third only two stones remain standing.

One of the nicest 'what ifs' I've seen.

A great way to finish the trip.

Visited 13/08/2023

Dun Buidhe (Broch)

Slightly to the east Ardnamonie is the much more recognisable broch Dun Buidhe. I walked along the fence line until I reached the site, the ground looked drier so I jumped the fence, walked 8 or 9 paces to end up almost waist deep in the bog.

Sadly it appears that, on drier days, it looks like the site is used as a rubbish tip. Also later buildings have been attached to site, as at Ardnamonie. Even from where I stood or sank, you could see the circular shape of a broch despite being covered vegetation.

Luckily no washer-woman was washing or drying any shrouds on my visit, so all would be fine.

Worth a (re) visit when much, much drier conditions.

Visited 11/08/2023.

Ardnamonie (Cairn(s))

From Loch an Daill we headed south on the A865 and took the first road heading west.

Similar to Loch an Daill Mary provided a parking space, or rather her shrine did, at the end of the road, or just before it headed south. From the shine I jumped the gate and headed south east, the site is easily spotted.

It has been a trip in which water levels have featured quite a bit, and this is a massive example of dropping water levels. What used to be loch has vanished and changed into a large marsh, perhaps you can get in from the south but looking at aerial photos on Canmore I'd suggest not trying.

However, I got as close as I could, before deciding it was unsafe.

What remains is a bit of a shambles, it appears to have been used for several functions, the outlines of buildings can be seen. It probably has been a cairn or a dun or a broch. Stones could easily have been recycled but as Canmore suggests a proper excavation is needed.

A bit of a what-if.

Visited 11/08/2023.

Loch An Daill (Promontory Fort)

Not much to see here, look for the promontory on the north east side of the shrine beside the telegraph poles.

There is a wall amongst the tall vegetation which I found very easily by tripping over it. Further towards the shore there is the remains of another small wall before you are in the fort proper.

Worth looking at it, if looking for the dun.

Visited 11/08/2023.

Loch An Daill (Stone Fort / Dun)

If there was a causeway here, reportedly seen in 1915 but well submerged - by 2003 it had vanished. By the time of my arrival with reports of water levels being quite a bit lower it would be safe to say it might never be found.

The actual dun is still there clearly visible by looking east from the shrine at Ardmore, if heading north from Daliburgh (South Uist) its just before the causeway to Benbecula, if heading south from Benbecula park at the first shrine.

Not much remains on the 'high crannog' except the usual fallen stones and what appears to some kind of standing stone.

Beinn Tairbeirt and Beinn A' Phortair provide dramatic backdrops to the south east.

Visited 11/08/2023.

Tigh Cloiche (South Uist) (Cairn(s))

The cairn at Tigh Cloiche has seen a lot of damage done to it throughout the centuries. It still stands, grass covered, at 12m wide by 1m high. Stones can be seen in the middle, first thoughts, to me, it might be remains of a cist but more likely a small shelter of some kind. The site is surrounded in fairly marshy ground. It seems Canmore can't make their minds up also, they didn't declare if it was Neolithic or Bronze Age, perhaps it might even be an Iron Age Wheelhouse. I'd go for a robbed Bronze Age Round Cairn, an excavation would be interesting.

To the north of the cairn there is a minor road heading east, there is plenty pull over space a short distance from the A865. Not wishing to walk down the busy road I headed cross country, straight south via some marsh and the occasional dry bit.

A but of a what if, but worth a visit to speculate.

Visited 11/08/2023.

Dun Altabrug (Stone Fort / Dun)

We returned to West Loch Ollay from the standing stone at Crois Chnoca Breaca and took the car to Dun Altabrug.

Take the road that swings north, the road we came, and at the junction head west. Keep going, past a minor road, and as the road swings north east take the first minor road south, stopping at the road's end. We were given permission to park by the occupant at Peninerine.

Head south east up and over a wee hill and the dun will be clearly seen along with the causeway, the causeway being just over 30m in length.

Decent walls still exist on the 'high crannog' / dun with the entrance on the east. Most of the site is overgrown. The circular wall is over 1.2m, the island is slightly oval and measures 9.5m by 8m.

Once again it was explained that water levels are low here also, as they are over North and South Uist and Benbecula. The photos proved that when compared with photos taken from 5 years ago, vegetation had grown, the causeway is much more visible and the land from the farmhouse a lot les boggy.

Superb site.

Visited 10/08/2023.

Crois Chnoca Breaca (Standing Stone / Menhir)

A weird and wonderful stone which could easily be mistaken as a ruined Celtic Cross. Parking is easy as there is a car park at the Ardmichael Cemetery but we headed towards the coast, from West Loch Ollay, to follow the Hebridean Way which gave us a easy walk heading north, and more importantly it led straight to the site.

It stands on a wee mound at just over 2m tall, almost giving a middle finger to time and, perhaps, modernisation. Hopefully a gentle straighten up will save this stone falling as it sits at an precarious angle.

Fantastic site / sight with fantastic scenery.

Visited 10/08/2023.

West Loch Ollay (Crannog)

The following I was up bright breezy and picked up my 'water expert' friend for the first of two site visits.

North of the road to An Carra, on the A865, take the first road heading west, the the next road heading south before stopping at the first farm track that leads north.

Jump the gate then head straight north. When you reach the shore the 'high crannog' will be in front of you. Not much is left of any buildings that existed, but the tumble down proves that once upon a time something was there. Something that still is exists is a line of stones heading west, a possible mini naust.

Canmore also have a photograph that show this line of stones clearly, on my photographs, grass and weeds are growing and much more of the site can be seen.

It was explained to me that West Loch Ollay was gradually getting lower, vegetation was growing on parts of the loch. This site just highlighted it more accurately with more rocks and bedrock beginning to appear.

Not a lot to look at but interesting given someone had a knowledge of climate change.

Visited 10/08/2023.

Beinn A'Charra (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Not to be confused with North Uist's standing stone ot the same name, near the Committee Road, this is a stunning stone. The Who sang you can see for miles and miles and miles, you certainly can, west, north and south.

It stands, like an old wizard, at over 5m tall with a slight angle unlike its northern counterpart's blind drunk angle.

Another reason to visit this stone was to meet up with a friend who works at the waterworks and asked the question about water levels. To my surprise I was told that the levels that summer were well down, this explained why a lot causeways were appearing that in previous years could not be seen. An example of which I'd be shown the following day.

A tremendous stone.

Visited 09/08/2023.

Loch Cnoc A' Buidhe (Stone Fort / Dun)

An incredible 83m long by 1.5m to 2m wide S shaped causeway connects the dun at Loch Cnoc A' Buidhe, which itself is just over 13m wide. A spectacular view, south west, as I was hastily walking back to the car for a discussion about water levels at An Carra Standing stone.

Closer inspection next time.

Photographed 09/08/2023.

Reineval (Chambered Tomb)

The first impression that jumped into my head about Reineval was that it was 'this is Dun Bharpa's smaller relative'.

It is quite a bit smaller but equally impressive, being almost 23m wide and at its highest is over 3.5m. Like Bharpa it is surrounded by tall stones, 12 still stand, also like Barra's biggest cairn, standing on top of this only seems to encourage the wind to blow harder. However, from this vantage you can see that site has been well disturbed.

Very easy to find, it can be seen from the A865, I parked at the end of minor road and walked up the track past a couple of storage agricultural buildings to climb south up through soggy marshy ground.

It was a reasonably clear day so the views, as always, stunning!

Visited 09/08/2023.

Cill Donnain (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Situated next to the museum car park at Kildonan is a reconstruction of an outline of an Iron Age Wheelhouse. Originally it would have been situated at Cill Donnain, near the vanishing standing stone at Sligeanach. However this one didn't escape and was captured in 1990.

A nice addition to the museum.

Visited 09/08/2023.

Dun Vulan (Broch)

After the failed attempt to find the standing stone at Sligeanach, I headed north following the coastline to the Rudha Ardvule peninsula, the home to the broch / galleried dun Dun Vulan.

It must have been some place when built and would have been seen from afar. Despite being ruinous the 11m oval shape of the site can be seen, building work is best preserved in the North east arc which houses the entrance. A lot of work has occurred to clear stones from in and around the the site making it safer and easier to get around. A defensive wall has also been built to protect the broch from erosion.

Steel mesh gabions are also in place to offer further protection.


Visited 08/08/2023.
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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, 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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