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Fieldnotes by drewbhoy

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Cabrich (Hillfort)

The walk between Spynie and Phoineas could described as difficult also included : fences, steep climbs, a maze of paths, mud etc etc. Conditions between Phoineas and Cabrich (or Dun Mor) are quite a bit easier as we swung north west and then east eventually finding a path which we thought would make things easier. It did until we ran out of path on the last section, a steep climb containing a tree that stole my rucksack. Once at the top easy enough, keep going east and the fort is reached.

The fort was built in two sections described by Canmore as a 'citadel' on the south west crags and a 'bailey' on the the flatter eastern side. There are remnants of a rampart swinging from the east to the south. Paths in the north east mark the entrance to the site.

A great way to end a superb day hiking around the Beauly area. We ended by looking over to were we'd started at Redcastle's crannog, a stunning view of the Beauly Firth, also stunning was the scenery around Ben Wyvis.

Take me to the ice cream shop :-)

Visited 13/4/2019.

Phoineas (Hillfort)

From Castle Spynie we headed north west going downhill, climbing through a deer fence first, until we met a forestry track, follow this west until it curves round north and eventually becomes more of a grass track. Moss and grass covered dry steen dykes border the edges upon which was parked the remnants of a car. How it had managed to get there is a mystery as no traffic had been on this track since the car itself. Luckily no skeletons. Keep going until the grass covered track meets a proper forestry and head east. When a small valley is to the north climb the hill to the east. This part is treeless and more of a mud bath until the trees re-emerge at the top. Once back into the trees keep going east.

The north and east sides are well protected by sheer rocks however to the west, our route, the outer wall of the fort can be seen as six large blocks still there. The impressive standing stone might be a more recent addition. Remnants of wall can also be found to the south east where the slope is slightly more gentler. Nothing else remains of the fort, its centre featureless.

Still a good place to visit, if visiting Spynie you really should visit here as well.

Visited 13/4/2019.

Corffhouse (Hillfort)

Corffhouse is famous for lot of reasons, one of them being the stupidity of the parking. Luckily we had no problem, but there isn't anywhere for more than one or two cars to park. There are local walks, the famous bridge crossing the River Beauly and the steps leading up to the war memorial which also leads to the fort. It is just to the south of Beauly and slightly to west of the bridge on the A862.

After climbing the stairs to the war memorial keep going until a clearing in the woods. This is the forts interior. Much of the defences have been removed, some remain in the north with low ramparts and wide ditches. These show that the fort was over 70m in width. To the south all the defences have been removed, the rest having been destroyed by quarrying. However like every fort everyone has been to the one thing that can't be removed is the view. Stunning views east towards the river and the Beauly Firth.

Pity about the parking situation, a pleasant site on a pleasant day.

Visited 13/4/2019.

Kinloch (Cairn(s))

Head west from Blairgowrie towards Dunkeld on the A923 looking for Loch Marlee. Just at the start of the loch there is a layby with the small wood containing the site just beyond.

Canmore have had problems with this place in the past but I got lucky, the vegetation seems to died down a bit, jumped a wee dyke and fence to land on the east site of the cairn, which resembles many of the barrows reasonably nearby. It is huge, 30m wide by at least 2m high. Field clearance appears to have been dumped on top. In the middle of site there is a weird square of stones, pure luck or maybe the remnants of a cist. Despite a good look I couldn't find anything that resembled a capstone.

The site is also surrounded by an old dry steen dyke which helps retain its circular shape. A signpost says that the farmers believe in conservation, hopefully this means prehistoric sites as well. The evidence is good as previous visits to nearby sites have clearly showed that many of the farmers in the area do care.

Visited 9/7/2019.

Dryloch (Cairn(s))

For this visit, en route to Dunkeld, I parked just to west of the River Isla, at Ruthven Farm. From here I walked back east over the bridge. Despite the slow down signs and give ways I don't think local drivers pay much attention to slowing down.

Just to the east, beyond the cottages, take the track into the field and follow it as heads back west towards to the River Isla. At this point the track heads north leading straight to the site.

A good drenching and a beautiful river walk made for an atmospheric site.

Visited 9/7/2019.

Dun Mor (Beauly) (Stone Fort / Dun)

Dun Mor is set high above Beauly with spectacular views south, east and west. Almost everywhere you look the surrounding hills have forts or duns. This dun has to be one of the best.

From Beauly take Croyard Road, go through the cross roads, there is a sharp turn south west then north west, at the end of the road turn north east, at the first sharp corner there is a chalet park. I asked permission from the owner of the chalets to park who was delighted that the fort had visitors. She also had good knowledge of chamber cairns to the east. Walk a short distance to the west, jump the fence and you land on the outer rampart.

The double rampart is in very condition despite some quarrying on the southern edge. These ramparts surround the fort, on the eastern side stone work can be seen underneath the trees. The cup marked rock remained invisible despite my best efforts. There seems to be a debate about the site being a cairn, I saw nothing to support that theory. At 60m by 54m it would with ramparts up to 3m in height it seems unlikely.

I loved this site, nice sunny weather and tremendous views.

Visited 13/4/2019.

Redcastle (Crannog)

The Redcastle crannog is easily enough spotted on a nice clear day when the tide is reasonably out, so it proved when we had superb weather for our visit.

Leave the A9 at Charleston and take minor road west following the Beauly Firth, as you reach the crannog there is a massive passing place just before corners that lead to village and castle.

There was no causeway to the site, as Ian Suddaby (CDA Archaeology) explained to us. Hopefully I'll get his field report and post it here. He had found that the Iron Age folks had probably used the crannog as a place for skinning various beasts to use their hides. If we had taken waders we could have walked or stumbled across.

Still a beautiful site to start the day, one which I'd see from higher places with superb company.

Visited 13/4/2019.

Culbo (Cairn(s))

After a long and fairly annoying look around the 'improved field' at Brae Farm we headed south west back along the minor road until the Culbo junction. Follow the road until the second major corner and take the farm track south.

Canmore has the cairn situated amongst trees, however these trees are long gone and a new fir tree plantation was being planted when I arrived which meant that I could clearly see the cairn, slightly uphill, to the south.

An easy walk of about 400 meters leads to the cairn. It has been clipped by a track to the east and has had field clearance bunged on northern side. On the eastern side a couple of kerbs remain in place. Some type of plant grows on the southern side as well, whatever it is it makes the cairn look in need of a hair cut. On top of the cairn the earthfast stones are still there and at various points cairn material is clearly visible. To the east there is a chamber cairn, to the west and north glorious views of Wyvis and the Cromarty Firth.

A fine cairn to end a fine days hiking in the Black Isle, despite the untidiness of Brae Farm. Better get there in the near future or once again the cairn will be hidden by trees.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Brae Farm (Kerbed Cairn)

This much damaged cairn is in a corner of a disaster area to the north of the barns at Brae Farm. The kerb in the north arc is fairly well still preserved whilst others lay strewn everywhere around. Yet it still survives at just over 7m wide and at its tallest is 1m, the collapse in the cairn appears to have been filled in. There is a lot of rubble lying about thanks to the 'improvements'.

Brae Farm Chamber Cairn NH 6615 6281

As for the chamber cairn supposedly nearby, stones were lying everywhere, gorse/whins piled up. Will go back to have a look, but hugely annoying.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Brae Farm (Cairn(s))

After returning to the forestry car park near Breachloch, we about turned and headed back north, then take the first minor road heading north east, keep going along till the road ends (very straight, very twisty, very straight) meeting another minor road. Take this road which heads south east then north east. If you look to the south the cairn can be spotted before the road to Brae Farm. At the farm I asked permission to park which was kindly given.

At the farm head west into the field avoiding the barns, basically horse shoe round these buildings and after a couple of fence jumps the cairn is in front with stunning views north (the town in front is Alness), west and east.

The cairn, at one time completely separate, appears to have been joined by field clearance on its eastern side. I noticed that cattle feeders had also been used on top of the site. Still kerbs remain in place to the south and the width, 9m, can still be detected. It is almost 1m in height.

This site has seen much better days, hopefully it can be rescued.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Breachloch Hill (Cairn(s))

On leaving the dun at Findon Cottage we headed back west on the B9169 towards Culbokie taking the first minor road south east. Keep going until the road becomes very straight, half way down this there is car parking for forestry walks on the west side.

We walked back up the road until a track heading east, near a mast, which gradually turns into a walkers track.

The forestry people discovered the cairn and have completely made sure that it will be almost impossible to find. It has been trashed and trees planted on top. Only the height (1m) of the site gives an indication of its whereabouts, deep trenches either side make it dangerous for walking. Its width is approx 10m.

Sadly not much to see, a nice walk tho except for the approach to the site.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Findon Cottage (Stone Fort / Dun)

After a lengthy stay at Carn Mor we headed back into Culbokie to head further east along the B9169 until the first minor road heading north, keep on the road as it swings to the east. Plenty room to park at Milton Cottage.

Head west across the road, down a fairly steep gully, jump the Findon Burn, climb up the other side and the remains of the dun will be straight in front.

The dun has been badly quarried but enough remains to give a fairly good idea of what might have been. In parts the surrounding wall/rampart still survives at 1m high and is 3.5m wide.

Nice site despite being almost an extension of a garden and despite my best efforts I didn't fall into the burn.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Carn Mor (Stone Fort / Dun)

After the stunning site at Culbokie Henge we headed east to Culbokie on the B9169 taking the first minor road that heads south(ish). Keep going until a forestry car park, this has two informative boards about the dun.

Through the woods to the north the village of Culbokie can be seen, showing how the village has grown since the Canmore photo. It seems to me that the eastern side of the Black Isle has a lot of new builds.

The dun had three ramparts which, at the moment, can be best seen on the north due to some heather burning. Fallen stonework indicates how big these defences must have been, the innermost rampart has spread to over 5m wide surrounding an area of 18m. The complete width seems very close to 60m with a clear entrance on the south west.

One of the best duns I've seen.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Culbokie (Henge)

We parked at Teanagairn Cottage (on the B9169, west of Culbokie village), which overlooks the Cromarty Firth, its bridge and Dingwall (to the west). The oil rigs in for servicing at Invergordon can also be clearly seen.

To be honest this site came to me as a bit of a shock as it is quite well preserved and is over 30m wide. As a meeting place it is perfectly placed. Like Stoer, I had a good look at some of the stones near the wooded track, makes you wonder. Also some largish and lengthy stones are piled beside the gate which leads to the track back to the B9169.

Superb site.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Croftcrunie (Megalithic Cemetery)

Not much remains of the Bronze Age cremation cemetery, what does remain is the badly damaged mound and a well lowered enclosure which is well over 20m wide.

The north east edge of the site is up against a fence. Still at least something survives unlike the nearby chamber cairn, still there 1963 gone by 1970.

From A9 take the A832 east at the Tore roundabout, then take the first minor road south. Go about a mile and pull in at the first forestry track. Follow this track, east, until near its end then look for a small track heading south. This heads straight to the site which can be spotted as there is a fallen tree on the north west.

There is an atmosphere here, there always is amongst trees I think, probably enhanced by the destruction of the nearby chamber cairn.

Visited 10/4/2019.

Carmont Hill (Cairn(s))

From Square's Knap head downhill then follow the fence to the top of the hill which leads straight to the Carmont Cairn, north west. I've known were Carmont has been all the time but never visited.

It is similar to the cairns at the Tower of Johnson and the Cairn of Shiels in that it is made up of well rounded pebbles.

Being over 16m wide and almost 1m tall it has impressive all round views. The one major surprise is the proximity of the A90.

A great cairn, a great place but sadly its near neighbour has all but gone.

Visited 28/3/2019.

Square's Knap (Cairn(s))

I've always wanted to go to the Square's Knap and Carmont cairns. The delivery of a trumpet to a nearby house provided the perfect opportunity.

Canmore's description as a turf and whin covered site are sadly, like a lot places recently I've seen, well out of date. Square's Knap has been well and truly removed.

All that remains is a circular pattern of pebbles, stones that are similar to Carmont, Cairn of Shiels etc etc and a change of soil colour. The next time this field is ploughed all evidence of the cairn will be removed.

I parked at Hillhead of Auquhirie and kept heading west using various tracks and fields until I reached the wind farm. At the main junction amongst the turbines keep heading west into a field and look into the small valley below. Piles of stones, whins and turf, the probable remains of Square's Knap.

To find the actual site follow the fence line until the wood appears, jump the fence and head up the small hill to the south. What remains of the cairn now lay scattered in the recently ploughed field.

Visited 28/3/2019.

Tillypronie (Cairn(s))

We parked at Tillypronie House which is going under extensive rennovation. The track heading west is in a fairly decent condition which we used to get onto the tarred road leading to the house. Keep heading west until a hardly used track heading south. This leads into a field, the remains of the cairn are on a ridge with glorious views of Morven.

Not much remains in a cairn that is almost 8m wide and no more than 0.2 high. Possible kerbs remain on the south and west. Sadly the site has taken tremendous punishment, nearby hut circles are barely visible.

Despite all of this I liked this site, I like this area and I like Morven.

Visited 1/3/2019.

James's Temple (Stone Fort / Dun)

Leave Craigiehowe Wood and follow the minor road, west, until the first minor road heading north west. Take this road until its meeting place with another road. Go north until the first minor road, signposted Drumderfit, heading east. At the farm I asked permission to park which was kindly given.

On the north eastern side of the farm there is a track which skirts the northern side of Drumderfit Hill. Keep going until the track ends and meets a track heading south east. At this point I headed uphill to find the dun sitting on top of a rocky crag. A very pleasant walk through the Black Isle countryside.

We approached from the west but the entrance is marked by blocks on the eastern side. Several large blocks make up part of the defences as well as the fallen turf covered stones of a wall. Once again the views over to Munlochy Bay, at the bottom of the hill, are beautiful. The forts interior is 17m by 11m. The pig sty is more recent.

This is a very nice site and a very nice walk, a bit of chill after the anger of Craigiehowe.

Visited 4/1/2019.

Craigiehowe 3 (Cairn(s))

This is the furthest east and the last remaining, as far as I could see (except Arrie), cairn of the Craigiehowe area. It is a sad state of affairs as it has almost been completely obliterated.

A very low mound about 10m in width remains and can be seen quite clearly. What looks like kerbs or smallish standing stones have been flattened, field clearance flung on top and sadly it looks like it will be completely removed reasonably soon.

Follow Craigiehowe 2 head north east then follow the track north, eventually this will head east, and keep going until an almost clear field. The remnants are in the middle.

Cracking views of Munlochy and its bay. Beautiful area this, with a trail of prehistoric destruction as follows.

NH 6787 5154 couldn't be found.

NH 6791 5157 gone.

NH 679 516 gone.

NH 6794 5161 gone.

Hopefully someone will come along and prove me wrong especially for the 'not found'.

Visited and not visited 4/1/2019.
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