The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Miscellaneous Posts by drewbhoy

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Ellon (relocated) (Stone Circle)

Along the Ythan valleys, archaeologists have identified cairns, stone circles and cists, many destroyed or badly damaged in previous centuries by farmers and builders before their importance was understood. Most standing stones suffered a similar fate, but one of these “menhirs”, the Candle Stone, persists at Drumwhindle. On the Hill of Logie, about a mile downstream from Ellon, evidence of round, stone-built huts from the Iron Age is clearly visible. And further downstream near the estuary, a village from that same period has been unearthed (unsanded?) at Forvie. A stone circle of unknown purpose stood on the riverbank near Aldi’s current location at the charmingly named Pinkie Park. The 3ft high stones are still visible upstream on the riverbank, though sadly not in the original circle. And if you visit the Prop of Ythsie, take a look at the stone circle known as Druid Temple, started around 3000 years ago, when the third phase of Stonehenge was under constructon.

The Thief's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

G. Rosscuithnidh ; headland, referring most probably to the promintory on which Invergordon stands, now called ‘ An Rudha. ‘ The latter part is rather difficult. Dr Joyce notes in Ireland such names as Quinhie and Feaghquinney, from Ir. cuinche, pronounced nearly queenha, the arbutus tree. This suits the phonetics of Roscuithnidh, which would thus mean arbutus head. In a field by the roadside, near the Parish Chuch, is Clach a’ Mheirlich, the thief’s stone.

Rosskeen Parish Place Names

Tigh Stallar, Boreray (Stone Circle)

Archaeology & History

The isle of Boreray is four miles northeast of Hirta and here once lived, according to legend, a christian hermit. However in the reverend Kenneth Macaulay History of St. Kilda (1764), he told us that the character was actually a druid. Take your pick! The druid lived at Stallir House, adjacent to which, said Macaulay, was

“a large circle of huge stones fixed perpendicularly in the ground, at equal distances from one and other, with one more remarkable regular in the centre which is flat in the top and one would think sacred in a more eminent degree.”

In a later article by F.L.W. Thomas (1867) he also mentioned this ‘stone circle’, though indicated its decline. Additional information on this little known stone is sparse due to its somewhat remote position on one of the uninhabited isles of St. Kilda.

Witches Stones (Standing Stones)

“two in number: one, an upright pointed stone, 5ft by 2ft by 3ft 6in high; ans the other lying 3ft 6in to the southwest, 7ft 6in by 5ft by 2ft 6in thick. The latter has fifteen cups, varying from 2 to 3in in diameter; one with a single ring carved on the sloping face at the south end of the stone. It lies horizontally and has two hollows, worn at the ends where the cups are, by the toes of persons climbing onto the top. The ground under this stone has been partly removed and it appears to rest on two others; but the whole appears to be natural and not a cromlech or rocking stone.”

W. McNicoll

Cairn Greg (Cairn(s))

About 600m E of the present investigations at
Pitkerro is the upstanding prehistoric mound of Cairn
Greg on the Linlathen estate, excavated in the 19th
century and found to be of Bronze Age date but reused in the Pictish period (Stuart 1866). A Pictish Class

1 symbol stone was found at Cairn Greg (Stuart 1866,
101) but is now lost.

Ray Cachart and Derek Hall


Cairn Greg was excavated in 1834. The central cist rested on ground level and neasured 4'10" x 2'9" x 2'10" deep, and the joints were luted with clay. The large capstone, 7' x 4'6", was separated from an upper capstone by a layer of soil 1' thick. In the cist were a rivetted dagger (present whereabouts unknown), and a beaker - type S4 - now in Dundee Museum. A fragment of a Pictish symbol stone is said to have been found between the capstones, and removed to Linlathen House.

J Stuart 1867; A S Henshall 1968; D L Clarke 1970.


Herbert Coutts' 'Ancient Monuments of Tayside'

The stone was displayed in the grounds of Linlathen House at least until the 1950s. The house was abandoned shortly after that, largely due to damage caused by billeted troops during the war.. The central part of the house itself was demolished in 1958 and both wings followed in the 1980s. There is now a nursing home on the site. Most of the rubble was buried in a quarry to the north.

Dun Nosebridge (Hillfort)

Robert C. Graham, author of the book Carves Stones of Islay written in 1885, described the fort as follows:

The name is an elaborate corruption of the Icelandic words Hnaus and Borg, meaning Turf fort, and apt description, as the whole structure is covered with a most beautiful and velvety sward. The top of the hill has been cut away so as to form a level quadrilateral platform, 90 feet long by 50 feet wide. The longer sides run east and west and the platform is protected by earthworks. The slope towards the river on the south side is so steep as to render artificial defences unnecessary, but on the other sides the fort is strongly protected. On the west there are four trenches one above the other, with high earthworks between. One of these trenches if continued round the northern and eastern sides, to which from the nature of the ground it would form a sufficient protection. At the east end, however, a projecting lump of hill, below the main trench, is again protected by a smaller ditch. This is a most interesting place and well worth seeing.

Alternatively, we might want to refine the criteria for inclusion of given borg names in the list. Take Dùn Nosebridge in Kilarrow (NGR: NR 371 601), for example, from Norse *Hnausaborg (Turf Fortress). The fort in question is of the impressive, yet highly unusual ‘multivalate’ type. Its location also
dominates the fertile Laggan Valley, one of Islay’s two main watersheds. If we were to exclude it from the total we would be left with one independent
borg name per medieval parish, suggesting perhaps that these reflect a sixpart administrative division – six séttungir. As in Man and Orkney, this would
not preclude division into administrative ‘halves’; and this could be where the true significance of Dùn Nosebridge lies.

‘ B o r g s ’ , B o a t s a n d t h e B e g i n n i n g s o f
Islay’s Medieval Parish Network?
Alan Macniven

Creag Nan Uamh (Cave / Rock Shelter)

Bears, Bones and Bleak Lands

There are caves here in the glen that tell an incredible a story about this landscape before and after the last glaciation.

This was a barren, empty landscape after the last ice sheet melted around 15,000 years ago. At first only mosses and lichens were able to grow on the rocky ground. Then grasses and shrubs began to colonise the land and, more animals were able to survive here. The first people appeared perhaps 8,000 years ago, hunters on the trail of reindeer and bears. We now this because we've found evidence from that period in the caves.

Scottish Polar Bear

A fragment of polar bear's skull was discovered in one cave. It's over 20,000 years old, while horse, brown bear and reindeer remains are about 14,000 years old. You can see some of the bones in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and there are replicas at the Assynt Visitor Centre, Lochinver.

High and Dry

The cave system here started to form over 20,000 years ago when water began draining into the soft Durness limestone, dissolving the rocks and widening the cracks to form caves. Glaciers later pushed through the area, carving out the glen and leaving cave opening high up the hillside. The glaciers also swept away all evidence of life outside the caves, so we're lucky inside the caves has survived.

Scotland's Long Lost Wildlife

Bear and reindeer bones were first unearthed in the caves by geologists Peach and Horne in 1889. More recent digs have revealed that the remains of other animals once roamed Scotland but are extinct now, including arctic fox, lemming, lynx, wolf and wild horse. Some bones may have been washed into the caves by the melting glaciers, but we also know that the caves were used as a handy shelter by animals, and later, by people.

Information Board Details

Dun an Sticir (Broch)

Visit Outer Hebrides

The Iron Age broch

Sometime between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, a great circular drystone tower house was built, which functioned as a well-defended family residence, and as a conspicuous demonstration of power. The walls were 3.5 metres thick walls, within which were chambers and galleries, but the only opening to the outside world was a single small doorway. The causeways were narrower than they are today, and may have included a "rocking stone", which could alert the occupants of the broch to the approach of unwelcome visitors.

A Medieval Estate

Between the 9th and 13th centuries AD the Outer Hebrides were under the overlordship of the Norsemen, who abandoned the old centres of power in favour of new sites. By the 16th century, however, Dun an Sticir had again become the centre of an important lordship. A new hall was built inside and around the old broch, and the larger middle island, the "Island of Bad Council" also contained at least one substantial building. This echoes Finlaggan on Islay, where the Lords of the Isles held council. In 1601 Dun an Sticir was the scene of dramatic events in when Hugh Macdonald was seized by his enemies and taken to his death in Skye.

This site has never been investigated: many details of the above reconstruction of the hall and other buildings, such as roofing material, are therefore conjectural.

The outer islet has been used as a secure stronghold since prehistoric times. During the Iron Age, more than 2,000 years ago, a massive galleried dun or broch was built, which would have been occupied by the local tribal chieftain. In the turbulent later Middle Ages a rectangular hall was inserted into the pre-existing circular dun, and the islands once again served as the residence and refuge of the local magnates.

Dun Aonais (Stone Fort / Dun)

Continuing towards Sollas at Ahmore on the left of the road on an island in a loch is *Dun Aonghais. This is the fort of Aonghus Fionn 'Angus the Fair' son of Donald H-Earrach who occupied it c.1520. He may have been its builder, or it may date from the Iron Age though it is of more sophisticated design than many of the Duns. It is built of dry stone and has two entrances, one of which is thought to be a 'boat entrance'. Like the majority of duns it is approached by a causeway which is now under water.

Achadh Nam Bard (Standing Stone / Menhir)

A piece of land formerly appropriated to the use of Macdonalds Bards, it is situated to the south east of Kensaleyre and is the property of Lord Macdonald. It signifies, Bards field.

Scotland's Places

Cnoc Seannda (Cairn(s))

Finlaggan and the Lordship
Recollections of a Golden Age in a Hallowed Place by Dan Casey

Loch Finlaggan, Islay
Archaeologists confirm John Michell's research
Bob Trubshaw

Cultoon (Stone Circle)

Passionate about British Heritage

David Ross

Camas an Staca (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Apart from another Iona-related chapel at Tarbert, much of the settlement activity, old and new, is in the south-east corner of the island, nearest to Islay. Here, the enormous Camas an Staca Standing Stone rises out of the peat twice the height of a man, surrounded by further rocks and outcrops which Canmore (Scotland’s inestimable archaeological database) includes two conflicting and rather confusing accounts of. The feel of the place – the lines of sight and the general atmosphere – gave me a strong feeling that Camas an Staca could be another Callanish under several thousand years of peat deposit, with the single stone still visible the monstrously high centrepiece of something far greater and more impressive. Who knows if an archaeologist may yet have time – and funding – to take a closer look. [Calanais, on the Isle of Lewis, one of the most impressive and largest stone circles and ritual landscapes in the whole of the British Isles, erected around 3000BC, was almost completely buried under 1.5m or so of peat for (at least) 1500 years, only first recorded in the early 17th century, and the peat finally all dug away to reveal it in all its glory in the mid-19th century.

David Kreps blog 2016

Cnoc Seannda (Cairn(s))

But the most surprising finds were on dry land at the loch side. A large mound overlooks the causeway to the islets and is near to a known burial ground. On arrival, the archaeologists were unanimous that this mound was a 'ritual' site, without being any more specific. Standing on this mound, a solitary standing stone (about five feet high) can be seen, beyond which (in clear weather) can be seen the famous rounded hills known as the Paps of Jura. As one of the Time team remarked, the stone in fact stands in the 'cleavage' of the Paps. In what might be a first for national TV, the assembled archaeologists all concurred that 'Yes, there is an alignment here'. Is this the breakthrough for 'ley hunting'? Academic acceptance broadcast to all the nation? Mr Watkins, what was a mere seventy years of waiting?

The Time team performed a resistivity survey on the mound, which showed various subsoil anomalies that were almost certainly not natural. The first turfs to be peeled away soon revealed mesolithic microflints - something quite unprecedented for this location. Further work led to the tops of two rows of substantial stones poking through the soil, rather like an oversize mouth of teeth. Was this a souterrain, the team debated? Before the trial excavation was concluded the remains of what was probably an ox leg had been laid bare and the consensus was that this may be a neolithic long barrow.

This in itself caused excitement as previously all known neolithic activity on Islay was around the coast. Meantime, the resistivity squad had been at work around the standing stone. At least three deep pits showed up and other ambiguous abnormalities. The culminating computer graphics showed us that these pits could make up a stone circle or, more probably, a stone avenue - with the Paps of Jura and the 'long barrow' mound in line with the axis of the avenue.

The long-running excavations on the islets had produced relatively little evidence of prehistoric activity, although the foundations of round houses had been detected below the medieval occupation of Eilean Mor. Dating evidence for these round houses was inconclusive, but it seems distinctly possible that they represent the settlement for the neolithic people who used and created the mound and stone 'avenue'.

The Time team successfully battled against what, at times, was seriously Scottish weather to produce hitherto-unsuspected evidence of prehistoric activity at an important medieval 'ritual site'. Clearly, much more work needs to be undertaken before full details are revealed and one hopes that further funding will be forthcoming.

Originally published in Mercian Mysteries No.23 May 1995.

Dun Ban (Hillfort)

Dun Ban

We have one definite prehistoric site in Knoydart - Dun Ban at Done (NG701036). The name Doune itself comes from the Gaelic word dun meaning fort, of which there are hundreds of examples throughout Scotland. Some, like Dundee, Dunkeld, Dumbarton or Dumfries, became important centre. Others, such as Doune, represent settlements that never grew beyond a cluster of families. Without excavation we have no means of dating this site, though it is likely to be Iron Age in origin and falling between the period 500BC to 500AD. It measures 74m by 49m and, like the forts in Arisaig, has a heavily vitrified wall. It occupies a strategic site on the coastline facing Sleat (Skye).

Knoydart A History by Denis Rixson

Dronley House (Artificial Mound)

Neolithic Mound

In the South-west corner of the Dronley House Wood (where the 275kV and 33kV electricity lines cross the road) there is a small mound about 26 yards across and 12 feet high with a possible encircling ditch, recently made visible from the road following the felling of some spruce to keep the wires safe. Grandfather thought this was simply a 'midden' but an archaeologist friend visiting a few years ago thought it might be a "neolithic burial mound". He noted the ditch and also claimed to see three indentations in the mound where early grave-robbers might have dug in for treasure. I foolishly mentioned this in a pub conversation to another archaeologist who worked for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland and a few months later, in 1992, I received a letter stating that the site was listed as a 'scheduled ancient monument'! In later correspondence about this "mound" I was told that there is no other reference and that my conversation was the 'sole authority' for the listing. The listing comes with a hefty raft of restrictions; be careful what you say!

Roderick Stewart
Dronley House

The monument comprises the remains of a burial monument of prehistoric date surviving as an upstanding mound in woodland.

The monument lies in woodland at around 140m OD on what would formerly have been a site commanding extensive views to the S. It comprises a grass-covered stony mound some 25m in diameter and approximately 3.5m high. It appears to represent the remains of a burial monument of probable Later Neolithic or Bronze Age date.

The area to be scheduled encompasses the mound and an area around it in which traces of associated activity may be expected to survive. It is sub-circular with a maximum diameter of 60m, limited on the S and W by existing boundaries which are not to be included in the scheduling. The area to be scheduled is marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Lady Mary's Wood (Hillfort)

This is an isolated burial in a mausoleum within the remains of an Iron Age fort, which is now densely tree covered. The mausoleum was built in parkland of Crawford Priory, which Lady Mary Lindsay had built in the early 19th century. The mausoleum was a finely-built structure, using quality sandstone ashlar masonry. It has suffered much damage in later years, with walls and the roof structure partly collapsing. The gabled porch with rounded arch doorway survives mostly intact. It is thought only Lady Mary was buried here. Crawford Priory is itself a ruin and the parkland is now mostly farm land.

J Dowling 2017
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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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