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Miscellaneous Posts by drewbhoy

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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

Slivia 1 (Hillfort)

The open-air Museum of Mt. Ermada offers a chance to discover the Austro-Hungarian defensive line fortified in September 1916 following the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo. The Italian victory had forced the Habsburg Imperial Army to abandon the high ground around Monfalcone and move to this area around the Karst surrounding Trieste. The choice of settling at Mt. Ermada and the surrounding hilltops was not random, but rather driven by strategic and practical reasons.
From here, in fact, you could control both the Valley of Brestovizza (Brestovica Dol, now part of Slovenia) and the passage to Trieste, the Habsburg town claimed by the Italians. The sinkholes, the passages between the rocks and the natural caves of the Karst Plateau perfectly adapted to the needs of the Great War. Trenches, observation posts and housing for soldiers were built in no time, practically creating an insurmountable barrier for the Italians. All assaults of the Third Army between the Eighth and Tenth Battle of the Isonzo were indeed rejected despite the lower number of Austro-Hungarian soldiers.

Open-air Museum of Mt. Ermada

(From here you can see almost all of the Karst Forts which the Austro Hungarians used.)

Castle of Slivia I

From the centre of the village you can see the first of the two castles of Slivia, and reach it by following path no. 47 which runs through meadows dedicated to hay production. The summit, located at 199 m above sea level, is surrounded by an imposing wall, up to 5 meters high, characterized by the presence of a passage. The inner circle, circular, was further defended by another semi-circular outer structure. The chateau was widely used, from 1500 to 400 BC. The stones nowadays scattered in confusing times are most likely due to both the perimeter wall and the protostorical buildings that found space inside the inner shelves. Scary remains demonstrate how the castle was frequented sporadically even in Roman times.

The strategic importance of the altitude for the control of the surrounding area has also been noted in a much recent era: on the northeast side are still visible the shacks and trenches excavated to protect Mount Ermada during World War I. The castles for the grandeur of the remains and for the goodness of the research conducted here has been titled to the greatest local scholar of the castles: Carlo Marchesetti

Castelliere di Slivia I - Percorsi in Provincia di Trieste

Rupinpiccolo (Hillfort)

Rupinpiccolo Castle

The castle's outer wall is 240 meters long and is distinguished by the presence of two access roads. The imposing remains of the walls led the local Superintendence to restore the site in view of its importance. The originally elliptical profile of the castle wall is now interrupted in its western part from the underlying quarry, but from the section it still perceives the robustness of the enclosure formed by a drywall wall, with the outer skirts formed by large limestone blocks and the internal filling made up of stones and earth, to give greater stability to the structure. The castellary had a purely defensive function and control of the territory: they are almost all places on the hills that enjoy a great view on the surrounding area and generally succeed in seeing each other, letting them think that in the era of for which the Second Millennium BC was used, there was a kind of network of reports between a castler and the other, so as to form a true line of defense.

Castelliere di Rupinpiccolo - Percorsi in Provincia di Trieste

Toe Head (Broch)

The headland was also an important landmark over 2,000 years ago, as it was the site of a 'broch' a large and impressive tower of two or three storeys that served as an Iron Age chieftain's residence. All that now remains is the circular foundation course, partly build over by the chapel. All of its other stonework has been removed, probably re-used in the construction of the nearby buildings including the chapel. One or more possible lines of enclosure on the landward side across the narrowest part of the promontory may also been part of the defensive strategy.

In earlier prehistoric times, up to 5,000 years ago, people left enigmatic 'cup marks' (small circular depressions) on the rocky ledges of the headland. 500 metres along the shore are the eroding remains of their settlements, which had been occupied periodically since the time of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

Notice Board at site.

Leckie (Broch)

Some of the background to the site.

Knockandu Church/Knowehillock (Stone Circle)

There is no trace of this stone circle in a re-afforested area. There is no knowledge at Carron House of the stone which went there in the early 20th century, but the minister of Knockando parish church (Information from R Prentice, The Manse, Knockando) believes that one of the grave stones in the Grants of Carron burial enclosure known as "The Elchies Tomb", in the churchyard, came from the stone circle. There are two erect monoliths in the enclosure, one inscribed with the date 1934, and the other with the date 1940; it is possible that one of them is the stone which originally went to Carron House.


(one problem with this, there are three.)

Glen Wood (Cairn(s))

Archaeological notes
NO66SE 2 6778 6227. (Name: NO 678 622) Three Laws (NR), Cist, Skeletons, Urn & Ring found (NAT). OS 6" map, (1959) The three 'Law of Logie' were three mounds, two of which had been dug into for sand and gravel by 1793. One contained a cist with a complete skeleton. 'The second Law was found to contain four human skeletons, deposited only at about a foot depth from the surface ... and at a little distance from these was found a beautiful ring, supposed to be of ebony, as black as jet, of a fine polish and in perfect preservation. This ring, which the minister of the parish has in his custody, is of circular form, flat in the inside and rounded without; its circum- ference is about 12 inches and diameter 4. The thickness of its rim in the middle is more than half an inch, and its greatest breadth about an inch and a half, which diminishes in gradual proportion till it is only about 1/4 of an inch.' At a depth of about 4' what was obviously a cinerary urn lying on its side was found at 6' were 'several cavities.' The third and largest of the three Laws was still intact 'near circular, with a sort of fosse round it, filled up with round stones, intermingled with pieces of glass.' OSA 1793. The sites of two of the mounds (B and C) are occupied by old gravel pits. The third appears to be a possible saucer-cairn and lies a little to the north, on the summit of rising ground. It is a circular enclosure very slightly raised in the centre, and surrounded by a shallow ditch and outer bank of earth and stones. This bank is 3.8m broad and generally 0.7m high except on the SW where it is 1.2m high as the ground dips into a slight hollow. The ditch is 3.2m wide and 0.3m deep. Across the bank it measures 36.0m in diameter. Dense undergrowth and fallen trees within the wood made detailed examination difficult. Visited by OS (J L D) 25 June 1958. The survivor ('A') of the 'Three Laws', on a rise, has recently been cleared of trees and scrub and mutilated by bulldozers crossing it, and is in poor condition. It consists of a fairly level circular area with a slight internal rise, c.20.0m in diameter surrounded by a ditch c.2.0m wide and 0.4m average depth with an outer bank of rubble stones on it rim c.3.5m wide and 0.4m average height, best preserved in the N arc. The interior is featureless, except for a mutilation in the N arc where a hole has been dug in the ditch to reveal the rubble infill mentioned in OSA, and the considerable stone content of the interior area, revealed by probing. No entrance is evident. The site appears to be a saucer-cairn with Wessex affinities.

Scotland's Places.
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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 on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

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