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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House Of The Fairies (Souterrain)

In 1844 a souterrain was discovered, known to the islanders as the House Of Fairies. It consists of a lintelled passage, some 9m long with at least one known lateral branch. The stones used in its construction are large, with massive walls converging towards to the top to accommodate the lintels. The structure which has been excavated numerous times since 1844 with finds giving a suggested date back to the first or early second millennium AD. A few decorated potsherds are similar to standard Iron Age finds uncovered elsewhere in the Western Isles.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Dun Bharabhat (Stone Fort / Dun)

The broch or galleried dun is on a small islet in Loch Bharabhat. The approach is a 600m walk from the road (B8059) into Bernera, crossing over the bridge into the island from the Lewis mainland. Accessibility but worthwhile. The dun was robbed early last century to build a sheep dipping tank, but sufficient remains to the site one of great interest. Dun Bhatabhat is an 'island dun', a defensive structure built on a small island with a 33m long causeway approach; it is one of a number of such structures to be found in the Western Isles.

Recent excavations have produced some surprises. Far from being the simple (i.e. solid walled) dun as recorded much earlier this century, it has features akin to a broch. One radio carbon date suggests 650BC for a primary structure and another, around 100BC, indicates a secondary occupation before abandonment. What is interesting about these dates is that they are earlier than the dating plan suggested for duns on the Scottish Atlantic coast.

The dun once had a double set of walls, like a broch, with a stair case in one intra mural gallery. At some time in the dun's history there w2as a second structure outside its walls which now lies in the waters of Loch Bharabhat. This has proved to be an excellent time capsule from which various objects have been recovered, pieces of heather rope, animal bones and straw, all of which have to be correctly assessed and placed in an appropriate time context.

The whole site is of interest because the underwater excavation complements the work being carried out on the land based dun and is the first time the two techniques have been used hand in hand.

About one quarter of the dun wall still survives to a height of 3m and is about 2.4m thick. A lower gallery is visible with a chamber at intermediate height.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Loch an Dun (Stone Fort / Dun)

This site is in Loch an Dun, near Lower Bayble on the Eye Peninsula. However impressive it might have been in its day, it is now in a completely ruinous state, being roughly a circular mass of stone. The site is connected to the mainland by a man-made causeway about 1m wide. Some imagination is need to identify parts of the dun's outward wall, close to the water level, which seems to have been solid rather than galleried.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Dun Bharclin (Stone Fort / Dun)

This site, known as Dun Bharclin on the OS map, is rather inaccessible, being on a small islet just south of Risay Island in Loch Luirbost. The dun seems to have consisted of walls built round the edge of the islet but which are now a mass of tumbled stone, 4m broad in places. A 1914 report on the site stated that many stones has been removed to Stornaway for building purposes.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Shawbost (Promontory Fort)

This promontory juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and is well placed for a defensive structure with outlooks to both north and south. It is joined to Lewis mainland by a narrow neck of land across which a massive stone wall has been erected, the stones of which are now a tumbled mass spread over an area which is nearly 9m wide in places, indicating the original strength of the structure. The entrance to the promontory was at the south end of the wall at a wide gap between the wall end and the cliff edge.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Garrabost (Kerbed Cairn)

This site is now a setting of seven kerbstones lying in a circle some 20m in diameter. The possible remains of the chamber consist of four large slabs and what could be a fallen capstone. The whole site has been badly robbed of its original material but is well worth a visit if only to appreciate the location of the monument and its setting.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Carn A' Mharc (Chambered Cairn)

This site is about 3km north west of Gress Lodge and described on the OS map as 'Carn a' Mharc'. It has been suggested that the site was levelled artificially in ancient times. The cairn itself consists of a mound of stones roughly 28m in diameter, with a kerb of boulders still discernible on the south-west edge. Some large slabs close by may have been part of the chamber and an entrance passage.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Dunan (Chambered Cairn)

This ruin is to the east of Aonghas Bridge and marked on the OS map as 'Dunan'. Hardly 1m above the ground, it is about 15m in diameter. Like many of its kind in the island it has been both disturbed and robbed. But enough survives to show a roughly circular chamber about 2m in diameter. A couple of large slabs may be part of the original roofing. Trying to identify an entrance passage is a more than difficult task but some large slabs and boulders on the south-west may give a clue to its former position.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Caisteal Mhic Creacail (Chambered Cairn)

This site is a scattered heap of stones overlooking Broad Bay. It is listed as a chambered cairn on account of the remains of erect stones with a broken capstone. On the OS map the site is called Caisteal Mhic Creacail, suggesting an ancient castle or fortification, or perhaps a later attempt to restore the site to create a defensive structure.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.

Clach Stei Lin (Stone Circle)

This is a 1.5m high standing stone, but is not entirely alone. A survey of the site carried out in 1914 identified a number of prostrate stones, some lying underneath a covering of peat, giving the impression that they were overthrown standing stones and probably part of an original circle.

'Lewis & Harris, History and Pre-history' by Francis Thompson.

Davie's Castle (Hillfort)

'The green track ahead brings us to commercial forestry and forges dead straight ahead for a couple of miles. Half a mile along is a second wonder. We plunge off road to our second fortress of the day - Davie's Castle. A glacial tummock above the Glen Burn was fortified (in the Iron Age - say 2500 years ago) - defended with a circuit of ditch and a low bank (originally topped with a wall or palisade). Not a major hillfort but a suitable place for a petty chief to asset status among his own dependants and to proclaim power to his envious neighbours.'

John Barrett Knock News - No. 112 June 2106.

Dundee Law (Hillfort)

the Law was the site of a vitrified hillfort probably occupied during the Bronze Age. Remains of a settlement were found where the road was built to the top of The Law in the 1920s. Over the centuries it has been occupied by the Picts and Scots.

Old Dundee (postcards of Dundee) by Andrew Cronshaw.

Cothiemuir Wood (Stone Circle)

Cothiemuir Hill - Aberdeenshire

Cothiemuir Hill natural burial ground is located on the Forbes Estate in rural Aberdeenshire and is rich in wildlife, history and heritage.

Lying at the western end of the Lord Throat's road, the ancient wooded hill rises from verdant land, through a belt of deciduous mixed woodland including Scots Pine, to a Neolithic stone circle that crowns it crest. Flanking the hill, beneath the slopes of Bennachie, newly planted trees shelter the burial glades. here, plots for natural burial or the internment of ashes can be reserved, giving mourners the space to connect with nature, and more importantly the people buried there.

From the pamphlet advertising natural burials.

(also a couple of nice photos of the stone circle)

Lord Arthur's Hill (Cairn(s))

This is also a name of a Scottish Reel (fiddle music) written in G Major. Composed by Alexander Walker it is part of the 'A Collection of Strathspeys, Reels and Marches' published in 1866.

Summerhouse Hill (Round Cairn)

In 1935 Yealand archaeologist Colonel Oliver North carried out a survey of the site. He plotted the position of 6 limestone boulders and demonstrated that 4 of them were on the circumference of a circle 460 feet in diameter. He also noted depressions in the ground which might have housed other stones from the circle. Two remaining stones could conceivably have formed part of an outer ring, and were both about 330 feet from the centre of the supposed monument. Colonel North detected what he thought might be a large ditch on the north-western side of the circle. And he speculated that some of the large stones used as foundations for the Rawlinson summerhouse might have been pillaged from the stone circle. Others have suggested that summerhouse was itself built upon a cairn.

There has never been an archaeological dig on the site and some experts are not convinced that the stones are anything other than lime-stone boulders randomly deposited by a retreating glacier. But Summerhouse Hill is an atmospheric place.

Leighton Moss Ice Age To Present Day by Andy Denwood (Published 2014)

Barrow Hill (Kerbed Cairn)

There are a few other reasons to suggest that Summerhouse Hill was special to the people who lived around Leighton Moss. A few hundred yards to the south east, down the slope towards the metalled road on Peter Hill, are the remains of a round kerbed cairn.

Set among the trees and difficult to spot at first, the cairn is less than 2 feet high but 40 feet across. It has a noticeable circular dent in its top where it was opened up more than 200m years ago. The celebrated London physician and sometime amateur antiquarian John Coakley Lettsom witness the excavation of the burial site in 1778.

Lettsom was a Quaker and the founder of the Medical Society of London. He was also a regular visitor at the home of Thomas Rawlinson, the Yealand merchant and shipowner. In an address to the Society of Antiquaries of London, Lettsom declared that on opening the cairn he had discovered 'an urn containing between 3 and 4 quarts of human bones' and 'a human skeleton, and a large glass bead of a blue colour above an inch in diameter'.

Sadly no trace remains of the bones or bead. And while the Bronze Age beaker sat for many years on a shelf at nearby Yealand Manor, local gossip has it that it was broken and thrown away by a superstitious house-maid. Interestingly, in his talk to fellow antiquarians Lettsom said that his dig took place on Barrow Hill - an old name for Summerhouse Hill - where there were 'many barrows of earth and stone'. And he added that since his own excavation other barrows had been opened and many human bones found.

Leighton Moss Ice Age To Present Day by Andy Denwood (Published 2014)

Dog Holes Cave (Cave / Rock Shelter)

A short walk south-west from Summerhouse Hill is the highest point overlooking the moss. Warton Crag is 530 feet above sea level and here too there's evidence of early human settlement. A cave called the Dog Holes was excavated between 1909 and 1913 by the Manchester Museum curator J. W. Jackson. His work showed that it had been lived in from Neolithic times, through the Iron Age to Roman times. Jackson unearthed human and animal bones as well as Roman and pre-Roman pottery fragments and jewellery. He also discovered lumps of iron slag which suggested that early residents may have been smelting iron ore that had been mined locally.

Leighton Moss Ice Age To Present Day by Andy Denwood (Published 2014)

Warton Crag (Hillfort)

The summit of the Crag has a commanding view over Morecambe Bay and vessels approaching the sea entrance to Leighton Moss could be spotted immediately from here. On the northern and eastern sides of the summit - and really difficult to make out - are the remains of three stone-built ramparts which make up a small fort. Thought for a long time to be Iron Age, archaeologists more recently have been divided about it's origins. Some have suggested it could be older - perhaps Neolithic or Bronze Age - while others have noted a similarity with post-Roman defensive settlements elsewhere in Britain. As with Summerhouse Hill, eighteenth-century antiquarians report the excavation of burial mounds on the skirts of Warton Crag' in which human remains and earthenware beakers were found.

Walking around the moss and exploring the surrounding hills, the impression gained is that this was an important area for prehistoric peoples. The woods, the marshy fringes of the bay and the seashore itself were clearly valuable sources of food and materials.

The hills provided sites to bury their dead and possibly somewhere where religious ceremonies and celebrations were held. The summit of Warton Crag meanwhile has been a safe haven for many generations of local people: a look-out post to spot the arrival of threatening newcomers and a fortress to retreat into in the event of attack.

Leighton Moss Ice Age To Present Day by Andy Denwood (Published 2014)

Greece (Country)

An article summarising recently published work on hominins in Greece, suggesting reasons for lack of finds from the early Palaeolithic: climate change, tectonic activity, and sea level rises.

Stonehenge (Circle henge)

Very important picture of Stonehenge.

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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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