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Fieldnotes by strathspey

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Carn Liath (Long Cairn)

Well, I eventually got back to this site this afternoon - hoping in vane for a slight covering of snow or frost.

The strange little artificial flower arrangement was still there - or the remnants. No new funerary offerings to be seen.

I've added some new photos. Different light today highlighted different features.

My first post for some considerable time....

Newmore Wood Cairn (Cairn(s))

Had a walk up to the cairn last weekend (first time in a few years). Surprised to see some disturbance around the remaining circumference. Material doesn’t appear to have been removed but its certainly been moved quite significantly and then replaced again. No sign of vehicles but significant effort would have been needed.

Kings Head Kinrive wood (Chambered Cairn)

This is a rather splendid example of an Orkney-Cromarty chambered cairn.

Situated in mature birch woodlands about 1/4 mile west of Kinrive West long cairn, first impressions are wow!

There is a real impression of scale and size. Although the body of the cairn is long since gone, the outer circumference is visible in its entirety. This serves to frame the remaining huge and regularly shaped chamber stones.

Unfortunately these remaining stones are in such a jumble it was difficult for my untrained eye to put some order to what I was seeing. I was actually quite content just to sit on a tree trunk and enjoy the very positive feeling these massive stones exemplify in a very special setting.

Theres a very well preserved cist in the NW quarter.

Access is relatively easy, if a little damp underfoot.

Visited Fri 23rd Sept 2011

Kinrive East (Long Cairn)

This is Kinrive Wests' wee brother. This cairn is as short as the West cairn is long.

Only about 40ft long by 20ft wide, lying about 150ft east of its big brother, and sitting on a more east -west axis. To be honest it doesnt look like a long cairn.

The major part of the western section of the cairn has been robbed out but the eastern part is virtually intact.

There are 3 grave markers atop little mounds on the cairn - farm pets judging by the inscriptions. a bit weird and surreal seeing the cairn still being used for its original purpose.......!

A large and recently placed pile of stones on top of the cairn had my imagination working overtime - no grave marker though!

Kinrive West (Long Cairn)

This cairn - the 1st of 3 that I visited this day is only about 3 miles from my front door and its taken me 2 years to get round to visiting it.

The term long cairn could have been invented to describe this rather large monument. It is in excess of 200ft long running roughly east-west and about a uniform 45ft wide. Due to the slope of the hill it is about 3-4m tall on the lower edge and about 1m tall on the upper edge.

The cairn lies at the lower edge of cultivated upland pasture which is surrounded by mature birch woodland. The surrounding fields are full of regular shaped lumps and bumps (and sheep) - some of which are described on the FC info board which sits on a plinth just below the cairn.

With the exception of some robber holes, the cairn looks virtually intact to me ( which is a bit of a surprise given the almost total destruction of the nearby Kings Head cairn) although there are no signs of any horns. There are some enormous (clearance) stones on the northern flank. I couldnt see any sign of the stone wall mentioned in Canmore.

I know (from Henshall) that the RCAHMS has done extensive field surveys on this hillside. I would love to see the results.

I spoke to one of the lads who farms here. He said he has never been asked before about the cairns- he only sees the occasional mountain biker who uses the road to access the hilltops and tracks over the hill into Strathrory and the Struie .The FC info board was built years ago - shame that no-one sees it.

Site visited Fri 23rd Sept 2011

Ardoch (Cup Marked Stone)

Nice stone this - remembered it from Brac - sitting earthfast all on its own on the edge of a field. Loads of prehistory in this glen - but no other known rock art.

Theres some intriguing lines and marks in the pics that I didnt see by eye.

This is one of many prehistory sites on the road to the Boath Cairns and is an easy 20 minute walk from the road.

Visited 22nd Sept 11.

Carn Liath (Long Cairn)

As usual I left this monument with more questions than answers!

After a tremendous 5 mile walk through Forestry Commission tracks and some easy OS navigation, this Scheduled Cairn was one that I've wanted to visit for a while.

Lying on an elevated platform in the Morangie Forest, its certainly in a quiet and peaceful spot. A wee bit of a climb from the track through fairly open pine woods leads to this impressive Long Cairn opening out nicely as you puff and pant upwards.

The extant of this monument is fairly impressive. It maintains a regular height/length/breadth throughout. The body of the Cairn is interspersed with at least 15 large,deep and uniform (robber?) holes.

There is also the remains of a very old building wall disecting part of the cairn about midway down its length. Strangely (from my limited knowledge) there is no evidence of this building anywhere else on the cairn. The cairn maintains its shape throughout. What kind of building it could have been on such an elevated slope is a mystery - Although there are the remains of 2 Historic townships and field systems on the floor of the Glen not very far away.

But the strangest mystery to me was a little bunch of (very old) artificial flowers sitting in a little oasis atop the highest part of the monument - it was one of those "what the.......? moments. So totally out of place, I'm still wondering who would have put them there and why.

Forestry Commission plantations seem almost timeless and its easy to forget that up until fairly recently land-use in many of these remote Glens was totally different. These Glens were once the home and workplaces of many families.

But there is something about this cairn that seems to cross the ages. Difficult for me to put into words, but my impression of this Cairn was that it meant something to people until fairly recently.

With every Cairn I visit, I feel I learn a little more, BUT, I also feel there is even more I dont understand!!

Lamington Park Long Cairn

First Cairn hunting trip in a while and well worth it too. There are 3 Cairns in this area that I want to see and this looked the easiest to reach in the time available today
Situated on an elevated, relatively flat area on the SE slopes of Bearn a Chlaidheimh amongst dense 20-25 year old pines, its a bit difficult to find until you are right on it. Unfortunately the closest Forestry track is a good walk from the monument and is badly overgrown. Scotsburn East Chambered Cairn is about 2 miles along the same slope to the West.

First impression is wow! A very tall monument siiting on a flat area which Canmore describes as being constructed atop a natural mound. Must say I disagree. The "mound" is completely out of character in the surrounding hillside and is the same shape/form you would expect from a large Long or even Chambered Cairn.

The cairn/mound is aligned about 30 - 40m in a NNE/SSW direction - a bit vague I know, but difficult to tell given the dense tree growth and no compass. All 4 heather-clad sides are of a uniform slope maybe less steep on the NE side.

Exposed stones are only visible on the top of the Cairn. Interestingly I think that the stones look as if they have collapsed inwards into the jumble now visible, rather than be a pile of disorganised rubble left after robbing for its stone. There is a definate general shallow depression in the exposed stones running along the axis of the Cairn. There is also lots of space visible beneath all the exposed stonework. It just doesnt look like the top of a Long Cairn such as at Boath where the stones are tightly packed together. I'm probably totally wrong!!

Because of its setting and the uniformity of its structure and appearance, this was a very satisfying monument to visit (tempered with lots of questions as to its construction and other peoples interpretation thereof - I'd love to have talked to Audrey Henshall about it!)

Newmore Wood (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

The Highland Councils' Environment Record is a great resource for unearthing little gems like this - far superior and much more user friendly than Canmore.

This small stone has been displaced by recent Forestry Thinning and lies approx 10m East of the car park for Inchindown Wood on the North Side of the Scotsburn road.

The cup mark was clearly visible, but I only noticed the ring when I downloaded the photo.

Newmore Wood Cairn (Cairn(s))

This Cairn does not seem to have an official name which is a shame as its been a very substantial monument and it still dominates its immediate surroundings.

Access is easy - from the Inchindown Forestry Commission Car park on the Scotsburn road look North and there it is, about 200m away.

It has been thoroughly robbed, but what remains gives a clear indication as to what once was.

First, what remains? Well, virtually all of one quarter of the circumference on the SE side. The outer stonework is undisturbed and consists of small stone with a mossy covering. This is approx 5m in height from its base up to the top level of stonework - the base being on the downslope of a slight hill.
There is a huge boulder (about 2m x 1m x 1m)lying on the top of one section - it looks entirely out of place and lord knows how it got there.

The entire centre of the cairn has been robbed out and what remains is covered in ferns with no larger stones visible..

There are 2 things that strike me about this site.

1. This cairn is situated very close to the valley floor. Nearly all the local cairns are sited well upslope on hill and mountainsides. This is probably due to changing land use over the centuries - all lower lying cairns have been lost to agriculture ?

2.Its Height. It must have been enormous. What remains gives a good indication of scale. When you stand in the centre of the robbed out centre, the top of the remaining section is at least 1 -2m above headlevel, not forgetting the existing summit will be considerably lower now, than it was when it was built.

Although incomplete, this is a good site to visit due to its accessibility. Theres also a cup and ring marked stone 20m from the car park!

Visited 10th Dec 2009

Scotsburn Wood East (Cairn(s))

Much more difficult to find than I first thought it would be (a look on Google Earth before setting out would save a lot of time! - the clearing can be quite clearly seen).

Set in a steep elevated forest clearing on the slopes of Bearn a Chlaidheimh, this Scheduled site has an awe- inspiring panoramic vista - from the mountains west of Dingwall to Burghead on the east Coast. How this would have looked a few thousand years ago gives food for thought.

I hiked through Forestry plantation from the cairn at Scotsburn wood West almost diagonally NE across the steep hill slope for approx 750m. through/over/under timber thinnings. With hindsite, a much less demanding route would have been to use the numerous forestry tracks which originate about 2 miles east on the Scotsburn road.

The effort in getting here was definately worth it.
Much of the cairn remains, although the central chamber has long since collapsed, the main portal stones are still visible.
There are a large number of flat, regular sized stones and a number of depressions visible within the cairn. There is also a huge amount of smaller stones throughout the site.

There is a smaller cairn about 250m SE(Unscheduled). This is much smaller and has been damaged by a forestry track which intersects the southern section of the Cairn. Again, there are a few large regular sized stones within an area of much smaller stone.

There are at least 6 known Chambered cairns within Scotsburn Wood (2 Scheduled).I am sure there are more - at least one is cut through by the Drove Rd skirting the southern edge of the forestry plantation.

Great exercise !! Bit Baltic though!!

Visited 3rd Dec 09

Scotsburn Wood West (Chambered Cairn)

Visited this site on my way to Scotsburn Wood East and felt a wee bit disappointed. The entire site has gained a good covering of ferns and heather since Greyweathers visit in 2004 and individual stones are difficult to see. Virtually all the remaining stones are hidden by ferns and this gives the main (and only) indication as to the stones' positions.
Visited 3rd Dec09

Scotsburn House, Cairnfield and Hut Circle (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

I reached this site from Dalnaclach at the southern end of the Strathrory Drove road.
It takes about an hour and a half of fairly strenuous hiking through some very steep,wet and muddy track to find this desolate spot.
The Drove road is a Right of Way with waymarkers and is relatively easy to follow but strong waterproof footwear is an absolute must and I wouldnt recommend this in bad weather - its very isolated with no Mobile signal. There is no human habitation within sight or sound of this section of Strathrory - brilliant!!

The cairnfield lies just beyond the semi-derelict crofthouse of Coag in a relatively flat section of land punctuated by numerous low level ridges. The whole site surrounded by conifer clad hills.

Evidence of Ancient human occupation and land use is all around. There are cairns of all sizes, shape and description. Some are obvious, others less so. There are some unusually shaped and isolated single stones all over the higher ridges interspersed with small conifers.
The entire area has regular circular and straight lines of stone on both the higher and low lying areas all of which deserve a close look.
Unfortunately, my camera gave up the ghost after a couple of shots (memory card error). The weather was foul and the days are very short so I couldnt really hang about, but this site deserves a complete day (preferably in July)

My intention was to have a look at the incomplete Iron Age Fort of Cnoc an Duin which overlooks the western part of this site.
One look at the steepness of the slope, the sleet and the gale force wind were enough to deter me this day.

Site visited 1st Dec 09

Cnoc Ducharie (Cairn(s))

This cairn is situated an a hillside, approx 1/2 mile from the Boath road, by a forestry track.
The entire cairn is covered in a thick layer of heather and ferns and stones are very difficult to see - unless you fall off one!
There is a very deep depression (about 1.5m) close to the centre with a large flat stone lying 3-4m away.
A 2nd cairn apparently lies a short distance to the North, but I couldnt see it.
Visited 23rd Nov09

Dalreoch Wood (Cairn(s))

This relatively small cairn has been heavily robbed out and unfortunately has suffered damage by forestry thinning operations fairly recently (makes a bit of a nonsense of its Scheduled Status).
Access is pretty easy, the cairn lying on the crest of a small hill within a pine plantation about 100m from a forestry track.(Although the "Danger Archery" sign and the forbidding feel of the thick conifer plantation give it a bit of a "Deliverance" feel!
The cairn consists of an almost complete circle of outer kerb stones which are just visible beneath a mossy covering. One section of this has been damaged by a forestry vehicle.
The central cairn is a large mound approx 1m tall with no individual stones visible beneath the moss.
There is a large depression on the SE side between the central cairn and the outer kerb stones.
The mature conifers growing through the entire cairn look a wee bit out of place!!
Visited 23rd Nov09

Carn na Croiche (Chambered Cairn)

This Scheduled Monument is actually quite difficult to find in the heavily afforested slopes of Cnoc Navie.

Enter the plantation from the Scotsburn road and follow a forestry Commission track around the southern slopes until it comes to an abrupt end. (The last mile of the track is not shown on the latest OS map).

Directly uphill and North of the tracks end is an old dry stone dyke. Follow this steeply uphill through very rough terrain until you are on the western spur of the summit of Cnoc Navie.

The remains of Carn na Croich lie about 200m west in a small clearing surrounded by Pines of varying maturity.

The monument has been well robbed out (dry stone dykes!!) but the outer circumference of the cairn can be easily seen.

The central chamber depression can be seen but individual stones are difficult to see due to a deep covering of moss and heather.

Its isolation in a very quiet, atmospheric and secluded spot makes this a worthwhile site to visit.

Its also a cracking walk through some excellent Pine, Larch and Birch woodlands - but be warned, its virtually all uphill.
I grew up in the central Highlands surrounded by the past and listening to stories of the past.

I have worked my whole life on the sea - I now have a real obsession to get away from it!!! The sea in my blood?? ......... b....cks!!
My passions are the wild and remote hills, glens and mountainsides of the Scottish Highlands. Mix in my dog, boots, an OS map and prehistory - Heaven!!

Not for me the potted History of Scotland AD....... nae interested. The mysteries of the peoples who populated these shores BC?.... now you've got me.

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