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

Fieldnotes by thelonious

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Deuchny Wood (Hillfort)

05/05/2019 - Big car park to the west (NO14462366). This area looks popular for locals. Lots of signposted walks. We took the track east to near the hillfort then just a little climb to the top. The walk's nice enough, lots of lovely trees to look at and a nice time of year to visit. Everything is starting to look very green. The hillfort covers a fair sized area but there isn't much to see. One really just for the hillfort addicts. Views are good though from it.

The walk from the same car park to Kinnoull Hill to the west is better and worth doing as well if you happen to visit. Also to the south east the gothic looking Binnhill Tower is good on Bin Hill.

King's Seat (Cairn(s))

04/05/2019 - 10 years since my last visit! Too long as it's a fine cairn in a lovely location.

Little Dunsinane (Broch)

04/05/2019 – This place has been in the back of my mind for ages. I visited Dunsinane Hill and King’s Seat cairn 10 years back. I completely missed the broch. Only noticed it on the map when I got home. Finally decided to make the trip down to have a look.

Parking for 3-4 cars at the bend in the road south of Collace (NO 20703212). Short steepish walk up to Dunsinane Hill of Shakespeare’s Macbeth fame - “I will not be afraid of death and bane, Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane”. The hillfort is very good and there are a couple of cup marked stones here as well (if you can find them!).

Up and down to cross Black Hill and then a little heather bash to Little Dunsinane, a small knoll and the site of the broch. Easy enough walking though my knee’s bad at the moment so it grumped a bit.

From Canmore’s description, I hoped for some walls and features but it’s very overgrown so there’s little to see. Just the odd stone poking through the heather. The knoll is nice and a fine place for a brew and a rest. Views north are lovely to the big hills. We were lucky with the weather, sunny for most of the today, wind was a bit chilly though.

After a sit we made our way up to King’s Seat to say hello to the cairn and then looped back to the start via Buttergask Hill and Balmalcolm cup marked stone (NO 21543 32284).

A good day out with plenty to see and nice walking. Great to finally get to the broch after so many years.

Castle Spynie (Broch)

13/04/2019 - Easiest way to this site is from the road to the east and south. To link this up with the other two hillforts to the west turns an OKish walk into a bit of a prehistory orienteering course.

We started from the west at Belladrum. Good parking at the track entrance. Using this track for as long as we could, we then went off road to climb Cnoc an Uird. Tough going. Then north east to Castle Spynie. Better underfoot here. Nice walking in open woodland.

I really liked this one. Once thought of as a broch but probably a dun. It's not the biggest but it's on a fine little knoll. Plenty of stones everywhere. The location is lovely amongst the trees. A little bit secretive. Nice place for a sit on a sunny day.

We then headed back west to visit the two hillforts, Phoineas and Dun Mor. Tricky walk between them. Lots of tracks but none really going in the direction we wanted. Bash, bash and a bit more bash, not to mention a deer fence as well. All good fun (sort of).

It all made for a great walk and a lovely day out with Drew, Mrs Drew & Bess. Even had a ice cream in Beauly to finish off with, felt a bit like summer apart from the chilly wind.

Tarradale (Chambered Cairn)

13/04/2019 – Day trip to Beauly. On the way Drew, our excellent tour guide for the day, mentioned we would be visiting a chambered cairn at Tarradale. I’d never heard of this one, it’s not on the OS map and Canmore’s description is pretty much nothing. I guessed it was just going to be a couple of stones and use your imagination job. How wrong was I going to be!

After a nice stop just to the south to view Redcastle crannog in the Beauly Firth (Drew had thoughtfully arranged a low tide for us so the crannog was showing well) we made our way here. Good parking at the start of the track to Hughston. It’s a pleasant walk, first along the track then bearing west through a lovely open wood to the chambered cairn. It’s situated on a small hillock just inside the wood. No access problems.

I was really taken with this one. There is so much going on here. Lots of good size stones. What looked like multiple chambers. The main one is great, formed by some really nice stones. The view from it is a little tricky because of the trees but it does look a very good location.

It was a perfect day to visit. The sunshine filtering through the trees lit up the whole scene. It really gave a magical feel to the place. A must visit site if you are in the area.

The sort of place that reminds me why we love searching out the old stuff in our free time. Just a brilliant visit, thanks to Drew for finding it.

Great Burney (Cairn(s))

22/03/2019 – We started our walk at Kirkby-in-Furness. Heading over Kirkby Moor, visiting the enclosure and cairn there. Over the high point at Lowick High Common, we dropped down to cross the A5092 to visit the two tops on Great Burney. Luckily these couple of cairns between them make for a nice bonus to the walk. After that we headed back passed Kirkby Slate quarries to our start point in Kirkby-in-Furness. A very nice day out and easy enough walking underfoot. Turbines don’t really detract (just in case you have an allergy to them). Quarry’s a bit brutal up close though.

The northerly of the two cairns marked on the OS map is in a great location. Good view all round. It’s in poor condition now. Shame as it looks to have been a good one back in the day. The cairn to the south is pretty much gone. You can just about trace the raised outline of it in the short grass.

Kirkby Moor (Cairn(s))

22/03/2019 – About 300m north of The Kirk, there is a pretty decent round cairn. It’s a bit trashed in the middle but there’s a cist showing. A good overall size. The location is nice with lovely views down to Duddon Sands.

The Kirk (Stone Circle)

22/03/2019 – The weather didn’t look too bad for the day so we decided to head off for a walk on Kirby Moor. Starting from Kirkby-in-Furness train station, it’s a nice walk through Beck Side and then up the footpath alongside Gill House Beck. ‘The Kirk’ is easy enough to find in the open moorland.

‘The Kirk’ had intrigued me beforehand. The OS 1:50000 has it as an enclosure, the OS 1:25000 marks it as a stone circle. Pastscape says Bronze Age embanked stone circle or ring cairn. Sounded like it could be anything.

I’ll put up a few photos of the site. Looking at them there doesn’t look a lot to see. Stone wise there isn’t really. What’s there is a well-defined large circular embankment. The bank is wide and seems to be made up of small loose stones in the sections you can see, through the grass/heather. The embankment is about 20m in diameter. There are a few larger stones showing that hint of an interior edge to the ring. Nothing that screams standing stone or stone circle. My money would be on ring cairn.

Just to the north of the embankment are what look like pairs of upright stones. 2 or 3 sets that hint of a stone row leading to or away from the site.

Well worth a visit to this mystery on the moor. Nice walk plus the cairn just north is very good.

Sunkenkirk (Stone Circle)

21/03/2019 – This was our third attempt to visit Swinside in as many years. The last two were thwarted by bad weather and then a train strike. Today I felt lucky so off we went.

I really wanted to combine a visit to the circle with a walk up and over Black Combe as it looked a good day out on the map and a fine approach to Swinside.

Early train from Barrow-in-Furness to Silecroft. The train journey along the coast here is lovely. There’s a good path from here that heads pretty much straight up Black Combe to the trigpoint at the summit. Cloud base wasn’t great in the morning so the last 200m gain was a bit rubbish for visibility. I do like walking in the mist though, it gives the hill a lonely feeling which I quite like. Very quiet and away from it all. After a brew at the trig we made our way across the top north-ish to Swinside about 2 miles away. The clouds soon lifted to give us some proper lovely views of the surrounding countryside. Black Combe is a really fine walk and pretty easy going once you have made the climb up to the top.

Skirting round Raven Crag we passed Swinside Farm to make our final approach to the circle. I like it when we walk a bit before getting to a place, builds the anticipation and helps get a feel of the area.

Entering the field, we walked alongside the wall to a small rise and there it was, suddenly in front of us, Swinside stone circle – megalithic perfection.

I’d seen the photos beforehand many times but it still took me by surprise. This stone circle is just a wow site. Everything about it is great. The size of the circle, the number of stones used, the height of each one and their relationship to each other – I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just the most circley (is that a word?) of stone circles I’ve ever been to. So round, so very round. I was just happy standing on the rise and staring down onto the circle. Megalithic wise it doesn’t get much better that this. After a while I started to notice the surrounding landscape. What a great home the circle has. We made our way into the circle to have a closer look at the stones. I didn’t much feel the need to inspect each stone closely and I soon found myself back at the wall. There’s a nice flat stone we plonked ourselves down on for a sit and just took in the circle’s loveliness.

We were lucky as it was very quiet today, just one group of folk came and went. It was just us and the stones, both taking in the afternoon sunshine on what had turned out to be a pretty fine weather day.

When it was time to leave we decided to take the footpath west of Knott Hill that leads to Hallthwaites. Along the way, we made a diversion up Knott Hill, worth the effort for the view down to Swinside which is very good, though there’s a tricky wall to cross near the top, nothing too bad. The footpath between Hallthwaites and Swinside is a nice option if you have the time and it fits in with your plans. From here it was quiet country roads to Green Road station to catch the train back to Barrow-in-Furness

I love it when a famous site you visit for the first time turns out as good as you hoped. Is this my favourite circle? Maybe, I’m struggling to think of a visit to one that’s been much better. A wonderful day out.

Worlebury (Hillfort)

19/03/2019 – We had to catch a train up north from Bristol in the afternoon so the morning was free. We decided to take the early train to Weston-super-Mare to have a walk round Worlebury Hill. From the station we headed north along quiet streets and then made the short climb up the hill. After spending a bit of time pretending we knew were the actual top was (large flattish area covered in trees) we went west to look at the hillfort.

I didn’t know much about the fort before going and was really taken aback with the number and size of the ramparts. Looks like the whole fort has been cleared of vegetation recently. They have done a fantastic job. The fort and the many pits (I believe close to 100) are showing great now.

Sadly short of time, we looped back down to the prom all to soon to make our way back to the train.

Quality hillfort, well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Pen-y-Fan (Cairn(s))

18/03/2019 – Only had a plan to visit here as a maybe for our trip, if the weather was good. The night before we checked the weather forecast and it predicted rain all day, low cloud and a bit windy. Not ideal but it looked like we would get wet anywhere so we decided to give it a go.

Early train from Bristol to Cardiff then the T4 bus up past Merthyr Tydfil to Storey Arms. As the weather was a bit rubbish and it was Monday I thought at least it would be quiet on the hills. Getting off the bus, I was surprised to see how many cars were parked up already!

We took the normal route up via the Beacons Way. Not too busy to be honest and most folk we met were in decidedly cheery moods considering the weather. The forecast was spot on, rain and more rain! All day, never stopped. We said goodbye to the views as we entered the clouds at around the 600m mark. It’s a decent walk up on a good path. The cairn on top of Pen y Fan is good. I liked the kerbing on it. It seems well looked after considering the amount of people that climb this hill each year. After a few misty photos we decided to head east to visit Cribyn.

On the way between the two tops the cloud broke a little and we were treated to some lovely views north and south. What a fine location and glad it cleared for a while, it would have been a shame to miss it.

Cribyn was a lot quieter, just us and the hill. I couldn’t find any remains of a cairn on top.

I would have liked to continue on east but thought it best to leave that for another time. After a brief sit on a rainy hillside for a quick brew and bite to eat, we headed back over Pen y Fan. This time I was paying more attention and noticed the fantastic ripple marks in the Old Red Sandstone left by the seas so long ago it hurts my head to think about it, wonderful.

After leaving the top again we headed over to the cairn on Corn Du. Very similar to Pen y Fan’s cairn, I think I liked it a little more though. From here we arched NW to follow the track back to Storey Arms.

As it was a good 30 minutes until the next bus, we passed the time by eating bacon butties from the van in the layby there which I thought was a very good idea.

A really good day out and the hills round here are a must visit.

A shame about the rain but it didn’t really effect the day too much. I had a bit of bad luck at the end though as water must have got into my camera. It’s now well and truly dead. I’ve had it for over 6 years and loved it, took a little shine off a great day but that’s how things go sometimes.

Brent Knoll (Hillfort)

17/03/2019 – Staying in Bristol for a few days we decided to take the Stagecoach Falcon bus south past Bristol airport to visit Brent Knoll. The bus stops on the A38 at White Cross just south of the hill. It’s a shortish walk to Brent Knoll from here. We took the marked footpath up from behind the church, there’s parking for cars here too.

The sun was shinning and the sky was blue (very windy though). Visibility was very good. Brent Knoll might be a small hill but wow what a position it has. Full 360 views for miles. We could easily make out Dunkery Hill in Exmoor and the wonderful Glastonbury Tor to the east. The large univallate fort itself is very good. Nice big ramparts and the interior is a good size. We tucked down just east of the topograph that occupies the position now of the long gone trigpoint to shelter from the wind to have our sandwiches. Just lovely to sit and gaze out across the landscape.

Really good hillfort and well worth a visit.

We made the slow walk back down to catch the bus north to Wavering Down (nice hill here too for walking, anyone know if the trig sits on an old cairn?)

Belas Knap (Long Barrow)

16/03/2019 – We were staying a little way south in Bristol but it was just a quick train journey in the morning to Cheltenham Spa, followed by a stroll along the old railway line through town to get to the bus stop and the bus which would take us to Cleeve village and the start of our walk. Good bus most of the week, not quite as frequent on a Sunday. Normally it’s just me and Mrs T when we visit places but today we were in the fine company of thesweetcheat.

We headed up to the top of Cleeve Hill via the nice Cleeve Cloud hillfort with its fine views out across the countryside. The forecast had promised rain at some point in the day but so far it was holding off. The wind though was pretty strong. After a visit to the county top and back round to The Ring trigpoint, we strolled across the hillside to make our approach to Belas Knap. The approach from Cleeve Hill is good. You get a good feel to the barrow's place in the landscape as it can be seen from a fair distance away. I was taken with the stonework on the false entrance beforehand, it had looked great from the TMA photos, even better seeing it for real. We tucked ourselves inside the chambers for a break from the wind. Made it easier to hear each other speak as well. The southeast chamber was a bit of a crawl. The restored bits of the long barrow are well done. The roof of the chambers are a little odd, like an upside down driveway, I liked it though.

We walked from here down in to Winchcombe for a bit of cake and a coffee before taking the bus back to Cheltenham.

A lovely day out and luckily no rain! So pleased to have finally visited this one.

Great to meet up with tsc.

Cluny Hill (Hillfort)

09/02/2019 - Train trip to Forres to visit Cluny Hill and the wonderful Sueno's Stone nearby. Nice stroll up the hill on tracks through open woodland. Good view from the top to Findhorn bay. Nothing much really to see of the fort. Nice walk though and bakeries/cafes in Forres were worth the trip alone, yum.

Tormain Hill (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

28/01/2019 – Early morning bus out to Wilkieston from Edinburgh (big thumbs up to the Edinburgh bus network, cheap and you can get a bus nearly anywhere). Good access, sign posted path to the top of Tormain Hill from the north. We reached the stones just before sunrise. Lovely open woodland setting. I think we counted seven stones with cup marks on them. The pick of the bunch is the one with the cup and ring markings, it’s very good indeed. Really enjoyed our visit here. It was pretty special watching the sun rise from behind the Pentland Hills to slowly light up the stones and surrounding area, magic.

Blackford Hill (Carving)

26/01/2019 – Walking a few of the tops in Edinburgh. Blackford Hill was the last of the day so we thought we’d have a go at finding the deer carving. Turned out not too bad to find. Close to the top of the hill, just a short distance from the steps behind a big tree. It’s steep though but nothing too tricky if you take your time.

I was fair chuffed to find it. A nice little adventure away from all the runners and dog walkers on a pretty busy hill. I didn’t know what to make of the carving really. It didn’t seem that old to me but I still really liked it. A proper mystery.

Plenty of nice walks round and over Blackford Hill. Pretty easy going. The top is the site of a fort but not much to see of it. The views are very good of Edinburgh and the surrounding area. This carving was a nice cherry on top of the Blackford Hill cake.

Brown Caterthun (Hillfort)

31/12/2018 - A few weeks back most of the Aberdeen bypass finally opened, first talked about in the 1950's, it's been a long wait for folk round here. I can't put into words the level of excitement this has caused. It's all folk have been talking about for the last few weeks (apart from that new RSC!).

Today I thought we would have a trip south on it to see what all the excitement was about. We decided to head to the Caterthun hillforts. I'd been to White Caterthun years ago but for some strange reason I didn't visit Brown Caterthun at the same time! Very odd.

We parked up at the roadside layby between the hills just past 9 o'clock. We went first to White Caterthun. It's such a fine hillfort, great walls and a lovely cup marked rock. Next it was time to climb our last hill, Tump, top, call it what you want! of the year. It's an easy stroll up (no cows which was a bonus). Brown Caterthun hillfort might not be as impressive as its neighbour but it's still a good one. It's big! Lots of grassed over ramparts. You can easily find a quiet spot for a brew and a bite to eat. The views all around from both forts are fantastic.

It was a fine way to end the year and that new bit of road round Aberdeen was quite good too :-)

Leachkin (Chambered Cairn)

29/12/2018 - Day trip to Inverness for a loop round three little tumps. It was a fine walk that also included along the way this chambered cairn and a hillfort later on.

We took the Great Glen Way from Inverness to make the steepish climb up to this cairn. It's a little off the path but not too hard to find.

Leachkin chambered cairn is of Orkney-Cromarty type. Though just a few stones remain, the entrance and chamber can be made out. The tallest stone is over 6ft in height.

Really nice location for this one and I loved the feel of the place, very peaceful in the morning sunshine.

The stones are nice. Reddish cobble and boulder conglomerate (Kilmuir Conglomerate Formation formed 385 to 398 million years ago, an age that hurts my head a little to think about). Same stones as under the hillforts of Craig Phadrig and Ord Hill to the north.

Well worth a visit if you are passing by.

Torrisholme (Round Barrow(s))

22/12/2018 - Down in Lancaster for a few days of walking. Train strike today, had to change my plans a little. After a hill in the morning we ended up near Morecambe so decided to visit here. Tump, trigpoint and barrow with a fine view - can't go wrong. Easy access from the lane to the south. Cows might be a problem but not today. It had been a bit rainy in the morning but the sun came out as we made the short climb to the top. Really lovely views from this one for such a little hill. Not much to see of the barrow, just a grassy lump. After taking in the surrounding landscape from the barrow we headed to Morecambe for an afternoon walk along the prom. Nice day.

Auchindoun (Hillfort)

10/11/2018 – A good old castle in ruins is just great. This one at Auchindoun is well worth a visit. There’s a newish carpark now a short drive up the track from the main road. Location is wonderful with fine views of River Fiddich and surrounding hills. I was really taken aback by the size of the ramparts of the bivallate Iron Age fort, they are huge. The medieval castle in the middle of the fort is really fine as well, it took me back to visits to castles in Wales as a kid. Very exciting.

It was a lovely November day out with a walk in the Cabrach in the morning, then a visit here followed by a pop in to see Nether Dumeath stone circle on the way back. All in the fine company of Drew and co :-)
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