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Achvarasdal (Broch) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Achvarasdal</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Achvarasdal</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Achvarasdal</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Achvarasdal (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 29, 2018

Just a few hundred metres from the village of Reay on Scotland's far north lies one of the largest brochs in Scotland: Achvadadsal. After heading east on the A836 out of Reay, the road dog-legs sharply northward. Almost immediately, turn right following the road for about 600 metres and park outside the woodland surrounding Achvadadsal Care Home. It's just a short walk along woodland paths, following 'broch' signs, to the broch.

Achvaradsal Broch is, in area, one of the largest in Scotland with a court diameter of 9.8 metres. The interior of the broch was excavated during the latter part of the 19th century, but the external wall face was not cleared, and remains concealed beneath a sizable vegetated mound. The walling, which rises to 1.6 metres above the central court, is composed in the main of quite small slabs of light-coloured sandstone, giving an appearance rather like brickwork. Achvaradsal has a most impressive, quite narrow entrance passage, a little short of 4 metres long on its east-south-east.

At the time of my visit, the broch was besieged by a major infestation of Giant Hogweed. Even with a walking pole fully extended above me, I could not quite reach the hogweed's flowering heads, which must therefore have been at least 4 metres tall. Achvaradsal is one of the brochs promoted by the Caithness Boch Project, whom I contacted about the problem. They replied that they were aware of the situation and would be taking measures to tackle it. I'm pleased to report that, just three weeks later, I was sent a photograph showing that clearance work had begun. Hogweed, however, is not easy to erradicate, particularly if it has been seeding the area for years, so it may take several seasons to render the site hogweed-free.

You can read much more about Achvarasdal Broch on the Canmore website, including details of finds from the site.

The Borg (Broch) — Fieldnotes

June 5, 2017

Driving north through Strath Halladale, it is difficult to miss the huge bulk of The Borg looming above on your right, standing atop a mound 38 metres tall and about 200 metres distant. It is an impressive edifice built of large rounded boulders, many of which now form a mantle of tumble all around it.

Although much of the broch wall has degenerated into a field of tumbled blocks, there are still some sections where the structure endures, particularly so in the west where neat courses can be seen rising to a height of three metres. At the other extreme, to the north, the walling has all but disappeared, creating an opening into the central court.

The entrance passage, now largely blocked by debris, lies a little east of south, and can be traced through the entire thickness of the broch wall, and most of its lintels remain in place.

The Borg is most certainly a worthwhile stop on the route north, not least because its elevated position affords splendid views along Strath Halladale.

The Borg (Broch) — Images

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Trantlemore (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 25, 2018

Just 1½ kilometres north of The Borg, off the A897 as it passes through Strath Halladale, a minor road branches left across the Halladale River towards a walled cemetery. Trantlemore broch lies a kilometre farther on on the right-hand side of the road.

There is very little remaining to be seen, just a vegetated rise about a metre and a half tall in a field a few metres east of the road. On the southwest of the structure a section of vegetated wall can be recognised, but little else. There is no sign of an entrance passage.

Trantlemore (Broch) — Images

<b>Trantlemore</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Trantlemore</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Trantlemore</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Langdale (Broch) — Images

<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Langdale</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Langdale (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 26, 2018

Langdale broch lies about a kilometre from Syre, just north of of the Langdale Burn and 400 metres walk from the road. It stands on the top of a prominent, steep sided grass covered knoll about 40 metres tall, commanding a superb view of the surrounding countryside.

The broch, built from large boulders, is very dilapidated now and little structure of the outer wall facing remains. But the interior walling is still fairly well defined round most of the structure, standing a metre or more high and almost 5 metres wide, though detail of the facing is largely hidden under rubble.

Access is straightforward from immediately north of the farm, where a 4-bar stile gives access through the fence to a steep grassy slope that follows the stone wall round the farm area to a gate, beyond which a path heads past the broch.

Carn Nam Buth (Broch) — Images

<b>Carn Nam Buth</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Carn Nam Buth</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Carn Nam Buth</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Carn Nam Buth</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Carn Nam Buth</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Carn Nam Buth (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 25, 2018

This remnant broch, also known as Upper Suisgill, seems only to have been discovered by the OS as recently as May 1961: it is not shown on any previous historical OS map.

Carn Nam Buth is extremely dilapidated, and while it has been categorised as a 'possible' broch on account of size, shape and position, it may simply have been a ditched homestead or dun. It occupies the summit of an impressive knoll that has been artificially steepened, and which would have provided an easily defended position overlooking cultivable land, immediately north of the A897 Kildonan road and 180 metres east of the bridge over the Suisgill Burn.

A visit entails an easy uphill walk over grass to a largely heathery dome showing little remaining structure apart from a hint of foundation course on the southeast flank..

Loudon Wood (Stone Circle) — News

Vandalism at Louden Wood Stone Circle

Discovered on July 23, 2018

Today, making my first visit to Loudon Wood Stone Circle for five years, I was appalled to find the site desecrated by the remains of a campfire: in the centre of the monument's court were the blackened remains of the fire, complete with a huge pile of litter.

Whoever the thoughtless uneducated louts that perpetrated this atrocity were, there must have been quite a contingent of them judging by the quantiy of residue they left behind. This consisted of two disposable barbecues, numerous plastic bottles and wrappers (some still containing the remains of cold meat) and, worst of all, glass beer bottles, many of which had been smashed to pieces (presumably deliberately).

It is heartbreaking to see such an iconic, Historic Environment Scotland Scheduled Monument defaced in this way.

As I had visited on a very warm day, in shirtsleeves and without a rucksack or any other container with which to remove the detritus, I satisfied myself by carrying out the two largest items (the foil barbecues).

Can I appeal to anyone planning to visit Loudon Wood Stone Circle in the weeks ahead to equip themselves with a suitable container (such as a reusable supermarket shopping bag) to help clear the site. There is a bin at the White Cow Wood car-park where the contents may be deposited.

Baile Mhargaite (Cist) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 28, 2018

Immediately below the hill of Baile Mhargaite, with its summit broch, lie the remains of a Bronze Age village and burial ground on a sandy plateau some 15 metres above sea level. The plateau undulates a little and includes a number of hut circles and three cists.

The main cist, by far the best preserved of the three, lies at NC 69863 61030, sunk into the summit of a mound (cairn ?) about 2.5 metres tall. The cist, measuring 107x56x51 cm, is perfectly preserved, and open (its capstone lies just to one side of it), and is lined on all sides with flagstones.

Just a few metres away at NC 69856 61027 is a second open cist with one end flagstone and its cover both absent.

The third cist lies in level ground some 22 metres north of the first two at NC 69847 61051. It has no capstone, both end flagstones are missing, and the crypt has infilled with sand.

Baile Mhargaite (Cist) — Images

<b>Baile Mhargaite</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Baile Mhargaite</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Baile Mhargaite</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Baile Mhargaite</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Baile Mhargaite</b>Posted by LesHamilton

Dun Carnachaidh (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 26, 2018

Canmore dramatically describes Dun Carnachaidh as: 'The remains of a broch on a cliff overlooking the river valley'!

What cliff?

There's no cliff within sight, and the broch stands just 90 metres west of the Strathnaver road up a steepish grassy hillside.

This broch cannot be seen from the road as it sits on a level shelf about 25 metres up the hillside. It takes but a few minutes to reach it. It is extremely ruinous with few major features extant. The foundation course can be followed intermittently around the structure and there are some impressively large stones of the 2nd course around the southeastern arc. Amongst the tumble to the west of the broch is what appears to be the remains of an intra-mural gallery.

Access to Dun Carnachaidh is straightforward as there is parking in a bay beside a cattle grid on the road just 1½ kilometres north of Carnachy. The fence at the roadside consists only of wire strands which it is easy to wriggle between (no barbed stuff).

Dun Carnachaidh (Broch) — Images

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Backies (Broch) — Fieldnotes

Visited: June 25, 2018

Located no more than 3 km west of the A9, and not far from the town of Golspie on the Dornoch Firth, Backies must rate as one of the 'must see' brochs of northern Scotland. Considered to be a solid-based broch, Backies was excavated in 1846, and the spoils simply tossed over its walls to form a stoneheap all around it. In this respect, its profile is almost identical to that of Carrol Broch. Backies stands on a steep rocky knoll just north of the community of the same name, and the only feature evident from outside is the 5 metre long entrance passage and the entrance portal itself, surmounted by a huge lintel.

But the interior is another matter altogether. The foundation course is completely buried in rubble but
the second level is virtually complete and still stands 2½ metres tall round the entire structure with a well preserved ledge scarcement at 1.7 metres. The second level is hollow, and a well constructed doorway leads into the intra-mural cavity. A feature of the doorway is a lintel below the top which serves as part of the scarcement ledge.

Canmore states that:
"Backies is a good example of a once well preserved, hollow-walled broch which is steadily falling into ruin. Only its remoteness has preserved it from greater destruction, but there can be little doubt that in a few more decades all the surviving traces of hollow-wall architecture in Level 2 will have disappeared."
There is a huge amount of information about Backies broch on the Canmore website.

To access Backies broch, look out for a sign indicating left to 'Backies' just a few hundred metres north of Golspie as you drive north on the A9, and mid-way between Golspie and Dunrobin Castle. Follow this road for 2½ km till you encounter a sign pointing right to a Scottish Water Treatment Works (marker 'W' on the map). There is room for one car to park on the verge just before this sign. Head up the road to the Treatment Works, where there is a possibility of parking just past their building on the right (marker 'P').

From the Treatment Works, walk up the road for a couple of hundred metres till you encounter a well constructed sinuous road heading to the right (east), not yet marked on the OS map. The road ends at a ruined croft house in sight of Backies broch (yellow line). Although the terrain towards the broch (marker 'B') looks a bit of a jungle of woodland thickets and bracken there is a narrow footpath to it (though I missed it and had to fight my way round to the broch).

On the road's final bend, just a few metres before the ruined croft house, a drainage culvert passes under the road. The path to the broch, which I only discovered on the way back from it, starts immediately before the culvert and in nearly a straight line to the broch (cyan line on map). In summer, it's just a case of searching for the trampled path beneath the bracken and following it as best possible.

Backies (Broch) — Images

<b>Backies</b>Posted by LesHamilton<b>Backies</b>Posted by LesHamilton
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A keen hillwalker most of my life, my interest was restricted when the need arose to care for an ageing parent.

With limited opportunities to travel far from home, I 'discovered' the world of stone circles, mainly in my native Aberdeenshire.

This provided the ideal opportunity for short walks of just a few hours duration, and resulted in me visiting many places of interest that I had never considered previously.

Stone Circles of NE Scotland
Here you will find both Google and Bing maps displaying more than 100 sites of stone circles, the majority in my native Aberdeenshire. The markers on the maps are clickable, to reveal a photo of the stone circle and a link to their Canmore Site Record.

A menu at the side of the maps allows you to zoom in to any individual circle, viewing its environs as a zoomable aerial photograph (Google) or an OS Map (Bing).

I've since extended my interest to the megalithic remains in The Netherlands, where there are some magnificent passage graves known as hunebedden (giant's beds). Despite the fact that The Netherlands is essentially flat and sandy, these 5000 year old monuments from the Funnel Beaker Culture are often found in exquisite woodland settings, nearly all of them in the province of Drenthe. There are almost limitless opportunities for delightful walks between small villages, taking in a diversion to a hunebed here and there.

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