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

Fieldnotes by Sarcassy

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Dun an Fheurain (Cliff Fort)

Glorious day in May and I hike off to digitally capture this dun. It is fairly obscure but to me as with mathematics once you get it you get it! This dun stands overlooking the western side of Ardalanish Bay (Unspoilt gorgeous sands) and is at opposite end of the beach from the standing stone (see Ardalanish stone for reference). Built upon gradient but nonetheless sheer cliffs the dun is appx 30m at it's highest point but stone work can be found from around 20m upwards. The best way to climb to the dun would be by following the sand around to the back side (south west side) and walking/clambering up the gradual slopes, however me being me (still a bit of a tomboy really!) I had to do it the hard way and did a bit of rock climbing on the south side, great fun! The fort measures roughly 65m by 15m though much of the stone is either overgrown or lost. There are remains of stone work to be found both on the NW and SE sides, there is apparently a remaining entrance through a space on the WSW side of the wall, however once again the blasted dogs cut my expedition short so will return unfettered and try to navigate my way around a bit more and get more pictures taken.

Dun a Gheard (Cliff Fort)

There are numerous duns scattered around the coastline of Mull, but this example of an iron age fort has to be one of the finest on the island. Much of the stone has now fallen and has been lost to nature on the hill and down the steep cliffs to either side, many of the stones would have been taken in later years for use in the crofting settlements and dykes nearby. However the base of the walls and steps are still fairly clear. Though built for defensive purposes,in more peaceful times there has been evidence of this structure being used as a grain store and a meeting point for the communities who settled the area. As with all sites on the Ross of Mull the views are astounding and it is easy to understand why from a defensive point of view this site was perfect. Whilst there I tried to tune in to what the feeling of the place was to me, all I could really feel was an unsettled fear, or perhaps it was a touch of vertigo being on such a vulnerable cliff edge! I remember visiting the site and having similar feelings before, but then my local knowledge of the history of this and surrounding area tell me of viscious clan battles etc and my mind could have been imposing this onto my subconscious. Was still a fab day out and a hearty walk, the pictures I took I was dissappointed with though and would like to get back and take more. I had a friends dogs with me and though they had been calm the whole walk there, once there they went nuts and only wanted to kill the sheep and lambs in view, they were on leads so no worries, but it did make photography difficult! Perhaps they felt as I did the blood of history that had been spilt on the soil around us!

Suidhe Barrow (Burial Chamber)

The barrow, now covered in grass, measures 22m by 19m and stands to a height of 1m, with a slightly hollowed centre. There is one large intact capstone supported by two larger and a number of smaller rocks at the entrance and although I have tried to research as to whether this burial chamber has ever been excavated it remains unsure but I do have a feeling it hasn't. Whilst there I felt the peace of the location and questions ran through my mind as I sat on the hill overlooking the site, here I pondered whether the ancient Britons mourned or grieved the passing of their dead and did they sit in the spot I was sitting and look out over to Colonsay to the South as I was doing and breath in the vibrant air around reflecting on the dead, or did they celebrate on the hill, joyous in the life cycles around. Will we ever know?

Ardalanish (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Getting to this stone is relatively easy, however we decided to take the short cut and walked in roughly a straight line from the Uisken stone, steep and exhilirating! From Bunessan on the Ross of Mull take the road behind the Argyll Arms Hotel marked for Uisken. Roughly 2km along this road Ardalanish Beach and Mull Weavers are sign posted to the right, take this road and you arrive at a small parking area which leads to the beach path travelling south. Follow this path to the shore and turn left (East) walk about 400 metres looking to your left, the landowners have placed a style on the fencing a little behind the dunes at this point the stone is visible. This stone amazed me while I photographed it, whether due to wear and tear by the harsh shoreline conditions or whether by design but no two sides of this stone are the same and although now leaning slightly towards the south is an imposing and dramatic sight nonetheless. There is a further stone which lies appx 11 metres to the east of the site but has fallen and not so easy to find due to the blanket of mother nature.

Uisken (Standing Stone / Menhir)

From Bunessan on the Ross of Mull take the road behind the Argyll Arms Hotel marked for Uisken. Roughly 3km along this road there is a farm access road with a cattle grid on the left. If you walk to the farmhouse it is then advisable to ask permission as you have to walk through land belonging to the lovely crofting lady who lives there. Be prepared for a chat! If given, continue walking north-east for 500m, past a small ruined township and over a large well kept dyke, be very careful not to disturb stones whilst crossing this dyke and if any are dislodged endeavour to replace as best you can. On reaching the brow of the hill the standing stone can be seen slightly to the left on the large plateux of heathery mossy ground. To get to this stone is a bit of a ramble and a clamber, the alignment of the stone is apparently best seen at midsummer, but for walking purposes I would advice going either in spring or autumn as the bracken could be difficult to navigate at height of summer. Wellies are advised! Once aside the stone the views are superb, settled on a fantastic viewpoint with views across the Ross, the cliff formation known locally as Gorrie's Leap being especially clear from this point, views across to Jura, Colonsay and Islay are fantastic on a clear day. A fairly remote and inhospitable spot, really makes your eyes wide in wonderment of how on earth they managed to get a stone of this size there in the first place, never mind why!

Suidhe (Standing Stones)

There is a deserted township at Suidhe with panoramic views of the Ross of Mull, this township was last populated in the 1940's and became a scheduled monument in 2004 due to its importance as a monument in helping understand a settlement that has been adapted over a period of hundreds of years possibly medieval. To the southwest of the township is a prehistoric Barrow, see site posting for more, approximately 7,000 years old, with the two standing stones clearly visible on its NNE side. The two remaining standing stones here make one wonder whether at some point in the past there was a full circle encircling the base of the barrow, however conjecture aside what we are left with are two stones of very different dimensions. The larger standing very erect at appx 2 metres high. The smaller of the two intrigued me, it stands at around 75cm to a metre high, am kicking myself for not taking a tape measure, being a woman my spacial awareness isn't that great! This stone is small and stubby and has an eyelet about half to three quarters of the way up on the NW facing side, wear and tear or by design? The peace and solitude here is breathtaking, despite being there with two seven year olds and the family cat! I think we all picked up on the positive energy of the site, two fractious children becoming creative and imaginative and the cat becoming very vocal, and me, I just let my mind wander where it would. Even for the views though from the brow of the hill itself it is worth a visit. Suidhe in Gaelic means seat and folklore has it that Columba rested there on his way to and from Iona in the 6th century.

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