To make it easier for contributors to add new sites, the pages for Scotland are currently being reorganised according to the present Scottish Council areas.
A map of these can be seen on the Gazetteer for Scotland website.
TWO of Scotland's main heritage bodies are to merge, it has been confirmed.
The Scottish Government published a strategy document for the "historic environment" yesterday as Fiona Hyslop, the culture secretary, launched a Bill to address the management of the nation's built heritage... continues...
Reclusive American leaves Scotland his £2.5m fortune
A 79 year old recluse has left his fortune to the National Trust of Scotland. He had never visited apparently and his conception of Scotland was based on the film Brigadoon. His only friend, the barber, got the pug and a vet's bill.
Ramblers Scotland is backing a petition to force a Scottish Government review on unsightly vehicular hill tracks and electrified deer fencing in the Scottish countryside. "Neither requires planning permission and both cause scars on our wild landscapes" says Helen todd, Ramblers Scotland's development officer... continues...
Mathematical analysis of Scottish Stone Art points to lost language?
At New Scientist web site:
"Elaborate symbols and ornate depictions of animals carved in stone by an ancient Scottish people have given up their secret – to mathematics. Statistical analysis reveals that the shapes are a forgotten written language... continues...
In a silent move, the RCAHMS switched to a state-of-the-art update of the good old Canmore database on 11th March 2009.
It really looks much better and there are obvious advantages over the old format like direct access instead of a log-in procedure and, when available, a 10-digit gridref... continues...
The Hunterian museum is re-assembling his(mostly Northern Isles) donation and adding this to their catalogue as they go http://www.huntsearch.gla.ac.uk
At present this is text-only but images will be added over the coming months
The name "Thunderbolt" was also given in Scotland to stone axes until within recent years. A finely formed axe of aphanite found in Berwickshire, and presented to the Museum in 1876, was obtained about twenty years before from a blacksmith in whose smithy it had long lain. It was known in the district as "the thunderbolt," and had probably been preserved in the belief that it had fallen from the sky.
In Shetland stone axes were said to protect from thunder the houses inwhich they were preserved. One found at Tingwall was acquired from an old woman in Scalloway, who believed it to be a "thunderbolt," and "of efficacy in averting evil from the dwelling in which it was kept;" while another, believed to have "fallen from the skies during a thunderstorm," was preserved in the belief that "it brought good luck to the house."
In the North-East of Scotland they "were coveted as the sure bringers of success, provided they were not allowed to fall to the ground."
In the British Museum there is a very fine axe of polished green quartz, mounted in silver, which is stated to have been sewed to a belt which was worn round the waist by a Scottish officer as a cure for kidney disease.
The late Sir Daniel Wilson mentions an interesting tradition regarding the large perforated stone hammers, which he says were popularly known in Scotland almost till the close of last century as "Purgatory Hammers," for the dead to knock with at the gates of Purgatory.
Mr. Stuart adverted to the varying circumstances under which flint arrowheads were found. The popular belief which long regarded them as "elf-darts," and which was not confined to Scotland, had been expressed by the well-known Scottish geographer, Robert Gordon of Straloch, about two centuries ago. After giving some details about them, he adds that these wonderful stones are sometimes found in the fields, and in public and beaten roads, but never by searching for them; to-day perhaps one will be found where yesterday nothing could be seen, and in the afternoon in places where before noon there was none, and this most freqently under clear skies and in summer days. He then gives instances related to him by a man and woman of credit, each of whom while riding found an arrowhead in their clothes in this unexpected way.
Described on p174 of 'The Gentleman's Magazine' Jan-June 1861.
Insular stone Circles :-
In a talk on Wednesday by Colin Richards his subject was the Stone Circles in Orkney and Lewis, which contrary to expectation turned out to be of different natures and for different purposes. Those in Orkney are constructed of material from seperate areas (Stones of Stenness five different sandstones, Ring of Brodgar twelve different geologies in distinct segments of the circle that significantly aren't always curved arcs) whilst those on Lewis are built of rock from their immediate vicinity (also the evidence is that both Orcadian circles were intentionally incomplete, from which he infers the rituals of the construction were an end in themselves). His ?new idea is that those on Orkney had place as the key factor (place of origin, spatial community) whilst those on Lewis had folk as the key factor (family, dispersed community [moiety ?] }.
From which is extrapolated that our obsession with geometry and algnments isn't theirs, that what looks incomplete to us is meant as is, and that whatever comes after is most likely not the original intent, that being the construction process itself.
"I left Banks very happy and made my way to the Tomb of the Eagles. In comparison to Banks this place seems better organised in terms of signage and parking. I paid my entry fee (£6.80 I think it was) and was led into an adjoining room where a member of the staff was talking to a small group of visitors about the tomb."
"I was awoken at 5am by some other person arriving and parking right next to me with their radio blasting out… what is it with people and their need to make as much noise as possible regardless of what other people might think… I was very glad when the ferry arrived and I booked in, boarded and sat down somewhere quiet."
"After successfully transferring from train to bus and finally plane, I arrived in a reasonably sunny Inverness. It was about 4pm and after picking up the hire car I made my way towards the Bronze Age Clava Cairns, a short distance east from the city. On the way I noticed a sign for the Culloden battle field and decided to take a quick look (well, I was already going past it after all)..."
About 1 mile further north of the famous Grey Cairns of Camster.
Just keep heading up the road and you will see the standing stones on your right.
My O/S map shows three standing stones but I could only spot 2 of them amid the tall spiky grass – both of which are visible from the road although not obvious.
The adjacent wind turbines dominate the area.
Whilst searching around for the ‘missing’ stone I was constantly surrounded by a mass of flies. Perhaps they were after the salt in my sweat on this hot, sticky day. Or perhaps I just smelt!
I was planning on having a look at the nearby broch but unfortunately ran out of time.
‘Three small stone slabs stand in heather moorland immediately E of the minor road from Watten to Lybster. The southernmost stands immediately E of the road and measures 0.8m in height by 0.22m in thickness – there is an O/S bench-mark on its SSE face. The second stone, which also stands immediately E of the road, measures 0.5m in height and 0.4m in thickness. The northernmost stone measures 0.8m in height by 0.25m in thickness’.
Sign posted off the A831 – Historic Scotland site
We had been very fortunate with the weather with day after day of blue skies and the odd white fluffy cloud. However, today it was too hot – that’s something that doesn’t happen very often in Scotland! We had spent the afternoon at Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness but had to come away as it was so hot the children (and us) were starting to suffer.
We made our way to Corrimony with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. Sophie was complaining that she wasn’t feeling well and we had to stop a couple of times. It was a fair drive from Loch Ness but we eventually arrived at the designated car park.
Myself and Dafydd took the short walk to the site whilst Karen stayed with Sophie who was still not very well. As you would expect there were many, many people at the Historic Scotland ‘cash cow’ that is Urquhart Castle and yet at this Historic Scotland site we were the only visitors!
The cairn is in a very peaceful spot and we counted 12 stones – 2 of which are split and 1 now only a stump. We also counted over 20 cup marks on the cap stone although the bright glare of the sun was far from ideal.
After we had been there for a while another couple arrived. I decided it was their turn to have the place to themselves. I was planning on walking to Mony’s Stone but Sophie was still poorly (I think she was suffering from heat stroke) and it was way too hot to expect her to wait for me in the car – so I decided to give it a miss. Perhaps next time?
This is a great place to come and I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
5m north of Lybster on the A9 – sign posted. Historic Scotland site.
The road taking you from the A9 to Camster is a bit like ‘the road to nowhere’.
This is certainly a remote area but, of course, that’s what gives it its charm. It was no surprise that we didn’t pass a single person or vehicle on the way to the cairns.
The grey stones of the cairns stand out against the green grass and their bulk is easily seen from the road (on the left) – you would have trouble not spotting them!
Upon parking Sophie and Dafydd excitedly put on their head lights and we walked out across the wooden board walk towards the first cairn – the one on the left. When we arrived at the cairn the metal gate at the entrance was closed but thankfully not locked. Sophie insisted on taking the lead and Dafydd followed her. I took up the rear. Although the children found no trouble in accessing the chamber I found ‘waddling’ a bit of a struggle – I must be getting old!
We then continued along the boardwalk to the larger cairn which has two low and narrow entrance passages. This is the cairn which also has the reconstructed horned forecourt – which is rather splendid. I must admit that I also found it far from easy ‘waddling’ along these passages but with Sophie’s ‘help’ I eventually managed it. It would probably have been much easier to have simply crawled along the passage ways but that would have been a rather muddy experience!
As with all intact burial chambers (and caves for that matter) once inside and sat in quiet isolation the place takes on a ‘timeless’ characteristic. Time seems to stop.
These are cracking site to visit and comes highly recommended. The highest compliment I can give the cairns is that it wouldn’t look out of place in Orkney.
This is a ‘must see’ if you find yourself in the far north east of Scotland.
Immediately south of the Dalmor cairns on the B871
The weather was glorious and after pulling over onto the grass verge I hopped over the metal field gate and headed towards the chambered cairn. A farmer was in the next field harvesting his crop and he didn’t seem concerned about me being there.
Despite being in the far north of Scotland with its miles upon miles of bleak (in a nice sort of way) moorland this glen is surprisingly well cultivated.
Although ruined, the cairn still has two stones stood upright and a 3rd stone laying flat on the ground. There are many stones sticking out of the grass.
This is a lovely spot for a cairn, overlooking a bend in the river Naver.
When I got back to the car Karen was looking through my binoculars and pointing. There, on a nearby telegraph pole was a large eagle. Wow, what a sight! You just have to love Scotland.
If you are in the area checking out the many prehistoric sites along the B871 / parallel minor road then you could do worse than to visit this one. Not a huge amount to see but the setting s delightful.
‘A natural knoll which has been enhanced to form a central cairn, identified by a scattering of stones over an area with a diameter of 24m. Three large flat elongated stone slabs provide evidence of a chamber’
Immediately south of Achcheargary chambered cairn on the B871 - off the A836 near Bettyhill.
Not sure if I spotted these cairns or not?
The area is 'lumpy bumpy' rough grass with a couple of possible contenders for the cairns seen - although nothing obvious.
Cairns 'A' and 'B' are on the old river terrace at the west side of the River Naver.
'A' is completely turf-covered. It is visible as a platform measuring 12.5m NE-SW by 11.5m with a peripheral, ragged ridge of rubble 0.2m high and 1.5m spread.
'B' is a stony mound adopting a level stance and measuring approximately 15.5m diameter; the body content is low and much disturbed. Intruding in the west sector is a circular depression.
Revised at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J M) 25 June 1977.
NC 7198 5489 Circular enclosure/?cairn A (NC75SW 2). The middle of the three 'cairns' already recorded, this feature comprises a circular earth bank, 1m wide and variable in height from 0.1-0.3m, enclosing an area with an internal diameter of 9m. There may be an entrance in the SE.
Full report deposited in Highland SMR
M Marshall 2002
About 2 miles south of the A836 on the western side of the B871
Couldn’t see a thing. The whole area was covered in chest high ferns.
Only chance of spotting this is to come in the winter.
Two heavily-robbed cairns with short cists.
'A' is 13m in diameter and 1m high with a central cists complete with coverstone, and about 3m to the north, a cavity which suggests the former existence of a second cist. In February 1938 the cairn was being used as a quarry for road metal, and in subsequent sifting of the material which had been thrown out, most of a jet necklace and a jet button were recovered, and are now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland [NMAS]. (Acc No. FN 176).
'B' has measured 13.4.m in diameter but its southern segment has been entirely destroyed. A single slab on edge near the centre denotes the position of a probable cist. 1960
Just north of Skelpick, off the A836 at Bettyhill.
Along the same road but further south of Achcoillenaborgie broch.
I found this site to be more difficult than I was expecting. Firstly, you cannot see the chamber from the road. We pulled over at approximately the right place on the map and I headed east.
After crossing the barbed wire fence I had to weave my way through chest high ferns and gorse. Despite the (almost) tropical weather the ground was very bogy. It must be very wet in ‘normal’ Scottish summer weather!
I eventually located the river / bridge and then had to cross a second barbed wire fence.
In reality it is only a 10 minute walk from the road but it’s not an easy 10 minute walk – at least not the way I went!
The inside of chamber was completely overgrown, to the extent that it was difficult to climb inside. There was no chance of crawling under the remaining capstone.
It is obvious that this site receives few visitors – which is hardly surprising. In my humble opinion I would say you would be better off visiting Coille Na Borgie as not only is it much easier to access but it is also in better condition.
About 1km down a minor road off the A836 (signposted Skelpick)
A short distance south of Bettyhill.
There is a small parking area and an information board and a sign proclaiming this to be site ‘Strathnaver Trail 11’.
(Well done to whoever set up this trail)
A ‘path’ has been cut through the ferns and a short walk will soon bring you out to a large pile of stones which is all that remains of this ruined broch. Much of the mound of stones is covered by fern. I couldn’t make out any of the details described by the CANMORE report.
The broch is in a prominent position and affords good views along the glen.
Worth a look when visiting the (better) chambered cairns which run along the road.
The remains of a broch, set on a low knoll. The north section is severely denuded and the entrance passage is not visible although the chamber survives. In the northern arc are traces of a dry stone chamber, partly built into the broch wall. To the SW lies a circular rubble-walled enclosure, 7.2m in diameter with no visible entrance, whose period is uncertain. Remains of a ditch, partly accompanied by an outer bank, curve around the broch on the north and west’.
We followed the signs and parked in the small parking area next to the approach road to the farm. A sign states that the parking area closes at 6.30pm in summer and 4.30pm in winter.
The weather was bright although there were dark, threatening rain clouds on the horizon. The children were asleep in the car so I followed the path to the hillfort alone.
The path runs parallel to the farm access road before crossing a small field of cows and the start of the outer ramparts. (200m walk)
The information board states that the hillfort is unexcavated which I found surprising.
There are many stones sticking out of the grass on the ramparts which no doubt is what the banks were originally made up of. The site is large but not huge and it doesn’t take long to walk around the entire perimeter.
There are good coastal views and in the distance Arthur’s Seat can be seen. Nearby Traprain Law stood out like a beacon as it was lit up by the evening sunshine.
On my way back to the car a family arrived with two young children. It is always nice to see children being shown these ancient sites and they will (hopefully) gain a better understanding of their forebears and an appreciation of the importance of these special places.
This is a very easy hillfort to access and is well worth a visit if in the area.
Another Historic Scotland site knocked off the list!