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



<b>Scotland</b>Posted by the wickenTaransay © the wicken
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.
Also known as:
  • Alba

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62 posts
656 sites
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357 sites
Argyll and Bute (Mainland)
279 sites
Central Scotland
6 posts
223 sites
Dumfries and Galloway
8 posts
51 sites
132 sites
Highland (Islands)
42 posts
446 sites
Highland (Mainland)
3 posts
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413 sites
Perth and Kinross
3 posts
99 sites
Scottish Borders
6 posts
63 sites
The Shetland Isles
15 sites
South Ayrshire
6 posts
67 sites
2 posts
131 sites
The Western Isles


Add news Add news
Hunter-gatherers roamed Cairngorms 10,000 years ago

Excavations at sites deep in the glens, on the National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) Mar Lodge Estate in Aberdeenshire, have produced radiocarbon dates which demonstrate a human presence as far back as 8,100 BCE.

The Scotsman
BBC News
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
10th July 2015ce
Edited 13th July 2015ce

Earliest evidence of the presence of humans in Scotland found in South Lanarkshire

From Historic Scotland:

9 April 2014 Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of the presence of humans in Scotland it was announced today... continues...
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
9th April 2014ce

Scottish heritage bodies to merge

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...
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
7th March 2014ce

RCAHMS Review Update (April)

News for the Scots to think about.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
25th April 2012ce

Scottish prehistoric mummies made from jigsaw of body parts

DNA tests on British prehistoric mummies revealed they were made of body parts from several different people, arranged to look like one person.

The four bodies discovered in 2001 on South Uist, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides were the first evidence in Britain of deliberate mummification... continues...
1speed Posted by 1speed
22nd August 2011ce
Edited 22nd August 2011ce

Scotland's World Heritage Sites Celebration Planned

Scotlands 5 World Heritage sites are to link up with a series of interactive events exploring the theme of cultural identity. Includes Neolithic Orkney.

More info :

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
21st March 2011ce

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.

tjj Posted by tjj
7th January 2011ce

Attractions Have Best Season On Record

Visitor numbers soar at the nation's historic sites.

Mentioned are Skara Brae plus Edinburgh and Urquhart Castles both at one time hillforts.

More info :
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
21st December 2010ce
Edited 21st December 2010ce

Scotland countryside petition

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...
tjj Posted by tjj
9th June 2010ce
Edited 9th June 2010ce

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...
mascot Posted by mascot
1st April 2010ce
Edited 1st April 2010ce

Iron Age Gold Goes On Public View

Four solid gold Iron Age neck ornaments which were found by an amateur metal detector have gone on display. Here is the BBC video continues...
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
20th January 2010ce
Edited 20th January 2010ce

Ancient arrowhead a 'chance find' at Sutherland school

Archaeologists have made what they described as a "chance discovery" of a stone arrowhead in the garden of a ruined schoolhouse in Sutherland.

Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (Guard) said it may have been dropped by a hunter... continues...
The Eternal Posted by The Eternal
16th January 2010ce
Edited 16th January 2010ce

Canmore database modernized!

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...
rockartuk Posted by rockartuk
13th March 2009ce
Edited 13th March 2009ce

Discovery & Excavation in Scotland online

Now downloadable at as a .pdf for each year from 1947-2001. However these are facsimiles, so you really need to know which year you want as these won't be truly searchable
wideford Posted by wideford
23rd October 2007ce

10,000 historic sites at risk from climate change

MORE THAN 10,000 of the most important ancient and historical sites around Scotland's coastline are at risk of being destroyed by the storms and rising sea levels that will come with global warming.

Sites in jeopardy include the neolithic settlement of Skara Brae on Orkney and the prehistoric ruins at Jarlshof on Shetland... continues...
moss Posted by moss
24th September 2007ce

J.W. Cursiter collection online

The Hunterian museum is re-assembling his(mostly Northern Isles) donation and adding this to their catalogue as they go
At present this is text-only but images will be added over the coming months
wideford Posted by wideford
3rd August 2007ce

Scotland's magical ancient circles leave Stonehenge standing continues...
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
3rd November 2006ce
Edited 30th August 2007ce

Heatwave reveals Scotland's past

A heatwave has revealed fleeting traces of early settlements to historians taking a bird's eye view of Scotland... continues...
nickbrand Posted by nickbrand
22nd August 2006ce
Edited 1st September 2007ce


Add folklore Add folklore
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.
From 'Scottish Charms and Amulets' by Geo. F. Black. (In v27 of PSAS -1893, p433).
You can check out his sources in the footnotes at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th June 2008ce

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.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th September 2007ce
Edited 15th September 2007ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
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.
wideford Posted by wideford
16th May 2008ce
Edited 16th May 2008ce


Add a link Add a link

Forestry Commission For Scotland

Handy enough site this and some prehistoric places as well including Clune Wood.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
24th August 2012ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish Adventures: Part 4. Tomb of the Eagles

"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."
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
8th July 2011ce
Edited 8th July 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish Adventures: Part 3. Banks 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."
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
4th July 2011ce
Edited 4th July 2011ce

The Heritage Journal: Scubi's Scottish Adventures: Part 2

"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)..."
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
16th June 2011ce
Edited 16th June 2011ce

Archaic sculpturings of cups, circles, &c. upon stones and rocks in Scotland

Archaic sculpturings of cups, circles, &c. upon stones and rocks in Scotland, England and other countries

Sir J. Y. Simpson, Bart., M.D., D.C.L. - 1867

Download the complete book in pdf format
Chance Posted by Chance
18th July 2010ce

National Library of Scotland

Many old maps of Scotland, all searchable and zoom-inable, including 25 inch to the mile OS maps from 1855-1882. Luvly.

(As kindly tipped off by Branwen).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th February 2010ce
Edited 13th February 2010ce

Above Scotland gallery

loads of photos taken from the new RCAHMS book of aerial photos, plenty to drool over
wideford Posted by wideford
2nd January 2010ce

Historic Scotland

Another good site for researching Scottish sites
ginger tt Posted by ginger tt
16th September 2009ce


Great site for getting information on prehistoric monuments in Scotland.
ginger tt Posted by ginger tt
16th September 2009ce
Edited 16th September 2009ce

Latest posts for Scotland

Showing 1-10 of 29,763 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Dunnicaer (Promontory Fort) — News

Archaeologists unearth 'oldest Pictish fort in Scotland' on Aberdeenshire sea stack

Radiocarbon dating shows the Dunnicaer fort to have belonged to the 3rd/4th centuries CE.

This report appeared in Herald Scotland on July 28, 2015..
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
28th July 2015ce

Kilpatrick Dun (or Cashel) (Stone Fort / Dun) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.15

1m south of Blackwater on the A841 - NOT signposted despite being an Historic Scotland site.

Another nightmare site to visit!

We drove past the parking area twice before finding the place. It is right next to the main road but is surrounded by a low stone wall which hides it. It looks for all the world like the front of someone's garden. I then noticed that the metal post which no doubt held the H.S. sign had been cut through. At least there were black and white posts to guide the way.

You walk through the garden of a new-build looking house and up onto the hillside. As a certain song asks 'Why does it always rain on me?' so the rain continued its onslaught.

This was even worse to visit than the nearby H.S. of Tor A'chaisteal Fort. The hillside was little more than a bog, water flowed freely down the slope. Everywhere was ankle deep in mud. If only I had my wellies!

Without the aid of the black and white posts I would never have found the place.

Historic Scotland state this site is an 'enigma'. A circular stone structure surrounded by a wall of turf and stone. The site is imperfectly understood. A short cist was discovered containing an urn with fragments of burnt human bone. It is also claimed that the site could be a cashel. Current thinking says the site is an Iron Age Dun with an enclosure bank which formed part of a post-medieval farm. Perhaps it is a multi-period site?

There are several large stones, both erect and prostrate. One of them is very long, looking like a long stone bench. It would have been a decent sized standing stone if ever erect? The site (whatever it is) is in a very prominent position and would afford good views - in better weather!

On this occasion I am not overly surprised that these are the first TMA field notes - despite being an Historic Scotland site. If planning a visit pick a dry day AND bring your wellies.

I will be sending H.S. an e-mail regarding access issues with both this site and Torr A'chaisteal.
Posted by CARL
28th July 2015ce

Torr a Chaistell (Stone Fort / Dun) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.15

The site is signposted on the A841, four miles north of Blackwaterfoot. Parking is tricky but there is just about room to squeeze onto the verge near the house.

The others stayed in the car out of the persistent rain whilst I walked through the garden of the house and through a wooden gate. This led into a field of wheat. I walked down the side of the field and came to a barbed wire fence and rusty gate.

Into the next field of curious cows who immediately came charging over to me. This could be disconcerting for a lot of people but I had been in this position many times before and knew that they would stop just before me (at least I hoped they would!) This they did and with much mooing they followed me to the end of the field. From this point the ground became little more than bog (where have you heard that before?!) I sank ankle deep in cow pat splattered slime and mud. I wish I had brought my wellies on holiday this year!

Despite being an Historic Scotland site there were none of the usual black and white posts to guide you. Just keep heading down hill towards the sea and you will see it.

There is an Historic Scotland information board which seemed out of character given how un-visitor friendly it was to get here. Although only a 15 minute walk, H.S. could make this far easier for visitors. Your average day-tripper would have no chance of getting here. I am surprised these are the first TMA field notes though.

The fort consists of a large, flat topped grass mound. It looked very much like a Norman motte. The site dominated the surrounding countryside and would have been very visible to anyone passing by sea.

That's another H.S. site ticked off the list. Now, for that yucky walk/squelch back to the car.
Posted by CARL
28th July 2015ce

Lamlash Stone Circle — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.15

What a nightmare this turned out to be!

For the second consecutive day the rain came down, down, down. I was still a bit damp from yesterday's exploring. First effort to find this circle failed but I was determined to give it one more go before it was time to leave this lovely (from the birts I could see through the rain and mist) island.

Look out for the sign on the opposite side of the road for Cnod Na Dial forestry. You can easily park opposite this sign in a large graveled area. From this parking area a track goes off into the trees and a wooden sign offers you a couple of different route options. Ignore all of these - they don't go to the circle.

This is what you need to do: Either-
Walk back to the road, turn right and walk about 50m and crash your way through the chest high ferns and undergrowth and hope you can see the tops of the stones -or-
From the parking area crash your way through the head high ferns and undergrowth aiming for an angle between the parking space and the road and hope you can see the tops of the stones.

How can a stone circle so close to the road be so difficult to find? It is not visible from either the road or the parking are even though it is only a matter of yards away.

On the way to the circle I went via the parking are - big mistake. The ferns were mega high (I noticed several large prostrate stones covered in moss. For a moment I thought the circle had been destroyed!) and the way was hard going. As the ground dropped down I walked into a bog and sank shin deep in blackish water. This whole area was pretty much under water. Too late now. I carried on. Just as I was on the verge of giving up I spotted the top of a large boulder-type stone - success!

The circle is on a low ridge so at least it was out of the water - other than the torrential rain falling. The circle is totally grown over and clearly has not been visited or looked after in a very long time. I counted 6 stones of various sizes, all boulder-type stones. The mist and rain certainly increased the atmosphere but tide and ferry time tables wait for no man (or woman for that matter).

There was no way I was going back the way I came so I headed straight for the road (which you can't see due to the undergrowth and trees). I battled my way through and although very wet underfoot was nowhere near as bad as the way I had come. By the time I got back to the car I did a little dance and splashed about in the puddles and rain (much to the amusement of the children and the disbelief of Karen) I couldn't be any wetter.

Whilst waiting for the ferry I had the good fortune to watch two otters on the beach. One in the water and the other running around the rocks. The ignored me. Apparently there are loads of otters on Arran (as well as red squirrels - which I didn't see) and they are a common sight all around the island.

Arran is a lovely place to visit and my stay was all too short. Most of the sites I visited were short distances from the road but most had a sense of wilderness about them. Pretty much left to look after themselves. Normally this wouldn't be such a bad thing but given the appalling weather it made most visits very wet and muddy.

I will definitely visit Arran again. There is so much to see, I barely scratched the surface. Hopefully the next time I come I may see the sun - and a red squirrel (apparently they don't like the rain either!)
Posted by CARL
28th July 2015ce

Stronach (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 27.7.15

There is a parking space pretty much next to the stone (same side of road). The stone is large, approximately 3m (2.5 wheelie bins!) Two of which (black and green) were being guarded by this impressive stone. I wonder what the ancients would have thought? At least it is still with us, and will be long after the last wheelie bin has been collected.
Posted by CARL
28th July 2015ce

Machrie Moor — Fieldnotes

Visited 26.7.15

Am I really the first TMAer to visit Machrie Moor stone circles in a decade? It doesn't seem possible.

Where to start? - at the begining I suppose?

The weather was awful, alternating between light showers and heavy rain, with just the occasional dry patch designed to lure you into a false sense of security! The others stayed in the sign posted car park as I headed up the track to the many delights of Machrie Moor. 'I won't be long' - famous last words!

it takes about half an hour to walk from the car park to the stone circles - depending on how long to stop to look at the other sites along the way.

The first circle you come to is the double circle made up of large boulder-type stones. This is a real 'wow' moment when you first see it. Most of the stones remain and it is very impressive. It looked to me the circle was erected on a low stony mound?

The second circle you see is smaller and made up of four large boulder-type stones which are surrounded by ferns. Bit of gardening required here I think. This is a nice circle in its own right but totally dwarfed by its near neighbors.

The third circle is a mind-blower. It consists of 3 HUGE standing stones, approximately 4m high, and two very strange large flat round stones, like large flat mill stones. What are they about? I have never seen stones like this before at any prehistoric site I have ever visited - and I have been to a few. Are they prehistoric? If so, they must be unique? Very strange indeed. The 3 standing stones are incredible. It reminded me of being back on Orkney - they are that good. When complete this circle must have been awe inspiring.

The fourth circle consists of 12 stones. Alternating between large round boulder-type stones and smaller thin stones. A bit like the Laurel and Hardy of the prehistoric world. This was obviously deliberate and I can't remember visiting any other circle with this arrangement?

The fifth circle consists of 10 small stones. Half of the circle was standing in water - bog-type conditions. This was the only circle it was difficult to walk around due to the 'swamp' - although I gave it a go!

Lastly, circle number six. This circle consists of a couple of very tall standing stones and one monster-sized stone. It is exceptional in its height and beauty. Like most of the stones here it has grooves worn into it by countless rains and is covered with hairy lichen. Near it is several very large fallen prostrate stones. I can't even imagine how good this stone circle must have looked when first erected.

Despite the awful weather, this site blew me away. The setting of the distant hills, the number and quality of the sites here is incredible. This is in the A list of prehistoric sites. I would put it up there with Avebury, Kilmartin, Orkney and Callanish. It is that good. These notes are no doubt doing it a disservice.

Due to the weather and the fact I was conscious of the others waiting patiently n the car I was only able to give Machrie Moor the briefest of visits. It deserves so much more. A full day here would not be unreasonable. When I got back to the car it was pointed out I had been gone two hours! Machrie Moor is that type of place. Save your pennies, sell the family heir looms, do what it takes but catch the ferry to the lovely island of Arran and visit this special place. It really is something special.
Posted by CARL
27th July 2015ce

Moss Farm (Chambered Tomb) — Fieldnotes

Visited 26.7.15

Since Hob's visit the bracken has been removed from around the remains of this cairn and it is easy to see on the right of the path leading to the stone circles. It is only a short detour. Access is via a wooden stile.

The standing stone is large, weathered (grooved) and covered in hairy lichen. There are also several other large stones remaining from this once (no doubt) impressive tomb.

Of the people 'oot and aboot' today I was the only one to come ans say 'hello' to this fine standing stone - which is a shame. It is well worth the very short walk to get to it. Another nice stone in this fantastic place.
Posted by CARL
27th July 2015ce

Moss Farm Road (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Visited 26.7.15

This is the first site you come to when walking up the path from the car park towards the famous stone circles. It is an Historic Scotland site and as such has metal railings around it and an information board. It is a 15 minute walk from the car park - about the half way point to the stone circles.

There are several large kerb stones still in place and the large, low, grass covered stony mound is clear to see. The cairn is in a lovely setting with mountains in the distance. If this cairn was anywhere else it would get a lot more attention than it does here. The draw of the stone circles move people on far too quickly.

This is a very nice site.
Posted by CARL
27th July 2015ce

Moss Farm North (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Visited 26.7.15

The stone is easily seen (on your right) when walking back from the circles towards the car park. There is no path to the stone and you have to jump over a low fence to get to it.

Although ignored by the other visitors today this is a fine stone with excellent sea views. Like most of the stones on Machrie Moor it is grooved by thousands of years of rain. The stone is approximately 1.5m high.

Hob will be pleased tp know that the wooden fence surrounding the memorial has already fallen to bits!

This stone is well worth checking out when visiting the more famous stone circles. It is only a short walk from the main track.
Posted by CARL
27th July 2015ce

Moss Farm II (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 26.7.15

The path to the stone circles takes you past the remains of this chambered cairn. It is to the immediate right of the path. It is impossible to miss - although everyone else out today walked past it without giving it a second glance!

Although there are only two stones remaining they are large. The end stone is approximately 1m square whilst the side stone is about 1m x 2m long. They sit on a long low mound of grassed over stones, approximately 3m wide x 10m long.

There's not much left, but what there is is nice.
Posted by CARL
27th July 2015ce
Showing 1-10 of 29,763 posts. Most recent first | Next 10