Scotland Travel Blog March 09

"Standing Stones of Kilmartin Glen"

It is a fair measure of how busy we have been that I'm only just getting around to writing the March travel diary on the 20th of April!!! The demand for Customised Tour Itineraries has been constant and we haven't had one day off since the start of April.

Actually I did manage a day away from the office to do a long drive down to Galloway and the "Machars" whilst researching new driving routes that would visit the early Christian sites related to ST Ninian in the Whithorn area. However, I'm not sure that 220 miles of driving in a day can really count as a day off.

St Ninians Chapel near Whithorn

Getting back to our touring exploits in March. We headed over to one of our favourite parts of Scotland to tour around the Knapdale area of Argyll. Our visit to Knapdale was prompted by an invitation from Katy Crowson of the Kilmartin House Museum. This museum has been running for several years and has won awards for its exhibitions that explain the history behind the many prehistoric and iron age monuments that the Kilmartin Glen is famous for. An interesting aspect of the museum is the way that it has been designed to be child friendly. Instead of lots of glass cases with "Please don't Touch" signs everywhere, Kilmartin Museum positively encourages children to explore and feel the exhibits. It is only a small museum, but is worthdoing as an introductory part of a visit to the historical sites of the Glen.

Kilmartin Glen Museum beehive dwelling

Kilmartin Glen exhibition

Which leads me on nicely to the visit to Nether Largie Cairns and Temple Wood. I can recall visiting these monuments with my Uncle when I was about 14, and I have a clear memory of him telling me about seeing a ghostly rider crossing the ridge that runs behind Templewood. I've yet to find other records of this ghost story, but given the dark history of nearby Carnassarie Castle, it would seem quite possible that ghosts would linger here!

Templewood Cairn in Kilmartin Glen

Adjacent to the burial chambers at Nether Largie Cairns are six large standing stones that demonstrate the amazing astronomical awareness of the early inhabitants of Kilmartin Glen. The Alignment of these stones coincide with "standstills" of the lunar cycle (i.e. the southernmost and northernmost setting points of the moon on the horizon). Lining these stones up would have taken quite a bit of patience as the moon only sets in this position once every 19 years! We'll go back in midsummer and try to get you some pictures, might manage a wee pagan festival too!

Burial cist at Nether Largie south cairn

Nether Largie Standing Stones

A nice addition on this trip was the company of my parents who also share our love for the Knapdale area. My Mum proved valuable with her knowledge of unmarked backroads that allowed us to bypass traffic delays at a road block! Even more impressive as the last time she'd been on the particular back road was sometime in the early 1950's.

 

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