Elgin Cathedral… and its Pictish Stone

Elgin Cathedral… and its Pictish Stone

Elgin Cathedral is in the care of Historic Scotland and more information can be found here –


The Cathedral has a long history, learn more here –


Elgin Cathedral Slideshow

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The Pictish Stone at Elgin Cathedral was put within the site in 1823 when it was discovered nearby beside St Giles Kirk in the High street. It is a magnificant cross slab and is adorned with the well known and loved Pictish symbols; double-disc and Z-rod, crescent and V-rod above a hunting scene on one side and a cross on the reverse.

Some historical detail can be found here –


The Pictish Stone Slideshow

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Elgin Cathedral is open all year round with a few differences to the timetable in winter. It is well worth a visit and there are numerous other historic sites in the area to make it a day to remember.


The Clava Cairns… A 4500 year old graveyard

Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns are a surreal and haunting place to visit, walking into the graves at Balnuaran of Clava gives you a feeling of peace, serenity and foreboding, especially if you visit in the dead of winter when we did. It also has that spiritual feeling, that feeling you get when you know you’ve arrived at a special place.

Balnuaran of Clava or commonaly known as the Clava Cairns can be found a mile or so south of the Culloden battlefield and is often missed by the many who visit the battlefield. A pity really because it is a treat indeed and a place to rest and contemplate the bloody slaughter which you just realised had happened at Culloden field a wee bit up the road. You can imagine the Injured and dying soldiers who escaped the “bayoneting of the wounded” reaching Clava and deciding to rest there and wait for the end to come in the peaceful surroundings of the revered ancient stones.

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When you reach the cairn at the south east end of the area, i was saddened to see that many years ago the road builders had obviously cut a new road right through the very corner of the site and had put the road between a few standing stones and the cairn itself. Fortunately it wasn’t distroyed, but a few standing stones were moved slightly out of alignment to protect them from further damage, see the picture below.

Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns

You can find Balnuaran of Clava here –


The site is in the care of Historic Scotland –


You will find more detailed historical information in the link below –


Finally, there are many stories and tales of Balnuaran of Clava with the many added superstitions, Locals will tell not to visit at night-time. Even a Belgian tourist who stole a stone from Clava was convinced he had suffered the Curse of Clava.. he eventually returned a stone he stole… you can read his story here –


Sueno’s Stone, A giant stone carving

Sueno's Stone,

Sueno’s Stone

Sueno’s Stone is not only the giant of stone carving in Scotland, but is also a superb survivor. It sits in its large glass house like a monument to the Scots and Picts as it dates from around the time when both cultures were clashing and merging into the new country of Alba.

Sitting proudly at 6.5 metres (21 feet) high, it can be found on the edge of Forres in Moray in the north east of Scotland, about 22 miles east from the battlefield of Culloden. The road sign posts take you down a residential area until you reach a dead end and the Stones resting place.

The Stone appears on Timothy Pont’s Mapp of Murray (c 1590), the military maps of Roy 1750 and Ainslie 1789 and Robert Campbell’s map of 1790. These maps all show that there was another stone beside it, but has since disappeared.

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How to get there –


There is much information available on the Sueno’s Stone and well worth a read before you visit it, some of which is detailed below —




The stone’s fame has even made its way into the world of Scottish country dancing with the dance known as Sueno’s Stone. http://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/video/suenos-stone.html

Rubha an Dùnain, A walk through history.

Rubha an Dùnain in Gleann Breadail or Rubh’ an Dunain in Glen Brittle a Peninsula on the south coast of the Isle of Skye.

Rubha an Dùnain, Galleried Broch

Rubha an Dùnain, Galleried Broch

Rubh’ an Dunain sits to the south of the Cuillin mountains and juts out into Cuillin sound with Loch Brittle to the north-west and the Isle of Soay to the south-east. It’s a wild (now uninhabited) part of the coast and is only populated by wildlife, which includes Stags and sea eagles with otters, seals, Minke whales, basking sharks and dolphins swimming around. Despite the fact that it is now only inhabited by wildlife the peninsula was populated since neolithic time until the clearances and as you walk towards the tip you will see the historic evidence everywhere. A Neolithic passage grave, an Iron age chambered cairn, a galleried Broch (or semi-broch), a cave repeatedly used since Neolithic times, a big long dry stane dyke traversing the peninsula from one side to the other…. oh and I nearly forgot the Viking ship canal….
There is an abandoned highland township and the remains of numerous
scattered crofts of the MacAskill’s,  a sept of the Clan MacLeod. They were given Rubh’ an Dùnain by the MacLeod cheiftans for their loyalty and fierceness in battle and were designated “coast watchers” to protect that area of Skye from invasion from other clans (chiefly the MacDonalds).

The Broch, Viking ship canal, chambered cairn and the MacAskill township.

There is a lot of Information available on the net and elsewhere on the many and varied historical sites on Rubh’ an Dunain, so check it out before you travel, you do not want to miss anything… Here is a short list of sites to get you started…

The Rubh’ an Dunain slideshow….

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To experience Rubh’ an Dunain you’ll need a good pair of walking boots as it is a good long walk around the area..and definitely a day trip, so take a bag with food and plenty liquids. There is also a car park and a campsite at the end of the road, where you can park before the walk or even stay the night. It can be very windy so be prepared in case the weather takes a turn, which is common on highland walks, but if you love history, wildlife and walking you’re in for a treat you’ll never forget. Here’s a walking guide..with good GPS and google earth files.

And as a final thought before you go.. I lost a black woolen “Braveheart” tammie on the walk through Rubh’ an Dunain, so if you find it… keep it. It was given to me in 1995 after the premier of the film… by someone famous…

Eilean Munde, an Island graveyard…

Grave of Macdonald of Glencoe

Grave of Macdonald of Glencoe

Eilean Munde can be found in Loch Leven by Ballachulish in Glencoe. There are two smaller Islands close by called Eilean a’ Chomhraidh (the Isle of Discussion) and the tiny sgeir an eilein.
Eilean Munde is a graveyard, the burial isle for the Stewarts of Ballachulish & Ardsheal, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, the Camerons of Callart, the Appin Stewarts and others from the Glencoe area. Alasdair MacDonald (MacIain of Glencoe) was buried here after the Glencoe massacre of 1692. (see image above).
St. Fintan Mundus (also known as Saint Fintan Munnu), built a small chapel on the island in the 7th century, It was burnt around 1495 and rebuilt again in the 16th century. The remains of the chapel can still be seen there.
The vast majority of the grave stones are made from Ballachulish slate, from the Laroch quarries that were close by. They started quarrying slate there only two years after the massacre of Glencoe in 1694 and continued until 1955.
Getting to the island presents a challenge as it obviously can only be reached by boat and the waters around the island can be unpredictable at times. The local kayak centre were kind on the day we traveled there, despite the choppy waters and took us across on a small boat for a very reasonable fee, especially considering the water conditions that day.

For myself the Glencoe area has a personal resonance, as my great Grandmother (Annie MacDonald) came from here, but for others coming here there is so much you can do and see, historical or otherwise. Don’t miss out on it, It’s one of those places you need to see and experience when you visit the Highlands..

More historical information can be found in these links below –

Eilean Munde – http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/23541/details/eilean+munde+st+mund+s+chapel/
The massacre of Glencoe – http://digital.nls.uk/scotlandspages/timeline/1692.htmlhttp://digital.nls.uk/scotlandspages/timeline/16922.html
Ballachulish slate – http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/23552/details/ballachulish+slate+quarries/

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Getting there? here’s a Grid Reference map – http://www.gridreferencefinder.com/os.php?x=208432&y=759192&lt=56.685088&lg=-5.1292620

Corrimony Chambered Cairn


Corrymony chambered cairn

Corrimony chambered cairn

Corrimony chambered cairn.

Visiting Corrimony chambered cairn is an easy task (if you have your own transport) as it is situated just 8 miles west from Drumnadrochit near Inverness, home to the famous Loch Ness, Nessie the monster and the renowned Urquhart Castle. It’s a
lovely area, but the many tourists miss out on Corrimony when their busses drive passed Corrimony on the way to scenic Glen Affric and Cannich along the A831. The A831 runs along the north side of the river Enrick until it comes to a sign posted
single track road, which is a dead-end, but takes you along the south side of the river Enrick to the cairn.
It is a peaceful spot and not busy with tourists, so you should have time to relax, while you imagine what it may have been like 4000 years ago when they were building the cairn or witnessing a burial.

Corrimony chambered Cairn is a passage grave similar to the Clava type dating from around the 3rd Millenium BC, the neolithic period and was built for collective burials.

More historical detail can be found here –


You can find Corrimony here –



Corrimony Chambered Cairn slide show…

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If you’re spending the day in the area, close by is the Corrimony RSPB Nature Reserve, which you can find here –


Both these sites are free to visit and you can donate on site if you wish.

Jarlshof, Shetland… A history overdose…

Jarlshof, Shetland… Over 4000 years of History on one site


Historic Scotland, notice board

I’ve visited many historical sites all over Scotland, but Jarlshof has to be up there as one of the best in terms of the amount of layers of history that sit right on top or beside the previous layer or even a layer that had been vacant for millennia.

Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, a broch, a wheelhouse, Norse long house, medieval farm, 16th century laird’s house. This place is a history overdose, you won’t want to leave, even if the biting wind and rain are hitting you from both sides, Atlantic on one side and the North Sea on the other.

If you want more historical information, please visit the link below…


Jarlshof can be found right beside Sumburgh Airport in the very south of the Shetland Isles, where the Atlantic ocean and the North sea clash. It’s only a very short walk to it and right next to the Sumburgh hotel, where you can get a welcoming hot bowl of soup or a coffee on a cold day. I visited in late autumn, but the spring and summer are the best for those who are not used to the cold Scottish autumns or winters.

Here is a link to the area..


And the link to Historic Scotland’s page on Jarlshof…


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Finally, here is a short computer generated film by Kieran Baxter tells the story of settlement at Jarlshof in the Shetland Islands