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.

Caisteal Grugaig, Totaig broch, Loch Duich

Caisteal Grugaig

Caisteal Grugaig’s forestry commission notice board.

Caisteal Grugaig also known as Dun Totaig sits half way up a hill at the meeting of three lochs. Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh and also has spectacular views of Eilean Donan castle to the east and the Isle of Skye to the west and north with its iconic bridge away in the distance.

It’s a lovely walk to Totaig along the west side of Loch Duich from Shiel bridge, about 8 miles approximately. There is a single track road, peppered with lonely crofts, cottages and holiday homes, which you can drive along to the old (disused) ferry slipway at Totaig. Though parking there is very limited and it is better to park about a mile back and walk the last part. It is a heavily wooded area all along the road and around the area of the broch itself. The Ratagan forest covers most of the journey and many of the trees around the broch have been culled in recent years. From the Totaig slipway you have a mile long walk up a constantly rising pathway uphill to the broch and above, where you can see the many wonderful views in the area. The hill is called ‘Faire an Duine’ or the Watchplace of the Tower.

On the way to the broch before you pass Totaig you will see at the lochside some ancient cup marks and a lovely view of the backside of Eilean Donan castle… see pictures below.

Being situated on forestry commission land the broch is under their care and is not maintained in the way some commonly known historic properties are, which may not be a bad thing. In summer you will have to trudge through the bracken for the last 50 yards or so, but as the visitor numbers rise in spring and summer much of the bracken around the broch gets flattened, making a visit easier.

There is a tale of the Witch of Grugaig who lived in the broch and had two (giant) sons, Telve and Troddan, which is the name of the two brochs in Glenelg over the other side of the hill.

Caisteal Grugaig is a great visit especially if you enjoy a walk, which is superb, take a packed lunch and make the best of it. Below is a map to the broch..


You can find more in-depth historical data on Caisteal Grugaig by visiting Camore’s webpage..


Caisteal Grugaig slideshow…

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Some of the spectacular views from Caisteal Grugaig…

Here is a laser scan survey undertaken for Forestry Commission Scotland of the broch…. see below…


Glenelg brochs, Dùn Teilbh agus Dùn Trodan

The Glenelg brochs, Dùn Teilbh agus Dùn Trodan to give them their Gaelic names, spoken by many folk in Glenelg and the language of the Western Highlands.

Dun Telve and Dun Troddan are two fine examples of brochs and situated within 500 yards of each other. Dun Telve lies low in the glen and Dun Troddan is up on a small rise just along the single track road. You get two brochs for the price of one journey to Glenelg.

Here are the respective Canmore records for the brochs…



Both of the brochs are Historic Scotland properties and here is their webpage…


Dùn Teilbh slideshow….

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Dùn Trodan slideshow…..

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Glenelg (Glinn Eilg) is a wee gem of a place and you could easily spend a whole day there, weather permitting. There is also a superb beach with stunning views and another waiting historical visit is the Bernera barracks build by the British to subdue the Jacobite clans and control movement to and from the Isle of Skye, though care should be taken here as the building is in a dangerous condition and there are warning signs telling you not to enter it.

Link to Brenera barracks –


There are so many activities that you can do in Glenelg I would advice a good trawl through the Internet before you go, as you may miss something you’ll regret later… start here – http://www.glenelgscotland.com/

A Google map link to Glenelg – https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@57.2139096,-5.620333,15z

Oh and finally, for those of you who are fascinated by all things planetary. Glenelg is the only place on Earth to be twinned with a place on another planet…. Glenelg, Mars..


Clickimin broch, Lerwick, Shetland

Clickimin broch

Clickimin broch, Historic Scotland’s notice board

Clickimin broch can be found on the outskirts of Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Isles. It is probably the second best preserved broch on Shetland, which is only beaten by the broch of Mousa on the Island of Mousa, about 14m South of Lerwick. It is one of the historic Scotland’s properties and access is free.

Here is a link to Historic Scotland’s Clickimin broch page –


Canmore has a lot of historical detail on the broch and many old photographs and drawings of the early excavations from the past… click the link below to visit the canmore page…


Here is a google map link to direct you to Clickimin’s location..


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Below is a wee video, provided by Shetland roots, a family history site. http://www.shetlandroots.org