Culshabbin and the May; and Drumblair and Garheugh

Another week of survey got off to a great start on Monday. AOC’s Gemma and team surveyed the area around Culshabbin, south of the B7005, while Charlotte and team headed north of the road to The May.

Charlotte’s group surveyed three cairns in various states. The first took the form of a stony pile in the middle of a field, which had had many large boulders placed on top of it in recent years. The second took the form of a round, flat, grassy platform approximately 16m in diameter; and the third, known as Court Cairn, was barely distinguishable save for the remains of a shepherd’s pile recorded there in the Name Book of 1848. Also according to the Name Book, the Court Cairn is so called as criminals were traditionally brought there for trial. Apparently the Marquis of Bute undertook the excavation of a number of local cairns in the 1940s, but there are no known records of his findings.


May Farm is also home to a lovely cross-slab. Ordnance Survey’s records from 1976 state that it sat in the side wall of an outbuilding, approximately 3m above the ground. Try as we might, we could find no such stone until the farmer kindly pointed us in the right direction. The original building had fallen down, and the cross-slab was repositioned during the repair of a second outbuilding. It now sits in the north-eastern corner of a building, about 2m above the ground, with a date slab reading 1948 beneath. What seemed to be a fragment of millstone had also been built into the same wall at ground level. The date slab also had some graffiti carved into it: what looked like JA, then S or &, and then WiLSON.

The Cross Slab in the building wall

At the end of the day, Charlotte’s group walked west from May Farm to Doon of May, a prehistoric vitrified fort in dense forest. Vitrification involves the burning of a stone structure, which effectively melts the stone into large, globular masses.

Tuesday saw Charlotte’s group head to Drumblair Farm, where there are numerous field systems, clearance cairns, enclosures and possible hut circles. The highlight, however, was a burnt mound positioned on the south bank of a burn.

Gemma and her team spent Monday south of the B7005 in Culshabbin looking at a number of cairns.  The first site seemed like an uneven stone pile until on closer inspection a series of kerb stones in a semi-circular alignment were discovered.  This find was only trumped by the finding of a square cist lined with large stones further down the track to Corwall.   A number of ruinous cairns were also visited but were unfortunately piled up with additional field clearance rubble on top covering any distinguishable features.  Tuesday was spent crossing the head-dyke separating Drumblair and Garheugh and visiting prehistoric enclosures and field-systems.  The team were thoroughly confused by the amount of rock present in the landscape with many walls of different ages running into each other and across other features in the landscape.

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