Scottish Megarak Meet

Creiff and half of Perthshire, June 1st 2003

For once, I was the first to arrive at a Megarak meet - possibly something to do with having agreed to pick up Andy on the way. We turned into the car park in Crieff at ten to ten, on a gloriously sunny morning. Andy stepped from the car and donned his hat, the rallying signal. Almost immediately, Milgi appeared as if from nowhere, and after a round of introductions and swapping of various stories, we enjoyed the sunshine and waited. Not for long, though as we were treated to the sight of Martin driving round and round the car park, trying desperately to establish where he was by use of the dashboard GPS... He made it eventually, and again we waited to see who else might show. We waited... and waited... and at half past ten, decided that we appeared to be all who were coming. A quick decision to use one car (the big red beast) and off we went to Crieff Golf Course, first site visit of the day.

Andy demonstrates his sartorial elegance

What the well-dressed megarak around town wears...

Ferntower is the remains of a four poster with outliers, and lies off the second fairway, called (with the usual stunning originality) Druid's. Dropping the name of the club secretary and muttering something about an archaeological survey, we bull-shitted our way onto the course, astounding several golfers due to our markedly non-golfing attire. The stones are interesting, and one has a small cup mark which we endeavoured to photograph. Canmore disputes the height of the main stone, so Milgi demonstrated the professional archaeologist's approach to such matters, much to our amusement.

I may be short but I'm nearly as big as this one!

Milgi demonstrates the professional measuring technique

Back to the car and we headed for the Sma' Glen, where there are a couple of interesting sites. The Giant's Grave is a large stone, perhaps an erratic, which is variously described as the grave site of a Roman Soldier or one of Wade's road builders. Close by, however, is a cairn circle and mound which Andy had perused the Canmore notes on. No sign of the stones supposed to surround it - until we started to pull back the turf at the base. And there they were, eleven large stones circling the mound, which is only a metre or so tall. Success!

A bit further up the glen is Clach Ossian, Ossian's Stone. We stopped here and looked at this large relic, which prior to Wade's colonialising road-building activities covered a cist, which contained human remains. This is a pretty imposing boulder, surrounded by the remains of a dyke and bypassed by traces of Wade's road. Martin bemoaned his lack of hair as a protective cover from the sun, so Milgi kindly loaned him some of hers. Various attempts also were made to get a group photo here, with slightly amusing results...

the megarak alternative to sun screen

Martin borrows some hair...

and if I just twist it this way a little bit....

Nick suffers for his art...

Success!  Nick, Milgi, Andy and Martin

The official Megarak group photo!

From here we headed to Clach na Tiompan, looking at the River Almond four poster first, then back to the chambered cairn and finally Clach na Tiompan itself. When I had been here previously, I had mistaken this for a single standing stone. Andy had been doing his homework, however, and a stone I originally mistook for clearance rubble turned out to be the stump of another piece of this one-time four poster. Scrabbling in the turf revealed the existence of a third, now recumbent stone. Yet another success! The sun was beating down, we were getting hungry and thirsty, so time to find a picnic site.

Croft Moraig proved to be the ideal choice. After roaming around this interesting double circle, the picnic hampers were broken out and established near the cup marked recumbent stone. Following the usual rounds of sandwiches etcetera, it was time for the whole point of these meets - puddings! And here Milgi excelled - not only had she brought a home-baked apple pie, but that most innovative of ideas - a thermos full of hot custard! A veritable feast was enjoyed, marred only by a certain amount of bickering about who got to scrape out the last traces of custard from the flask. Needless to say, Andy won, having brought not only his usual two spoons, but in addition a very long-handled one... is he psychic? Following a post-prandial discussion on various matters archaeological, during which Andy befriended a small irridescent beetle, we agreed the day had so far been a total success. We had reached lunch and visited every site on the agenda so far!

Always the high point of the day - puddings!

Puddings - with hot custard!

Down the road just a short way are the Newhall Bridge stones, set in a landscape of harebells, which gave a magnificent blue/green setting. We drove down to have a look at Taymouth Castle whilst we were here, a strange old pile with a magnificent wrought-iron staircase at the side. Then on down the road towards Acharn.

We decided to cheat on this one. No point in having a 4x4 and walking all that way, we were all a bit leg-weary already. So up the track we trundled, past the falls, Andy (having been designated youngest and fittest) leaping in and out of the car as we negotiated the various gates. We parked a way below the circle and walked up. The views from here are absolutely magnificent, though our appreciation of this somewhat disrupted circle (there's a wall built through it...) was spoilt by the discovery of a very recent small 'altar' type construction in the centre. It's not there now... On the way back down we stopped to admire the falls, a sheer drop of nearly 30 metres - quite a sight.

Next on the agenda was Machuim, beside the village of Lawers. This mound and disrupted circle has an 'Aberdeen' feel to it. There's a certain amount of field clearance here, but the small, tight circle and several of the surrounding kerb stones still have a nice atmosphere around them. Off along the road to Fortingall, where we tramped around a field containing a long cairn and various ramparts (possibly Roman in origin) and splashed what remained of our water on a long rock with a number of large cup marks on it, in an attempt to photograph them properly. Then a brief ponder over a circular feature labelled Pontius Pilate's Grave - everything round here gets blamed on him. There was a small standing stone in the adjacent field to the south, but we didn't enter as the ewes had not yet lambed - so just hung over the fence and took our photographs.

Martin and Andy do their best 'pondering' poses

Megaraks ponder about Pontius...

Into the village in search of liquid refreshment, we discovered that Perthshire is shut on Sundays... so a quick look at the Fortingall Yew, admired the cross slab remnants in the Kirk, a wander around the graveyard and a long and interesting discussion with a couple of German tourists who were quite amazed at our idea of fun! Then it was back via Aberfeldy, where a hostelry was stormed in search of vast amounts of fluid replenishment and a chance to admire our sunburn... Back to Crieff, where the parting of the ways took place as we all headed off in various directions. I assume the others got home OK!

An excellent day out, and we stuck to the agenda all the way through. That's the last time Andy gets to plan a day out! His view of the day can be read here.

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