Tuesday, 19 March 2013


I have a map of Arran with symbols depicting the main tourist sites, and one thing that stands out is the number of ancient sites which appear at regular intervals along the south-west portion of the island's coast. One of these is at Machrie Moor, which is home to six stone circles in varying degrees of collapse. Many of the stones have fallen, but some are still standing, most notably a group of three stones in reddish sandstone which comprise circle No. 2, the tallest of which is 18 feet in height. This is in marked contrast to the double circle No. 5, otherwise known as Fingal's Cauldron Seat, which is formed from low granite boulders in two concentric rings, the outer of which is more oval in shape. Fingal, or Fionn MacCuill as he is known by his Gaelic name, was a legendary giant and warrior, and according to local lore he used a stone with a hole in it in the outer circle to tether his dogs while he ate a meal in the inner ring. Some people have suggested that the double circle served as the focus of the site. The stones are reached from the main A841 road via the farm track known as Moss Farm Road - the walk from the small car park provided for visitors is just over a mile. Surprisingly for such an eminent ancient site, there is no Visitor Centre, but there are Historic Scotland information boards to help visitors interpret the site. Nearby Machrie Bay is home to a stunningly situated golf course with fabulous views across the Kilbrannan Sound to the Kintyre Peninsula. Anyone wanting to visit Machrie from the island's main town, Brodick, can reach it via the scenic String Road, built by Thomas Telford in 1817 to connect the east and west coasts.

Map of the area.

Photo by John Mason, via Wikimedia Commons

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