Argyll & Bute

  • Friday 11th March 2022
  • Argyll & Bute

Knapdale is a beautiful and unspoilt area of Argyll, bounded to the south by the Kintyre peninsula and to the north by the Crinan Canal. Its coastline is deeply indented by a series of sea lochs. Perhaps the most beautiful of these is Loch Sween, which stretches north from the Sound of Jura.

We visited Tayvallich a small village sitting in this area. The village name has its origins in Gaelic, and means the “house of the pass”. 

This picturesque, fishing village is situated on the shores of Loch Sween built around a sheltered harbor.

Looking across to Tayvallich

A settlement is known to have existed at Tayvallich from at least the 1750s when it would have been a resting place on the track that ran the length of the peninsula to the Jura ferry at Keillmore.

Its a popular yachting haven with its spectacular scenery.  There is a beach just across at Carsaig Bay and many forestry walks in and around the peninsula.

From here we drove to an area known as Kilmartin Glen, Britains richest archeological landscape.   Massive stone cairns built over 3500 years ago scatter the landscape where important people were buried.  We were at Nether Largie South.

This mound of stones hides a Neolithic chamber tomb one of the earliest monuments in Kilmatin Glen, Nether Largie South
Inside the chamber
Standing Stones

We then decided to check out the Dunchraigaig Cairn.

This is a large Bronze Age cairn with three cists, and nearby some impressive standing stones and rock carvings.

Surrounded by trees, this large cairn was built in the early Bronze Age, about 4000 years ago. When it was excavated in 1864, three stone lined graves or cists were discovered. The most unusual of these cists is the one covered by a massive capstone. It contained the remains of up to ten people, along with a whetstone, a greenstone axe and a flint knife.

From here there was a wet and muddy grassy path out to the Baluachcraig cup and ring marks and over to the impressive Ballymeanoch standing stones.

Ballymeanoch Standing Stones
Standing Stones

The Baluachcraig site shows mysteriously carved symbols into rock faces where our ancestors carved them, perhaps as much as 5,000 years ago.

The Baluachraig Rock Art is among a range of prehistoric carvings and monuments in Kilmartin Glen. They’re pleasingly simple and their meaning still remains unknown.

Rock Art

The designs are mostly hollows, or cups, some of them surrounded by one or more rings.

We were then off to Dunadd Fortress one of the most important sites in Scottish and Irish history.  Sitting proud in a raised bog of Moine Mhor this was chosen as the royal capital of the erliest Scottish kingdom, home of the Dalriada.

Dunadd Fortress

Today, this area is often viewed as remote, but over 1500 years ago it was the cradle of Scotland, a springboard for an emerging country.  Royalty who lived here were well connected in contact with important groups and individuals.  Sea, sailors and ships played a big role.

Entering through the ‘front door’ of the fortress

Kings from Ireland came here in the early 6th century AD.  Known as the Scotti, they eventually gave their name to Scotland.

St Columba, the early christian monk crowned King Aiden as the first Christian King of Scotland here. 

The royal centre had strong links to the spiritual centre of Iona, 37 miles west.  St Columba was granted his island here by King Comgall in 563 AD.

We walked up to the summit and looked at the old walls and terraces.  We also saw mysterious carvings, footprints and inscriptions.

The inauguration stone where kings were made – footprint is where the kings placed their foot to signal domination over the ancient landscape and his commitment to taking care of his people
Circled ‘The boar’, Pictish emblem can you see it?
Old well

Then we were off to Inverery for the evening a beautiful, picturesque little town on the western shore of Loch Fyne.

This town was built on the site of an earlier fishing village in the mid 1700s by the 3rd Duke of Argyll, Chief of the powerful Clan Campbell.

He demolished the original village to give his rebuilt castle more space, and rehoused the population in a new town that is one of the most attractive in Scotland so its said.

Inveraray Jail and courthouse, now an award-winning museum that graphically recounts prison conditions from medieval times up until the 19th century

We visited Inveraray Castle which remains the family home of the Duke of Argyll. The castle is set in extensive grounds which contain a number of marked walks, its a very beautiful area and its one stunning castle.

The fairytale Castle that is Inverary

This castle has recently pushed back into the public eye by appearing in a three-part mini TV series,  A Very British Scandal.  The story centres on events surrounding the notorious divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll during the 1960s.  Some scenes were filmed around Inveraray Castle.

Bridge into Castle with monument on top of the hill at the back right – Dùn na Cuaiche
Inverary Castle

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