Machrie Moor: Scotland’s Menagerie Of Ancient Monuments

Standing stones on Machrie Moor 📷 Walk Highlands

Wherever you go, you can be sure that someone else was there hundreds or thousands of years before you. There are incredible ancient places hiding all around us. Let’s go find them!

The Isle of Arran has been called ‘Scotland in miniature’, and is famed for it’s landscape being made up of island-sized versions of mainland landscapes. The archaeology on Arran doesn’t disappoint either, there are many typically Scottish archaeological features throughout the island, but particularly on Machrie Moor.

Located on the west coast of the Isle of Arran, Machrie Moor is teaming with more archaeology than you could shake a stick at – it’s one of the largest areas of mostly level ground on the island, making it a space of great importance to the ancient people who lived on the island.

Bizarrely, if you’re looking northeast across the moor towards the skyline, six of the stone circles are located below the natural dip in the landscape on the horizon. The steep sides of Machrie Glen valley meet to create the dip. Coincidentally, at the summer solstice, the sun rises through this notch, and may explain this area was chosen as such a special place by the ancient people who lived on the island.

The moor doesn’t just boast stone circles though; you can also clearly see the remains of circle huts, chambered cairns, cist burials and even old millstones. Quite the menagerie of archaeology! The archaeology dates back to at least 3500BC and there’s evidence that there were timber circles before the stone circles were erected. A truly ancient place!

Only a very small portion of the moor has been excavated, so who knows what else could be hidden under that ancient ground.

Legend even has it that the warrior giant, Fingal dined in the circle known as ‘Fingal’s Cauldron Seat’ and used one of the stones with a hole in it to tether his dog while he ate his meal.

You can find Machrie Moor a few miles north of Blackwaterfoot on the west coast of the island. There’s a small car park and you can find instructions for a wonderful self-guided walk around the moor on

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Harriet Tatton

Written by Harriet Tatton

Harriet is one of DigVentures' community archaeologists. She loves museums, skeletons, and a good cup of Early Grey. Her first dig was at Bennachie, in Aberdeenshire, and since then she's never gone digging without her signature flowery wellies.

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