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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Daly

Kilmartin Glen, a great day trip from Ruskin Lodges

One of Europe's most important prehistoric landscapes is just a 90 minute drive from Ruskin Lodges. Kilmartin Glen is a beautiful valley located in the Argyll region of Scotland, known for its rich history and archaeological significance. The glen is home to over 350 ancient monuments, including standing stones, burial cairns, and rock art, making it one of the most important prehistoric landscapes in Europe.

Kilmartin Glen, Argyll
This image was originally posted to Flickr by Christian Hacker at Licensed under cc-by-2.0.

The history of Kilmartin Glen dates back to the Neolithic period, around 4000 BC, when the first settlers arrived in the area. These early inhabitants built a variety of different monuments, including standing stones and burial cairns, which can still be seen in the glen today. The standing stones, also known as menhirs, were erected for ceremonial or religious purposes, and some of them are over 5,000 years old. The burial cairns, on the other hand, were used as tombs for the dead and were often built with large stones and covered with earth.

During the Bronze Age, around 2000 BC, the inhabitants of the glen began to build more complex monuments, such as stone circles. The most famous of these is the Temple Wood stone circle, which is made up of eight standing stones arranged in a circle. This monument was probably used for ceremonial or ritual purposes, and it is thought to have been in use for over 1,000 years.

The Iron Age saw the arrival of the Celts in the area, and they too left their mark on the landscape. The Celts built a variety of different monuments, including hill forts and crannogs, which are artificial islands built in the middle of lochs. The most impressive of these is the Dunadd Fort, which was probably the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada. The fort is located on a hilltop and is surrounded by defensive walls and ditches, and it features a rock-cut footprint, which is thought to have been used for royal inaugurations.

The history of Kilmartin Glen is not limited to prehistory; there are also a number of historical sites from later periods. The Kilmartin Church, for example, dates back to the medieval period and it is said to have been built on the site of an earlier religious structure. The church is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows and its graveyard, which contains many ancient gravestones.

Kilmartin church gravestones
Kilmartin’s church and graveyard are home to over 23 fine sculptured stones, dating from the 900s to the 1600s.

The area of Kilmartin Glen is also home to several castles, including the ruins of the 15th century Castle Dounie and the 16th century Carnasserie Castle. These castles were built by powerful local clans, and they played an important role in the area's history during the medieval and early modern periods.

Today, the Kilmartin Glen is a popular destination for history and archaeology enthusiasts, as well as for those who simply enjoy the natural beauty of the area. There are several visitor centers and museums in the area, which provide information about the history and archaeology of the glen, as well as guided tours of the ancient monuments. Additionally, there are also a number of hiking trails that take visitors through the glen and past some of the most important sites.

Kilmartin Glen is an important and fascinating place that offers a unique glimpse into Scotland's rich past. The area is home to over 350 ancient monuments, which span several millennia and cover a wide range of different cultures and periods. It is a place that is definitely worth visiting for anyone interested in history, archaeology, or simply the natural beauty of the Scottish countryside.

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