Standing stones 4 – Kilmartin
I leave the isle of Harris via the ferry port at Tarbet and sail over to Uig, a small town on the Isle of Skye. The sea is calm and I watch a manx shearwater skim across the surface of the North Minch. These birds are nesting just now but in July they will start their migration to the shores of South America, almost 5500 miles away. I stay with a friend in Uig and then drive down to the Crinan Canal, a man-made stretch of water that cuts out the need to go all the way round the Kintyre peninsula.
The next day I visit Kilmartin Primary School, where the four children in the primary seven class tell me about the ring of stones a mere 500 yards away from their school. They show me some of the artefacts found around the stones. Axe heads and arrow heads from almost 5000 years ago. Here are some of the children telling me about these amazing finds in their own words…
We also looked at some of the poems from the isle of Lewis. The children there produced a bilingual book of poems inspired by the Callanish stones. The poems are set out in English and in Gaelic. Here is one of the children at Kilmartin reading a poem. This inspired the children at Kilmartin to work on their own poems, which they will send on to me later.
The children at Kilmartin had already prepared some stories based around the standing stones theme. Here is one called the 13 men and the thief. read by Nina, let’s listen to one of their own stories, this time inspired by their own stone circle at Temple Wood.
Remember, there is a competition to find the best one-page story using a ring of stones as a starting point. Strident Publishing will supply a pack of children’s books to the winning school. This story was written by…
The children quiz me about my own story – Talisman, which begins at an imaginary stone circle called ‘The Jesus Rocks’. In my series of fantasy adventure books –The Peck Chronicles, a mystery vandal repeatedly daubs the the main stone with the words ‘Jesus Saves’,
hence the name given to the stones by the locals in the book. This actually happened to a large stone on Carman Moor above my house in Alexandria, and I thought it would be interesting to incorporate this into my adventures. Writing about things you have actually seen is sometimes easier.
After this truly amazing visit to Kilmartin Primary I see a hare racing across the field before I reach the Temple Woods circles.
At the stones themselves, I am surprised to see that the centre of this circle is filled with much smaller stones.
There are two stone circles at Temple Wood. From the northern one you could watch the midwinter sunset and from the southern you could observe the winter full moon.
Features and Creatures
Today’s feature is Flint a hard form of quartz found as nodules in much lighter limestone or chalk. It splits into very thin, sharp shards which can be used for all manner of cutting tools. When struck against steel it can produce a spark and even start a fire.
Today’s creature is the hare
Hares are related to rabbits but live more solitary lives. They typically have longer ears and can run very fast, almost 50 miles per hour. They don’t have burrows but live in a nest above ground called a form. A young hare, less than a year old, is called a leveret.
Here are today’s challenge questions
1 I visited the Crinan canal. Name another canal in Scotland?
2 The children at Kilmartin showed us some axe and arrow-heads. What were they made of?
3 There are two types of hare in Scotland; can you name them?
4 What is a young hare called?