Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

CatsWhiskersTours provide unique tour experiences tailored to suit you. Call +44 (0) 141 638 5500

Browsing Posts published by catswhiskers

This evening. I am dipping into one of my key interests, namely the prehistory evidence in the British Isles as manifested in the numerous stone circles, burial cairns and rock carvings which survive from that era.

Today, the landscapes of Britain and Ireland are littered with evidence of our prehistoric ancestors dating back to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages ( 4500BC-1000BC). I have a web page dedicated to this era, with emphasis on my base in Scotland where, perhaps on the mainland, the best concentration can be found in Kilmartin Glen on the west near Oban.

In course of  recent visit to Ireland I was fortunate to visit Newgrange, which is probably the premier prehistoric site in the country.

Newgrange lies close to the town of Drogheda, north of Dublin, and forms part of a concentration of prehistory at the western end of the valley of the River Boyne which includes the passage tomb complex of Knowth and three great tombs at Dowth. Newgrange dates back to arond 3000BC. It is a passage tomb surrounded by a kerb of 97 stones. The mound covers a single tomb consisting of a log passage and a cross shaped chamber. Above the entrance is the ‘roof box’ through which the mid-winter sun penetrates into the chamber, an event which attracts a lot of interest, similar to mid summer and mid winter at Stonehenge.

I was particularly interested in the carvings or ‘rock art’ which are similar to their counterparts in Scotland in consisting of concentric circles patiently chipped out of the hard rock. We can only speculate on the purpose of these carvings.

Newgrange was excavated between 1962-1975 and thereafter partly reconstructed with a white quartz facade. This was inspired by the remains of quantities of quartz found on the site. It is quite common to find quartz on the sites of stone circles in Britain suggesting that the mineral had a special significance to the ancient people.

Access to Newgrange is by guided tour only.

Newgrange Rock Art

Rock Art at Newgrange

  continue reading…

This evening, I am focusing on the bright and colourful architecture found at Tobermory, the principal town on the Isle of Mull, located off the west coast of Scotland near Oban. 

In recent times this town has been very popular with family visitors owing its re-naming by the BBC as ‘Balamory’, a fictional town around which was centred a children’s TV series. Although Balamory has finished the town remains a popular destination for visitors, not only as  destination in its own right but a base for touring the Isle of Mull and its famous neighbour, Iona. Mull is famous for its wildlife, particularly raptors whilst Iona attracts Christians of all denominations to its famous Abbey.

As can be seen from the images, Tobermory boast a pleasant harbour, colourful houses, shops, restaurants and even a whisky distillery. There is a good choice of accommodations from B&Bs to hotels. Earlier this year i incorporated Tobermory in a private tour of Mull and Iona

Warning: the roads on Mull are narrow, single track in many places and can be slow going.

Tobermory Harbour, Scotland

Tobermory

continue reading…

Recent news bulletins have been full of the on-going economic crisis in the Republic of Ireland. This has prompted me to review tour images. Putting aside the economic mess, Ireland remains an attractive place to tour. When the rain abates there is wonderful, undulating scenery, Gaelic culture, castles, history, heritage and much more. Unfortunately,the Republic is locked into the Euro so the exchange rate remains fairly firm and not particularly cheap for visitors.

This is a shot from the geological wonder known as the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

Giant's Shoe AT Giant's Causeway

continue reading…