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loch melfort hotel kilmartin standing stones adventure

Located on the west coast of Scotland, Argyll is known for its natural, historical, and archaeological treasures. The most famous of which is arguably the network of standing stones and stone circles standing proud across the region.

There are many of these mysterious sites in Argyll waiting to be explored. Let’s delve into the history, local legends and let you know how to get to these magical megaliths for yourself…

What is the history of the standing stones in Argyll?

The standing stones were erected thousands of years ago, but no one really knows why, or how they got there.

It is believed that these ancient sites could have been used for religious ceremonies, or possibly to observe the moon and sun patterns throughout the year. Although the exact purpose remains unknown, they do provide a fascinating insight into the past and it is easy to see why they are one of the top tourists attractions in Scotland.

Myths and legends behind the mysterious standing stones in Scotland

Scotland is synonymous with mystery and legend, and these monuments have captured the imagination of visitors for years.

It has been rumoured that these ancient monuments could be portals to the underworld, men turned to stone as punishment, or even giants frozen in time forever. Maybe you will come up with your own tale when you visit these magical sites for yourself.

Where to find the standing stones in Argyll

The standing stones in Argyll can be found in some of Scotland’s most beautiful locations…

Kilmartin Glen

Kilmartin Glen, encircling the small village of Kilmartin on the west coast, boasts over 350 ancient monuments and is known as one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the UK.

Two stone circles can be found here at Temple Wood. The southern circle grandly showcases 13 stones (although it is thought that there were originally 22) and is 12 meters in diameter with a cist at the centre. The northern circle whilst smaller is still a must-see and is believed to have been originally built using timber posts.

The impressive five Nether Largie stones stand tall at over two meters in height. Aligned to form a letter X, or cross, interesting cup and ring carvings can be found on the central stone. The site is located along the line of the famous linear cemetery of burial cairns that run down the floor of the glen.

Ballymeanoch is believed to have been originally part of a bigger site but now has two rows, each with two and four stones. The tallest of which is a remarkable four meters high.

If you’re visiting Kilmartin Glen, be sure to stop at the recently refurbished Kilmartin Museum which provides more information on these sites!

Kintyre

Three vertical stones can be found standing to attention, side-by-side, at Ballochroy on the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula. Varying in height, the tallest stands at over 3 meters. They appear to be aligned with the local landscape and researchers have suggested that the position of these stones point to them being used for tracking daylight.

Isle of Mull

From Oban, you can set sail to the delightful isle of Mull where the Lochbuie Stone Circle stands proudly in the grounds of Lochbuie House at the foot of Ben Buie. Interestingly, the stones have been placed with the flattest side facing into the centre of the circle, which is about 12 meters in diameter.

Isle of Coll

The small but mighty Isle of Coll, known for its stunning sandy beaches, boasts many archaeological sites. Arguably the most famous of which is two standing stones known as Na Sgialaichean in Gaelic, or the “Teller of Tales”. It is thought that they were used for astronomy.

The journey here is as picturesque as the island itself. The ferry from Oban will treat you to unmatched scenery, and if you’re lucky, a glimpse of a dolphin as you sail along the Sound of Mull.

Isle of Bute

Just a short ferry ride from Wemyss Bay on the mainland, you can discover the peaceful Isle of Bute, home to a diverse range of standing stones dotted across the island.

Just three stones are remaining at Kingarth Stone Circle, but this beautiful spot is worth a visit to see the unique markings on the southernmost stone. Eight stones stand boldly at Ettrick Bay, the tallest of which stands at 2.4 meters high and you can also find more stones scattered near Stravanan Bay.

Loch Melfort Hotel stands proudly in the most amazing setting by the coast of Argyll, with views to the Sound of Jura and the Inner Hebrides beyond. Our unique 4-star country house hotel, just 10 miles from Kilmartin, is the perfect base for exploring all the treasures that Argyll has to offer. Check out our seasonal offers ahead of your next stay.