Dál Riata, Dunadd, and the first kingdom of the Scots


This Highland excursion will explore the heart of Dál Riata, the early kingdom of the Scots. Situated in the beautiful scenery of the west coast, indented by dramatic sea-lochs, the tour will centre on the Kilmartin Glen area of Argyll. Dunadd is a fortified rock with a carved footprint, ogham inscription, boar carving and libation basin believed to have been used for the inauguration of the kings of Dál Riata. It was also a centre for the production of decorative metalwork of the 7-9th centuries, revealed by extensive excavations. The surrounding valley contains one of the densest concentrations of prehistoric burial monuments in Scotland, with cairns, chambered tombs, standing stone alignments, stone circles, henge and cursus monuments as well as very important rock art sites. Kilmartin itself has an award-winning museum, the neighbouring church and churchyard house several early medieval crosses, and an extensive set of impressive medieval grave monuments of the West Highland tradition. A packed lunch will be provided by the museum's excellent cafe. We will also visit Carnasserie Castle, the 16th-century home of the Bishop of the Isles, John Carswell, who produced the first book written in Gaelic. The excursion will be led by archaeologist Dr Ewan Campbell who has excavated at Dunadd.

On the way home we will stop in Inveraray, Scotland’s first planned town, for a traditional Scottish High Tea at the George Hotel. (See website for a piece of Gaelic-language history connected with its public bar and front lounge).

Arrive back in Glasgow (University Avenue) approx. 20.30.

Cost £45 (includes lunch and evening meal, admission to Kilmartin museum)

Access: sturdy footwear required. There is a climb of about 40 metres up a rough path to the top of Dunadd. The monuments of Kilmartin Glen are set in fields accessed by country paths.

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