Kilmartin Glen

Kilmartin Glen

In the quaint region of Argyll and Bute sits hundreds of ancient monuments for you to explore, some of which even date back to prehistoric times! Welcome to Kilmartin Glen, an expansive region of with magic in the air. From standing stones and cairns to castles galore, Kilmartin Glen is a fascinating historic attraction that everyone should pay a visit to.

If you’re planning to add Kilmartin Glen to your holiday, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be letting you know about the rich history of the Glen, how to get there, and the top things to do during your stay.

The History of Kilmartin Glen

History of Kilmartin Glen

Kilmartin Glen boasts one of the most concentrated regions of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland, spanning over 5000 years of history. The region was a hotspot for early humans, and today’s picturesque Glen makes it easy to see why. Kilmartin Glen boasts over 350 ancient monuments, all within six miles of the idyllic Kilmartin.

The earliest archaeological monuments are prehistoric stone circles, chambered cairns, and rock carvings dotted around the Glen. Many of these were built before the Pyramids in Egypt – isn’t that crazy to think about?!

There are iconic historical monuments closer to the present, too. The remains of a once mighty fortress and a royal centre can also be found at Kilmartin Glen. With each new attraction, you’ll feel like you’re stepping through time to a new era of Scotland’s incredible history.

How Do I Get to Kilmartin Glen?

Kilmartin Glen is a large area that you can explore at your leisure from Kilmartin village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. This picturesque region of Scotland is only a stone’s throw away from Glasgow and easy to reach with a car on public transit. Avoid last minute travel plans and take a look at our guide for how to get to Kilmartin.

By Car

Kilmartin is a two-hour drive from Glasgow, but it’s a scenic route that takes you past pretty lochs and the long coastline of Argyll and Bute. Here’s the route step-by-step:

  • Drive west from Glasgow’s city centre, taking the A82 northwards past Loch Lomond. This drive is especially scenic, with a great view of the Trossachs National Park.
  • Once you reach Tarbet, turn left and transition onto the A83.
  • Continue along the A83 until you reach Lochgilhead (about 50 miles).
  • From the town, take the second exit on the roundabout onto the A816.
  • Carry for around 8 miles, and you should begin to see signs for Kilmartin. Turn right on Barrmor View, and you’ll arrive. There’s a car park at the Visitor Centre.

By Public Transit

Public Transit options to Kilmartin are limited, with buses generally taking you very early in the morning or overnight. The quickest route via public transport is a four-hour bus route:

  • Take the 926 Campbeltown Bus from Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow for 33 stops until you reach Lochnell Street in Campbeltown.
  • Hop onto the 23 Oban Bus and take it six stops. You’ll arrive at Kilmartin before you know it!

Attractions to Enjoy at Kilmartin Glen

As an open-air museum, this historic site is the perfect attraction for anyone who likes to take things at their own pace. The many natural rocks and trees that dot the Glen are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here are some things to do at the Glen during your visit.

Wander the Amazing Landscape

Wander the Lanscape

From large burial cairns to towering standing stones, there’s a relic of the past wherever you look at Kilmartin Glen. Some of our personal highlights include:

The Linear Cemetery

The closest attraction you will come across is the “linear cemetery”. This is a series of cemetery cairns that are in a straight line from the Bronze Age, except for the Nether Largie North Cairn, which was built in the Iron Age.

From north to south, you can expect to see the Glebe Cairn, the Nether Largie North Cairn, Nether Largie Mid Cairn, Nether Largie South Cairn, and the Ri Cruin Cairn. It’s speculated that great leaders of ancient clans and tribes were buried within these cairns. While many burial cairns are now partially destroyed, the Nether Largie Burial Cairns are exemplary.

Standing Stones

After you’ve toured the burial cairns, your next stop should be the ancient stone circles that dot the landscape of this picturesque Glen. These include the Nether Largie standing stones, the Ballymeanoch standing stones, and the Temple Wood stone Circle.

Each of these prominent Kilmartin stones is made up of mighty menhirs that stand between two and four metres tall, offering great chances to grab a picture. While it’s unlikely that these stones align with any astronomical items, they’re still well worth visiting.

Cup and Ring Marks and Carvings

Throughout Kilmartin Glen, you’ll see a variety of enigmatic rock art present on stones and outcroppings. These distinctive cup-and-ring marks are some of the most concentrated in Scotland, which points to the site being a haven for artists. Carvings of animals and other elements of Neolithic life can also be found throughout the site.

Visit the Kilmartin Museum of Ancient Culture

Kilmartin Museum of Ancient Culture

If you want further insight into the fascinating Kilmartin standing stones or burial cairns, look no further than the Kilmartin Museum of Ancient Culture. The Kilmartin House Museum, also known as the Kilmartin Museum of Ancient Culture, presents 12,000 years of human history with artefacts, paintings, and exhibits.

Explore history with an informed, guided tour, and you won’t regret it!

Stop by the Kilmartin Parish Church

Kilmartin Parish Church

The Kilmartin Church and Church Graveyard are a fascinating look at the relationship between life and death in the 1600s. The Church has several human-sized grey slabs that demark the graves. You can see chieftains, kings, and clergymen with impressive likenesses sculpted into the very stone tablets.

The largest of these stones is likely ‘McTavish’, which stands about two and a half metres tall.

Imagine the Battles at Fortress Ruins

Battle of Fortress Ruins

Rising from Moine Mhor – the great moss – are the remains of an Iron Age fort which served as a royal power to the Gaelic Kings between 500 – 800 ACE. It’s easy to imagine the battles that took place at Dunadd Fort that led to its downfall, which makes it a fascinating historic monument amongst the other sites at Kilmartin Glen.

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