On the west coast between Oban and Lochgilphead, Kilmartin Glen is where you can follow in the footsteps of ancient kings, while enjoying some of the finest scenery in Scotland. This wooded and rocky glen has been home to Neolithic and Bronze Age communities, witnessed medieval Christian burials and hosted the coronations of the first Kings of Scotland.
Before the pyramids in Ancient Egypt were built, the inhabitants of Kilmartin Glen had begun to build the burial cairns of the Linear Cemetery at Nether Largie South. These Neolithic stones are among the hundreds of ancient monuments, some 150 of which date from pre-history, that can be found within just six miles of the village of Kilmartin. Today, visitors can enjoy a land that is packed full of historic interest and contemporary activities with some fine walks and cycle paths to explore.
A land of ritual and royalty
The rituals of our ancestors have shaped the landscape of Kilmartin Glen. The ancient site of Temple Wood contains two stone circles and is believed to have been constructed around 3,000 BC. More standing stones some reaching as high as 12 feet can be found in Ballymeanoch, a Neolithic site thought to date back more than 4,000 years. At nearby Dunadd, you will find the remains of the Fortress of the Scots, an Iron Age hill fort. As the capital of the Gaelic Kingdom of Dál Riata (or Dalriada), Dunadd is said to be the place where the Stone of Destiny was used in the crowning of the earliest Kings of Scotland.
To this day, a stone lies at the summit containing a carved footprint into which the King would step during his coronation. As you’ll discover, visitors face an irresistible urge to follow in royal footsteps before heading back down to read all about the area’s history in Kilmartin Museum. Just south of Kilmartin and Dunadd, you can also explore the Crinan Canal, part of Scotland’s more recent industrial heritage, but also one the world’s most beautiful shortcuts.