My Favourites

Ayrshire, Arran & Clyde Valley - Home

History of Arran

Arran's history dates so far back that it becomes tangled up in the myths and legends of Scotland's past. We cannot relate the whole story here, but will pick out some aspects of Arran's history that have left their mark on the island.

The first people on Arran to leave visible signs of their life and times here were the Neolithic people, who lived on the island in the period between 4,500BC and 2,000BC. They were farmers, and traces of their field systems have been found on Arran. However, they have left their most distinct legacy on Arran in the form of stone circles, standing stones and cairns. We do not know what these monuments were used for, but it is safe to assume that they had some kind of ceremonial function. The first of these megalithic monuments was constructed towards the end of the Neolithic period, and more monuments were built over a long period of time - into the Bronze Age (approx. 2,000BC to 600BC).

The grandeur of some of these ancient ceremonial monuments on Arran can best be appreciated by a visit to Machrie moor.
Here, there are six stone circles all within a short distance of each other. They can be found near the end of a farm track that leads from the A 841 road. The site is sign-posted and a small car park is provided for visitors. It is easy to find but a walk of just over 1 mile is needed to reach the site. The track can be muddy and wet in places but it is fairly level and an easy walk. There is a stile about half way along this track next to the Moss Farm Road stone circle, do not confuse this circle with the main Machrie moor circles, these are all clustered together at the end of this same path.

Machrie moor was a big complex and the megaliths should not be seen as individual monuments, but as part of a larger sacred or ceremonial location. First, during the Neolithic period, several timber circles were erected on the moor in the general area where some of the stone circles now lie. The main wooden circle consisted of about fifty tall posts with an inner ring of taller posts in a horseshoe formation. This wood circle was in use for many hundreds of years, during which time other timber circles were also created. No remains of these timber circles can be seen today. What can be seen are the stone monuments that were built to replace them.

History of Arran