Myths, Legends and archaeology too!
Life on Arran has been well documented, with records of settlements on Arran dating back as far as 10,000 years ago. As you drive round the island, keep your eyes peeled for ancient monuments, stone circles, standing stones hut circles, cists and other buildings. Changes in the way of life on Arran through the ages from the Mesolithic towards the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age can be seen in various sites round the island.
With Arran's history dating as far back as the Stone Age, perhaps as far as 7000BC, history has become tangled up in myth and legends. With some of the island's ancient stones reaching over five meters high - how they got there is a mystery today. Some legends tell the story of how the existence of the stone circles are due to a group of fairies. It is thought the fairies sat on top of the nearby Durra-na-each hill, flicking pebbles onto the moor below to pass the time. These ‘pebbles’ became what is now Machrie Moor standing stones and circles. The stone circles here are thought to have been made around 4000 years ago, around the time of the Bronze Age.
At Brodick Castle Gardens and Country Park, you can have a look around a replica Bronze Age round house. Here at Auchrannie, we have our own Bronze Age residences. In 2001, during the construction of the Spa Resort building, two well preserved Iron Age roundhouses and souterrain were revealed. In order for the building to be constructed, the roundhouses were carefully excavated, giving the archaeologists the opportunity to explore. Artefacts such as two cannel bracelets and a bronze spiral ring were then found with some items thought to have been built on site. The site and its findings were believed to have been from a prestigious settlement around the early 1st or late 2nd BC. The souterrain was then excavated in October 2013 in order for further extension to the resort building. The Archaeologists cleared the site, but you can still see the stone lined walls situated in front of the resort, showing the passageways that are may have been used for storage of crafts and foods or even as a hiding place in troubled times.
In 1306, it is believed that Robert the Bruce landed at Lochranza on his return from Ireland to claim the Scottish throne. The legend goes that Robert sought refuge from the English inside a cave on the island. This is when he was thought to have watched a spider unsuccessfully try to spin its web on the cave wall, giving Robert the strength to continue the fight for Scottish Independence. It is thought that the spider’s perseverance gave him this strength to continue on. It is understood that the cave he sought solace in was the King’s Cave, just round the coast in Blackwaterfoot. It is a lovely walk to the King's Cave, which can also take in the Machrie Moor standing stones, making it a great day out.