Thursday, 29 July 2010

Situated a short way inland and on the highest point of an otherwise sleepy hollow in North Mull lies An Sean Dun, one of the best preserved fortifications of its kind on the island and the focus of several of our recent walks. Dating back over 2,000 years, the fort would have been an integral part of a local community that lived in the area and practised farming and stock rearing.

Occupying a ridge overlooking the entrance to the Sound of Mull, with the Cuillins of Rum in the distance, this almost circular enclosure is easily overlooked, but provided us with wonderful views and immense satisfaction, once we had scrambled up its gentle, bracken-infested slopes. On account of its position, this is a structure that is best viewed from the air and, consequently, our photographs, including this one showing the eastern entrance to the dun, don’t do it justice.

Some superb aerial photographs of this site can be accessed by clicking on the following link

The nearby ruined settlement at Baliacrach was more recently occupied and remains to tell a very different story in relation to the area’s rich and, sometimes, chequered past. The entrance to one of the houses has some very attractive ‘graffiti’ etched on to one of the stones that make up the door frame. The outline of a sailing ship can be clearly seen on the yellow and grey lichen-stained rock and represents a fascinating and intricate piece of artistry from a forgotten time.

It's over 150 years since the first Mole appeared on Isle of Mull soil, being inadvertently introduced in soil ballast transported from nearby Lochaline on the Scottish mainland. Nowadays, evidence of their presence can be found throughout the island and, where mole hills are located near sites of historical importance, Mull Magic has got into the way of kicking over the disturbed top soil, in the hope of unearthing a rare antiquity.

Living in underground chambers, moles are very rarely seen above ground. They are industrious diggers or ‘dirt tossers’, as their name implies, being capable of excavating up to 20 metres in a day. They are little mammalian gymnasts that think nothing of travelling backwards or performing forward roles in their tunnels. The drought conditions earlier this year meant that local moles would have had to dig deep for their favourite meal of earthworms, which they paralyze with toxins excreted in their saliva. However, the recent wet weather has probably resulted in some very rich pickings for the island’s mole population!

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