Dunadd Hill Fort and The Druid

When writing my previous Forest Lord novels I was working a full time job, and, as a father of small children, it wasn’t really possible to travel south to research the locations I was writing about. But my new Warrior Druid of Britain series, although it still includes many parts of England as settings, sees our characters visiting some places closer to my home in Scotland. A few weeks ago I went to Castlehill Fort (see the pics HERE), and, for my birthday last weekend, I travelled to Dunadd Hill Fort.

The Druid Steven A McKay

Dunadd was the seat of power for the kings of Dalriada, which is modern day Argyll. Much like Dun Breatann (Dumbarton Rock), it rises above the surrounding landscape, offering fantastic views for miles around, and was an obvious place to build a mighty fortress.

I wanted to see Dunadd because its king, Loarn mac Eirc, visits Dun Breatann in the sequel to The Druid, titled Song of the Centurion. In a rather odd synchronicity, it seemed like the owners of the hotel we stayed at had some inkling of this, as the single framed picture outside our rooms showed…Dumbarton Castle!

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So we travelled from our home in the Dumbarton area to Dunadd, mirroring Loarn mac Eirc’s journey, and were greeted with a picture of Dumbarton Castle. Yeah, yeah, nothing but mere coincidence, but I always believe these things are a sign from the gods to show us we are on the right path. (Check out the really weird LUCIA synchronicity I wrote about a while ago HERE – that one was genuinely freaky).

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Cairnbaan Hotel. Great food!

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Dunadd itself is not impressive in the slightest if you’re looking for medieval fortifications, battlements, great stone walls, a portcullis etc – go to Edinburgh or Stirling for that, because here there is practically nothing left of the ancient fortress. BUT, it’s still a wonderful place to visit because, as you can see from my photos, it is a beautiful site with amazing views. It’s easy to imagine yourself on the summit, surrounded by your fellow warriors, safe behind sturdy wooden walls as an enemy army approaches, knowing they’ll never be able to take the place.

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I loved this ledge. I could just see a couple of warriors sitting here with a jug of ale, watching the land below. The pic isn’t very clear, but there’s a fair drop beneath, and a great view facing out. It also looks rather like a fish.

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The king is grumpy today. As usual.
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Only a size 6 eh? You know what they say about men with small feet. Bellicus wears a size 12, has to have them specially made…

At the top of the hill is a flat stone with various markings. The kings would be crowned here, in a ritual that involved placing their foot into a carved depression which is apparently only an adult UK size 6. Those ancient rulers must have been quite small but, placing my own boot into the slot, I felt the power of aeons flowing through me and my inner Celt came to the fore! FREEDOM! (Not really, I was just being a bit of a tit). This has obvious parallels with the Arthurian legend for me, with the stone – symbolizing the land/people – conferring power on the one who fits their foot in the depression/ draws the sword. It’s an interesting thought eh?

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Made me think of an album cover by Winterfylleth which, funnily enough, has been the soundtrack to some of the new book

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My visit was thoroughly enjoyable, partly because my daughter was with me and she’s great company, but Dunadd is just a fantastic, inspiring place. It’s even more appealing to Scottish tourists since it’s free to enter!

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My daughter, wearing my hoodie

Song of the Centurion is now roughly half finished so I’m hoping to have it ready to publish around summer this year. Hopefully you all like it as much as The Druid which, as I write this, has 94 reviews on Amazon UK even though it’s only been out for a little over 3 months! Thank you all for that, and remember, as Bellicus says – “Everyone dies, especially those who never truly lived when they had the chance.”

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