History, Archaeology

People have lived on Bute for over 8,000 years, and at Plan Farm we have evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age history. Plan Farm is now farmed by Brian and Janet Hill alone, but in days gone by the hills and shoreline would have provided habitation and livelihood for numerous families. Evidence is in abundance of divisions and margins marking the grounds upon which each would work, right up to the modern day when Plan Farm incorporated the neighbouring farms of Dunagoil, Garrochty and Kelspoke.

Lying close beside Plan Farm, in a rocky hollow, is the remains of the monastery of St Blane. The monastery was originally founded in the 6th century and was possibly the forerunner to the better known monastery of St Columba on Iona. An enclosure wall surrounds the monastic site of St Blane’s, inside of which stands a 12th century chapel with a romanesque chancel arch. St Blane’s was the parish church of Kingarth for many centuries. This is a place of pure wonder and contemplation, and although visited regularly by other tourists to Bute, we invite our guests to enjoy this very special place, as we do, on a very personal level.

There are many archaeological features throughout the farm – many of them excavated and charted, many others simply offering enticing mysteries and wonders for future generations. During the Iron Age people had power and possessions and went to great lengths to defend themselves from the very real possibility of attack. The most important Iron Age site on Bute (and one of the finest sites of this period in Scotland) is at Dunagoil Bay on Plan Farm. It is perched high on a volcanic cliff with clear views of the seaways around Bute. High stone and timber walls would have surrounded the fort and at some point these walls burned with such intensity that the rubble core became fused into a solid mass (known as vitrification).The vitrified core of the wall at Dunagoil was excavated by Ludovic Mann about 100 years ago and the huge amount of artefacts he discovered showed that the fort had been an important one. One of the areas was found to be used for metal working . In this area were found metal objects, crucibles, moulds and metal slag. The crucibles had been used for melting copper alloys and one may have been used for recycling scrap metal of Roman origin. Two of the moulds found are for the manufacture of spear butts. Artefacts which are now on display in Bute Museum illustrate all facets of domestic life at the fort. The archaeological sites of Kingaven and Branser, Merkland and Kelspoke Castle lie close by.