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Stiddrig Cairn, long cairn and cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.2738 / 55°16'25"N

Longitude: -3.5107 / 3°30'38"W

OS Eastings: 304119

OS Northings: 598780

OS Grid: NY041987

Mapcode National: GBR 37XG.Q9

Mapcode Global: WH5VM.1PHW

Entry Name: Stiddrig Cairn, long cairn and cairn

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1950

Last Amended: 16 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM640

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: long cairn

Location: Kirkpatrick-Juxta

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of two burial monuments, a long cairn of Neolithic date and a cairn of early Bronze-Age date. These are both visible as upstanding remains, the long cairn a partially grass-covered stone-and-earth mound and the cairn a grass-covered mound. The monument is located at 260m above sea-level within a forestry clearing. The monument was first scheduled in 1950 but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this and improves the associated documentation.

The long cairn is pear-shaped on plan and measures 32m long, up to 2m in height, and is aligned NNW-SSE. It is widest at the SSE end where it measures 19m across a shallow stone facade, gradually decreasing in width to 10.7m at the NNW end. A later stone wall crosses the fa├žade and there is evidence of stone robbing along its crest and flanks. The cairn, situated around 40m to the WNW of the long cairn, is roughly circular on plan, measures 7m NE-SW by 6.5m transversely and stands up to 0.5m high.

The two discrete areas to be scheduled are circular and polygonal on plan, to include the visible remains and an area around them within which evidence relating to their construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area extends up to but specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the post-and-wire fence on the W side of the circular cairn, to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Both the long cairn and cairn survive with a substantial proportion of their structure intact, though there is evidence of some stone robbing from the long cairn. There is no other evidence of disturbance, or record of excavation at either. They lie within a forestry clearing and have apparently avoided both the forestry and the earlier land improvements apparent in the area. The cairn is likely to contain one or more burials with associated grave goods. The long cairn is likely to contain a larger number of burials but the form of any burial structures within it is so far unknown. Both cairns will overlie their contemporary land surface, which comparative experience has shown will contain environmental evidence. .

The monument has an inherent potential to inform our understanding of the architecture and construction of such burial monuments, the associated burial practices, aspects of human pathology and kinship from surviving skeletal remains, and the environment in which both cairns were constructed and used. The monument also has the capacity to further our understanding of how each may have been used, whether in one or multiple episodes, and within one or perhaps over many generations. The different periods of construction and use of these two burial monuments within close proximity demonstrate a potential to increase our knowledge of developments in burial practice over time. Any artefacts accompanying the burials, or incidentally incorporated within or beneath the monuments, have the capacity to further our knowledge of the society that constructed and used the monuments, how they lived, what they ate, and how they demonstrated their identities and their ritual beliefs. The buried land surfaces beneath both monuments have the capacity to retain important environmental information, which has the potential to further our understanding of the landscapes in which burial monuments were constructed. There is also an inherent potential to understand the development of the environment in the time between the two episodes of burial monument construction.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is located on a gentle slope with a N-facing aspect, around 195m south of the Eyre Burn in Upper Annandale. Modern forestry presently obscures some of the views from the monument but there appear to be long-range views to the east, west and north, where the view is into the valley of the Kinnel Water. The two cairns form part of a local group of similar monuments across the area, the focus of which appears to be the earlier long cairn, reflecting the areas extensive exploitation by prehistoric communities and an enduring tradition of burial within a confined area. There are at least 11 circular burial cairns in this cluster, a rare recorded instance of such a cluster. There is also a hut circle 100m to the south-west and a number of hut circles recorded to the north east and east. It is unlikely that the history of cultivation and clearance stretches unbroken over two millennia from the earlier Neolithic into the Early Bronze Age, but the presence of the long cairn and the cluster of round cairns suggest that the Kinnel Water has been a focus of activity in both periods. The exact nature of the relationship between the funerary and settlement evidence in this area is unknown and the monument has an inherent potential to contribute to our knowledge of areas where such evidence is found in association.

The long cairn is a rare example of a Neolithic burial monument in eastern Dumfries and Galloway, where they are very infrequent (the only other recorded example is that at Windy Edge, over 30 km to the south-east). Neolithic burial monuments are uncommon across south-eastern Scotland and northern England, only becoming more concentrated in distribution to the west in Galloway. Both the known examples in the study area are situated in upland locations.

The cairn reflects a widespread tradition of Bronze-Age burial across Scotland in which places of burial are marked with earthen and stone mounds. In Scotland over a 1000 round cairns have been recorded, and at least 70 are known in eastern Dumfries and Galloway. This is a comparatively small example of its class. Excavation of comparative examples have shown that they vary widely with some containing a central burial while others have multiple burials, some inserted at much later intervals. The burial may be cremations within pottery vessels or inhumation within a short stone cist. Cairns are often found in discrete groups and favoured locations include river terraces and situations from they can be prominently seen, such as hill tops, false crests and ridges, usually at around or above 200m above sea level. Intervisibility with other groups of cairns may also be a factor in their location within the landscape.

Associative characteristics

The cairn and long cairn appear on the First Edition Ordnance Survey as 'Tumulus' and 'Stiddrig Cairn'. The RCAHMS recorded in 1920 that 'beacons have been erected on the summit' of the long cairn; it is not certain what is meant by this observation.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular Neolithic and Bronze-Age burial architecture and burial practice, and their evolution through time. It has a specific ability to further our understanding of how an area may become an enduring location favoured for ritual use and how later society understood and valued the past. It also has the capacity to inform our knowledge of how funerary monuments were located within the landscape and how they may relate to topographical features and/or celestial events. Environmental evidence within the monument has the capacity to further our understanding of contemporary land use and landscapes. Artefacts and other deposits associated with the monument have the potential to inform our knowledge of contemporary society. The loss of the monument would impede our ability to understand the nature of continued prehistoric funerary activity in this region, its relationship with such activity elsewhere, the society that undertook such activity and the landscape within which all this happened.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record this site as Stiddrig, cairn: long, and cairn, references NY09NW 2 and NY09NW 4. Dumfries and Galloway SMR record the monument as MDG6758 and MDG6761.

References

RCAHMS 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh: The Stationery Office, 19, 59, 102,144, 294, nos. 415, 432.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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