Ancient Monuments

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Lochanhead, cairn 530m WNW of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.2894 / 55°17'21"N

Longitude: -3.5502 / 3°33'0"W

OS Eastings: 301649

OS Northings: 600572

OS Grid: NT016005

Mapcode National: GBR 37N8.5P

Mapcode Global: WH5VL.F9NX

Entry Name: Lochanhead, cairn 530m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 25 November 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12622

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)

Location: Kirkpatrick-Juxta

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire


The monument comprises a funerary monument of probable Bronze-Age date. It survives as a substantial, sub-circular stony mound. The monument is located on a slight knoll within low, boggy ground midway between the Hoarlaw and Lochan Burns in the valley of the Kinnel Water, and at between 300m and 310m above sea level.

The monument is polygonal on plan and measures 9.1m NE-SW by 8.4m transversely. It is composed of tumbled boulders over which turf and vegetation is encroaching at the edges. The majority of the boulders are angular in form and large (between 0.30- 0.50 m in length/width). There is no obvious evidence of features visible within the mound, such as a kerb or walling, though the encroaching vegetation may mask such features. The mound is uneven in profile and has a maximum height of 0.7m in its eastern portion.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

This monument survives with a substantial proportion of its body intact and, despite a strong antiquarian tradition of interest in the prehistory of SW Scotland often focussed on burial monuments, this cairn was noted by the Ordnance Survey as early as 1920 as likely to be undisturbed. The unevenness of the profile suggests that some minor disturbance has occurred since its construction, possibly stone robbing, but the lack of an obvious depression would confirm that any features beneath the stones are intact.

It is likely to contain one or more burials (some of which may have been inserted some time after the primary burial) and which may include skeletal material, artefacts and other archaeologically significant deposits and features relating to the act of burial. The cairn will also overlie and seal a prehistoric land surface that may contain environmental evidence. It therefore has the potential to tell us more about the architecture of large prehistoric burial monuments, the practice of burial and how the dead were commemorated, as well as aspects of the local environment when the cairn was constructed. Where more than one burial is present, the evidence can help us understand how such monuments developed through time.

Contextual characteristics

The cairn is located on the southern end of a slight knoll set in relatively level, boggy, unimproved moorland. The knoll is situated within a tight bend of a small tributary of the Hoarlaw Burn and is between 15m and 20m away from the water. The moorland is encircled by high ground to the north and west, with Queensberry Hill around 3 km to the WSW, Penbreck 3.5 km to the W, and Mid Height at 3.2 km to WNW. The Hoarlaw Burn is itself a tributary of Kinnel Water, located around 3 km to the east. Though the monument is not in an obviously prominent position, there are good views from the cairn across the moorland to this high ground and, based on how recognisable the cairn appears on aerial photographs, it is likely that the cairn is itself highly visible when viewed from the surrounding peaks.

The monument reflects a widespread tradition of prehistoric burial across Scotland in which places of burial are marked with earthen and stone mounds. There are 70 burial cairns recorded within eastern Dumfriesshire and this is one of 11 broadly similar examples located within the watershed of Kinnel Water, all in relative isolation from other burial cairns. One of these cairns is only around 1540m to the ENE and, despite being presently situated within forestry, may well have once been intervisible with the monument in question.

One of only two Neolithic long cairns in eastern Dumfriesshire is also located within this watershed, at Stidriggs 3.2 km to the SE, and may have held some significance for the society responsible for this cluster of later Bronze-Age cairns. The significance of an apparent continuity of focus of funerary activity within this watershed is as yet little understood. A number of other contemporary monuments have also been recorded within the vicinity, reflecting the area's extensive exploitation by prehistoric communities. Of particular note are two burnt mounds and a number of small clearance cairns in the immediate area and a hut circle around 1270m to the ESE.

Analysis of this monument and its place within the contemporary environment has the capacity to inform our knowledge of a number of different issues. These include specifically the significance of the topography, hydrology and other contemporary, or earlier, monuments in the setting of the monument. The monument can therefore help us to understand more about the nature of burial and its place within prehistoric society, as well as the significance of these monuments and their deliberate positioning among living communities.

Associative characteristics

The cairn is shown on the Second Edition Ordnance Survey, where it is marked as 'tumulus'.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular funerary monuments of the Bronze Age. Specifically the monument has the capacity to further our understanding of cairn architecture, as well as the placing of large monuments commemorating the dead in relation to contemporary Bronze-Age society and its continued use or reuse of landscapes of apparent ritual significance to Neolithic peoples. The loss of the monument would impede our ability to understand the nature of prehistoric activity in eastern Dumfriesshire, and across Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as Lochan Burn, cairn, NT00SW 2. Dumfries and Galloway SMR records the monument as MDG351.

Aerial photograph:

RCAHMS (2002) NT00SW 2 Lochan Burn E13410.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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