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Crois Mhic Aoidh, standing stone

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.5569 / 55°33'24"N

Longitude: -5.5949 / 5°35'41"W

OS Eastings: 173381

OS Northings: 635115

OS Grid: NR733351

Mapcode National: GBR DGK0.XQJ

Mapcode Global: WH0LL.1L1C

Entry Name: Crois Mhic Aoidh, standing stone

Scheduled Date: 1 October 1936

Last Amended: 19 July 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM251

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone

Location: Killean and Kilchenzie

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument is a single standing stone situated in a forestry clearing on the southern slopes of Doire na h-Earbaige. It dates probably to the Neolithic or Bronze Age period, sometime between 4000 BC and 1500 BC. The monument was first scheduled in 1936, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

This stone stands at an angle, but measures 1.6m high (and would be as much as 1.8m if erect). It is 1.4m wide by 0.3m deep and its top is pointed. Traditionally known as Mackay's Cross (Crois Mhic Aoidh), the stone bears what appear to be two large 'M' characters carved in bold relief on its broad faces. The stone is aligned ENE to WSW.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the monument described above and an area around it within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Given the lack of any apparent disturbance to the stone or its immediate surroundings, Crois Mhic Aoidh represents a well-preserved example of its type and offers excellent potential for the survival of evidence relating to the erection of the stone and traces of the activities and rituals that may have been focussed here.

The role of standing stones in prehistoric society and belief is presently not well understood and sites such as this offer excellent potential to enhance our understanding of the function and meaning of these monuments. In the case of Crois Mhic Aoidh, which survives within a well-preserved prehistoric landscape, there is also the potential to ascertain how this standing stone relates to domestic settlements and funerary sites, as well as other standing stones and stone circles in the vicinity.

Contextual characteristics

Crois Mhic Aoidh stands about 0.6km to the SW of a stone circle on Beinn an Tuirc and there may have been a temporal and/or functional relationship between the two sites. This might simply have depended on their inter-visibility within the landscape or, alternatively, Crois Mhic Aoidh may have played some role in the function of the Beinn an Tuirc stone circle.

Various theories have been put forward to explain the purpose of standing stones, which are distributed widely across Britain. These include that they were markers for astrological phenomena, or defined territorial boundaries, or commemorated significant events or individuals. The landscape surrounding Crois Mhic Aoidh contains a wide range of remains of prehistoric domestic settlement in the form of hut circles and field systems, as well as funerary and ritual monuments such as cairns, stone circles, standing stones and many cup-marked and cup-and-ring marked rock outcrops. Although not all contemporary, this dense distribution of prehistoric monuments highlights the considerable time-depth of the surrounding landscape and indicates that this area appears to have been of importance for many generations of people.

Associative characteristics

Local tradition recounts that when a disguised King Robert the Bruce was a fugitive in Kintyre, he was hospitably entertained by a farm tenant named Mackay, who proceeded to escort him to the ferry for Arran. On the way, they rested on a hill, where this standing stone now marks the spot, and the farmer pointed out the lands of Arnicle and Ugadale, noting them to be Crown lands. When the pair reached the ferry, the King revealed his true identity and thanked the man for his hospitality, giving him his brooch. Bruce added that should he come into his rights, he would give the farmer the lands of Arnicle and Ugadale. Bruce subsequently granted the lands to the man and his heirs and these estates remained the property of Mackay's descendents, the MacNeals of Losset, up to 1927. The Macneals still have in their possession the 'Bruce Brooch'. This is why the standing stone is known by the name 'Crois Mhic Aoidh', the Cross of Mackay.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

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 the ritual life of Neolithic and Bronze Age communities. Apparently undisturbed, the stone and its immediate surroundings offer excellent potential for the preservation of archaeological deposits relating to its erection and use, including any activities that may have been focussed on the site. There is also potential for the survival of evidence of the relationships between this monument and nearby standing stones and stone circles. The loss of the monument would diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the beliefs and rituals of Neolithic and Bronze Age communities.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

References

Thom and Thom, A and A S , 1979, 'The standing stones in Argyllshire', Glasgow Archaeol J, Vol 6, 1979, 5-10

Thom, A , 1970, Megalithic lunar observatories, Oxford

Ruggles, C L N , 1981 'A critical examination of the megalithic lunar observatories', in Ruggles, C L N and Whittle, A W R (eds.), 'Astronomy and society in Britain during the period 4000-1500 BC', Brit Archaeol Report, Vol 88, 153-209, Oxford

RCAHMS, 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments, Vol 1: Kintyre, Edinburgh

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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