Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Moyne, cairn 930m east of

A Scheduled Monument in Newton Mearns North and Neilston, East Renfrewshire

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Latitude: 55.7486 / 55°44'55"N

Longitude: -4.4235 / 4°25'24"W

OS Eastings: 247982

OS Northings: 653242

OS Grid: NS479532

Mapcode National: GBR 3K.BX32

Mapcode Global: WH3PL.0RVX

Entry Name: Moyne, cairn 930m E of

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12856

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Neilston

County: East Renfrewshire

Electoral Ward: Newton Mearns North and Neilston

Traditional County: Renfrewshire


The monument comprises the remains of a cairn, built probably in the late Neolithic or Bronze Age, between 3000 and 1000 BC. It is visible as an irregular turf-covered mound and is situated on top of Lochend Hill at 260m above sea level. This location means that there are views in all directions, the view to the north being particularly extensive.

The upstanding remains of the cairn measure around 11.5m in diameter and stand to 0.9m in height. In the centre and west of the cairn is an irregular hollow that may be the result of antiquarian excavation. In the SW quadrant is a small modern stone cairn.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment 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

Excavation suggests that many round cairns were used to cover and mark human burials and are late Neolithic or Bronze Age in origin, dating most commonly from the late third millennium BC to the early second millennium BC. Although there has been some disturbance to the centre of this cairn, much of the monument appears intact suggesting that archaeological information is likely to survive beneath its surface. One or more burials may survive, particularly as archaeologists often find burials away from the centres of cairns. The excavation of similar mounds elsewhere in SW Scotland has shown that cairns often incorporate or overlie graves or pits containing cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, and artefacts such as pottery and flint work. Comparable remains may exist beneath this cairn. These deposits can help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemorating the dead at specific points in prehistory. They may also help us to understand the changing structure of society in the area. In addition, the cairn is likely to overlie and seal a buried land surface that could provide evidence of the immediate environment before the monument was constructed. Botanical remains, including pollen or charred plant material, may also survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us to build up a picture of the climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

This monument belongs to a diverse group of up to 86 known or possible cairns in the former county of Renfrewshire, including some that have been destroyed by modern land use since they were recorded. The cairns cluster at between 200m and 300m above sea level, on the NE fringe of the uplands that define the southern edge of the Clyde Valley. The intensive use of the lowlands for agriculture, housing and industry, as well as the activities of archaeological researchers, have influenced the distribution pattern we see today and it seems certain that cairns would originally have been a feature of the lowlands as well as the uplands. Cairns seem to be positioned for visibility both to and from the site. They tend to be located on hill tops, false crests and ridges and are generally inter-visible. In this area, their position and significance in relation to contemporary agricultural land and settlement merits future detailed analysis.

This monument can be compared with 23 other cairns that lie on the uplands south-west of Newton Mearns, within an area measuring around 10km east-west by 7km transversely. Four of these cairns lie within a radius of 2km and finds of flint, beaker pottery and a stone axehead have been made within 1km. The monument can also be compared with excavated examples further afield, such as the cairn at East Green Farm, Kilmacolm, where at least two Bronze Age funerary urns were found, and that at South Mound of Houston, where the cairn covered a cist grave containing cremated human bone, a flint knife and a Bronze Age food vessel. Cairns were often long-lived foci of religious or funerary activity and have the potential to contain secondary burials. This longevity is demonstrated at South Mound of Houston, where the cairn re-used the location of a group of Neolithic pits and lay close to a probable cist cemetery. Given the many comparable sites in the area, this monument has the potential to further our understanding not just of funerary site location and practice, but also of the structure of early prehistoric society and economy.

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, particularly the design and construction of burial monuments, the nature of burial practices, and their significance in prehistoric and later society. Skeletal remains and artefacts from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is particularly valuable because it lies in a landscape where there are several other cairns nearby. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape and the meaning and importance of death and burial in prehistoric life.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as NS45SE 2. The WoSAS SMR records the site as WoSASPIN 7582.


Alexander, D (ed) 1996, Prehistoric Renfrewshire; Papers in Honour of Frank Newall, Renfrewshire Local History Forum.

Newall, F 1962, 'Early open settlement in Renfrewshire', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 95 (1961-2), 159-70.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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