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Cnoc Aingil, cairn 195m NNE of Bachuil

A Scheduled Monument in Oban North and Lorn, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.539 / 56°32'20"N

Longitude: -5.4759 / 5°28'33"W

OS Eastings: 186385

OS Northings: 743970

OS Grid: NM863439

Mapcode National: GBR DCVF.JJF

Mapcode Global: WH0FS.VWLZ

Entry Name: Cnoc Aingil, cairn 195m NNE of Bachuil

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1957

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM192

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Lismore and Appin

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument is a prehistoric burial cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built probably between 4000 and 1000 BC. It survives as a substantial, circular turf-covered mound of stones, approximately 43m in diameter and standing over 7m high. The cairn is of particular interest because of its unusual size and island location. It is located towards the northern end of the island of Lismore, on rough grazing land at 70m above sea level, with good views in all directions. The monument was first scheduled in 1957, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, measuring 60m in diameter centred on the cairn. The scheduling includes 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. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of a drystone wall and post-and-wire fence which bisect the monument.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The excavation of similar cairns elsewhere in Scotland has demonstrated that they were often used to cover and mark human burials. They are normally late Neolithic or Bronze Age in origin, dating most commonly from the late third millennium BC to the early second millennium BC. The cairn at Cnoc Aingil is significantly larger than average, although it has been suggested that the size of the cairn may have been emphasised by its siting on a natural rock outcrop.

Despite some evidence of localised disturbance, the structural integrity of the cairn appears intact and it is in good overall condition, suggesting that important archaeological information is highly likely to survive beneath its surface. The cairn may incorporate or overlie one or several graves or pits containing cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, and artefacts including pottery and stone tools. These deposits can help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemoration of the dead at specific times in prehistory. They may also help us to understand the changing structure of society in the area. 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 and charred plant material, may also survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us build up a picture of the climate, vegetation and the nature of agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, prehistoric burial cairns are often inter-visible and sometimes seem to be positioned specifically to maximise their visual impact. Cnoc Aingil cairn is a prominent feature of this island landscape, and has commanding views in all directions. The cairn is a significant part of the prehistoric heritage of Lismore and Lorne, not only because of its unusually large size and good condition, but also because of its proximity to broadly contemporary remains, including the discovery of an urn nearby containing human skeletal remains and ashes. Another, smaller burial cairn is located some 620m to the southwest.

Many cairns are known in Argyll, with particular clusters in South Kintyre, Mid Argyll, Lorne and in the west and south of Islay. Argyll cairns are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, often demonstrating re-use and veneration of earlier foci. Cairns have additional importance as they are the most prominent remains of early societies, whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record.

Cairns often display a long development sequence. At Cnoc Aingil, the sheer size of the cairn suggests that significant labour and organisation would have been required for its construction, which may perhaps indicate the status or importance of the person or people buried within it. The cairn's position in relation to other prehistoric monuments in Lismore merits further analysis, and could further our understanding of ritual and funerary site location and practice and the structure of 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 the significance of these monuments to prehistoric and later societies. Buried evidence from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about the communities living here, where they came from and who they had contact with. 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

Sources

Bibliography

On 23 March 2012 Andrew Fulton wrote to the two owners, Mr MacCormick and Mr Livingstone, telling them about the scheduling assessment. A reply was received from Mr Livingstone (Baron of Bachuil) on 21 April. On 11 May, Andrew Fulton visited and recorded the monument with Mr Livingstone. On 21 June, we wrote to Mr Livingstone confirming our intention to proceed with this rescheduling.

RCAHMS records the site as CANMORE 23086. There is no record for the site held by West of Scotland Archaeology Service.

References

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1988, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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