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Dunan Buiaig, cairn, Kilninver

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.3402 / 56°20'24"N

Longitude: -5.5235 / 5°31'24"W

OS Eastings: 182326

OS Northings: 722007

OS Grid: NM823220

Mapcode National: GBR DCRY.SV3

Mapcode Global: WH0GR.4W1W

Entry Name: Dunan Buiaig, cairn, Kilninver

Scheduled Date: 28 October 1977

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3996

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Kilninver and Kilmelfort

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument is a prehistoric cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built probably between 4000 and 1000 BC. It is visible as an irregularly shaped stony mound, measuring approximately 26m N-S by 22m transversely and standing 1m high. The cairn stands 10m above sea level, on flat land close to the mouth of the River Euchar. It is sited opposite Ardentallon Point, at the narrow outlet from Loch Feochan to the open sea. The monument was first scheduled in 1977, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, measuring 36m 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.

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 Dunan Buiaig cairn is a large example of its type and may have been larger still before it was robbed of much of its stone around the year 1810. Buried remains of its original layout may remain beneath the present ground surface. During the stone robbing, workmen found a stone cist (no longer visible) containing a cremation that had been placed in an urn. Despite this disturbance, the cairn retains high potential to cover important archaeological remains. Researchers know from other examples that cairns frequently incorporate or overlie several graves or pits, and it is common for additional burials to survive a robbing event. As well as cremations or inhumations, graves can contain 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 early society in the area. The cairn is also 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 are positioned to maximise their visual impact. This example occupies a strategic location on the S side of the outlet of Loch Feochan. It is one of a string of burial cairns and possible burial cairns spread along the floor of the valley of the River Euchar, and can be compared with a fine burial cairn with a prominent kerb, which lies 1.5km to the SE at Barochreal. The positioning of cairns on the valley floor resembles the placement of burial monuments in glens near Loch Nell and Kilmartin. Argyll cairns are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, and may indicate re-use and veneration of earlier foci. Cairns have additional importance as the most prominent remains of early societies, whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record. The cairn's position in relation to other prehistoric monuments in the valley merits further analysis, and could improve 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 local communities, where they came from and who they had contact with. The loss of the monument would 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

RCAHMS records the site as CANMORE 22973. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is 1163.

References

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1975, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 2: Lorn, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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