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Dalineun, chambered cairn 265m south of Dalaneas

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

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Latitude: 56.3849 / 56°23'5"N

Longitude: -5.4358 / 5°26'8"W

OS Eastings: 187994

OS Northings: 726704

OS Grid: NM879267

Mapcode National: GBR DCYV.4XF

Mapcode Global: WH0GL.GSR3

Entry Name: Dalineun, chambered cairn 265m S of Dalaneas

Scheduled Date: 17 May 1979

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4155

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Kilmore and Kilbride

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument is a chambered cairn of Neolithic date, built and used between 4000 and 1500 BC. It is visible as a low grass-covered mound measuring 19m N-S by 17m transversely. In the centre, a large stone chamber is visible as an upstanding structure. The upper surfaces of the slabs of a large cist are also visible protruding above the turf, some 2m to the SW. The chambered cairn stands at about 20m OD in a valley floor location on land that slopes gently E towards Loch Nell. The monument was first scheduled in 1979, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, 40m in diameter, centred on the middle of 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 monument is a Clyde-type chambered cairn. Researchers attribute this type predominantly to the third millennium BC. Clyde cairns typically consist of an inner chamber or chambers built of massive slabs, frequently built up with dry-stone walling and packed with smaller stones. Their chambers are often situated on an artificially raised platform, enclosed by a kerb of stones, with a recessed front. Chambers may have received burials over a long period of time and there is often evidence for complex development sequences.

This monument was partly excavated by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) in 1970-1. The excavation indicated that the cairn is the product of four distinct phases. Initially, the main burial chamber was erected within a heel-shaped cairn. The chamber measures 2.5m NE-SW by 1.2m transversely and stands up to 1.4m tall. It consists of six large slabs roofed by a massive capstone. Two of the stones stand on either side of the entrance. A lintel which once spanned the entrance was found dislodged outside the tomb. Sockets for a dividing slab indicate that the chamber was once divided into two compartments. Neolithic pottery, flint flakes and sherds of early Bronze Age beaker pottery were found inside the chamber. In a second phase of construction, a small cist less than 0.6m long was inserted in front of the entrance to the chamber. It had been used for a cremation burial and contained cremated bones. In the third phase, stones were piled in front of the tomb, perhaps to effect a ritual blocking of the earlier monument and producing the oval-shaped cairn visible today. Finally, in the fourth phase, the large cist that is still visible was inserted behind the main chamber. Cremated bone and a Bronze Age food vessel were found close to the N side of the chamber.

The monument survives in stable condition. About half of the cairn has not been excavated and, although it has suffered some stone robbing, there is good potential for the survival of buried archaeological evidence that can tell us more about the cairn and its history of use and reuse. The intact portion of the cairn may contain additional human remains and ritual deposits and has the potential to add complexity to the story of the cairn's development. Surviving deposits may include charcoal, botanical remains and traces of the original ground surface. They can tell us about dating, ritual activity, pyre technology, the nature of the contemporary environment and climate and, possibly, early farming activity and settlement more generally. Future research on this cairn could allow us to refine our understanding of the development sequence and its chronology and duration of use, and give further insights into the use and evolution of beliefs and funerary practices in the late Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Contextual characteristics

Chambered cairns are often found on or close to good arable or pasture land, as in this example, which lies just above the valley floor. They have particular importance as the most prominent remains of early societies whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have so far proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record. The study of their distribution can tell us about the economy and settlement patterns in the vicinity. Chambered cairns are often situated close to other cairns or other ritual or funerary sites. The Dalineun cairn lies close to several other chambered cairns in the Cleigh area, including one cairn sited on a natural feature known as the Serpent Mound only 200m to the N, and another with a large cist or small chamber located 400m to the SSE. Indeed, the concentration of ritual sites in this vicinity is so great that the area between Loch Nell and the sea can be identified as a ritual landscape comparable to Kilmartin Glen. It is probable that the monuments here were created over many centuries, reflecting the re-use and veneration of earlier foci of ritual activity.

This monument was originally a heel-shaped cairn, which has prompted the suggestion that it bears comparison with court cairns in Northern Ireland. Further study of this site and others in the vicinity may help us to gain a better understanding of contacts between western Scotland and Ireland in this period, and indeed throughout the British Isles, including the movement of peoples and ideas. The NE-SW alignment of the chambered cairn is typical of this monument type.

Associative characteristics

The site is annotated as 'Cist' on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map. The site was described and illustrated as early as 1869 by the antiquarian Angus Smith, and by Pitt-Rivers in 1885.

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. Chambered cairns provide the chief material evidence for the Neolithic in this part of Scotland. Buried evidence from chambered cairns can enhance our knowledge about wider prehistoric society and economy, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is particularly valuable because of its location within a significant cluster of funerary sites. Its loss 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 times.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as CANMORE 22934. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is 1124. 'Dalineun' is an alternative spelling of the farm name, Dalnaneun, and is the name used by RCAHMS for this chambered cairn in the 1970-1 excavation report.


Ritchie, J N G, 1974 'Excavation of a chambered cairn at Dalineun, Lorn, Argyll', PSAS 104, 48-62.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1975, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 2: Lorn, Edinburgh, p 63.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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