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Dalaneas, chambered cairn 90m SSE of, & cairns 30m south west of & 100m SSW of

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

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Latitude: 56.3867 / 56°23'12"N

Longitude: -5.4356 / 5°26'8"W

OS Eastings: 188012

OS Northings: 726899

OS Grid: NM880268

Mapcode National: GBR DCYV.4YT

Mapcode Global: WH0GL.GQTR

Entry Name: Dalaneas, chambered cairn 90m SSE of, & cairns 30m SW of & 100m SSW of

Scheduled Date: 20 August 1979

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4156

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 comprises three prehistoric burial cairns. One is a chambered cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built and used probably between 4000 and 1500 BC. It is visible as a circular turf-covered mound of stones, approximately 20m in diameter and 1.5m high. This cairn has been built on the W end of a natural curving ridge known as the 'Serpent Mound'. The two other cairns lie 70m to the W and 90m to the WNW. They each measure about 11m in diameter and 1m high and represent potential burial cairns of similar date. The cairns lie about 20m above sea level, on the W side of the valley floor, on land that slopes gently down towards the SW end of Loch Nell. The monument was first scheduled in 1979, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

There are three separate areas to be scheduled. The scheduled area for the chambered cairn lies to the E, is irregular on plan, and includes the 'Serpent Mound' on which the cairn stands. The scheduled area for the SW cairn is a circle measuring 30m in diameter centred on the SW cairn. The scheduled area for the NW cairn is irregular. The scheduling includes the remains described above and areas 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 form of the chambered cairn is known from an excavation conducted in 1871. The chamber comprised three large blocks of granite arranged approximately in a triangular shape. Today parts of two granite slabs are visible, surrounded by a tumble of smaller stones. Researchers do not attribute the chambered cairn to a particular type, though it is believed that Argyll's chambered cairns date predominantly to the third millennium BC. The excavator of this example, Dr Phene, suggested that there may be a further chamber buried immediately E of the remains he investigated. He reported that the chamber contained cremated bone, charcoal and a flint knife. This cairn was positioned by its builders on the W end of an esker, a natural glacial ridge of gravel, known locally as the 'Serpent Mound'. The tail of the esker points in the direction of Ben Cruachan, and the ridge may have had particular significance to the prehistoric peoples of the area.

The two smaller cairns are likely also to be burial cairns, perhaps placed with reference to the chambered cairn. 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 three cairns survive in stable condition. Although the chambered cairn has been robbed at the edges and partially excavated, there is good potential for additional buried archaeological evidence that can tell us more about the cairn and its use. The cairns may incorporate or overlie one or more 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 early society in the area. The cairns are likely to overlie and seal a buried land surface that could provide evidence of the immediate environment before they were constructed. Botanical remains, including pollen and charred plant material, may also survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairns' 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 cairns.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, prehistoric burial cairns are often inter-visible and sometimes seem to be positioned specifically to maximise their visual impact. Chambered cairns in particular are often situated close to other cairns or ritual and funerary sites, frequently on good arable or pasture land. This group of cairns may be closely related to another chambered cairn, which lies only 200m to the S. However, these cairns all lie at the northern end of a remarkable concentration of at least 10 cairns scattered along the valley floor between the SW end of Loch Nell and the head of Loch Feochan, a sea loch. The density of ritual sites in the vicinity is so great that the area can be identified as a ritual landscape comparable to Kilmartin Glen. It is probable that the monuments here were created over many centuries, reflecting re-use and veneration of earlier foci. The position of these cairns in relation to each other and 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.

Associative characteristics

The two more southerly cairns are marked, but not labelled, on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map. The chambered cairn was excavated by the antiquarian Dr J S Phene in 1871.

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. This group of cairns has particular importance because it lies in a dense cluster of burial monuments that were positioned in the landscape probably with reference to one another. Buried evidence from the 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



RCAHMS records the cairns as CANMORE 22915, 22919 and 22933. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR references are 1105, 1109 and 1123.


Henshall, A S, 1972 Chambered Cairns of Scotland, volume 2, 363-4. Edinburgh.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1975, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 2: Lorn, Edinburgh. 52, No 57.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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