Ancient Monuments

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Dunamuck, cairn and two standing stones 460m ENE of

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Argyll, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.0753 / 56°4'31"N

Longitude: -5.4592 / 5°27'32"W

OS Eastings: 184820

OS Northings: 692339

OS Grid: NR848923

Mapcode National: GBR DDXN.D62

Mapcode Global: WH0J4.3KNF

Entry Name: Dunamuck, cairn and two standing stones 460m ENE of

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1933

Last Amended: 15 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM198

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Glassary

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Mid Argyll

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises a burial cairn and two standing stones of Neolithic or Bronze Age date (some time between 4000 and 1000 BC). The cairn survives as a grass-covered stony mound, sub-oval in shape, measuring c 20m by 16m transversely and standing up to 0.6m high. The two large prostrate stones are located about 25m to the SE of the cairn. The westernmost stone is 3.1m long by 1.4m wide and 0.4m thick (maximum). The eastern stone is 4m long by 1.7m wide and 0.4m thick. The monument lies in a grass-covered field 240m W of the River Add. The monument was first scheduled in 1933, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is in two parts, both circular on plan. The first measures 30m in diameter, centred on the cairn. The second is 20m in diameter, centered on the centre point between the two stones. The scheduling includes the cairn and the stones 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

Standing stones that have been investigated typically date from the third or second millennium BC. Although the Dunamuck stones have both fallen, there is no evidence to suggest that they have been moved from their original location, particularly as they appear to have been positioned with reference to the cairn. It is likely, therefore, that related archaeological remains, including their sockets and possibly burial deposits, will be present at or around the original bases of the stones. The likely presence of associated artefacts and/or important environmental information in a pit or pits beneath and around the stones enhances the importance of the monument. Considerable effort would have been required to quarry, transport, position and erect these stones, which suggests that it was considered a significant and worthwhile activity to those who were responsible.

The adjacent mound is almost certainly a burial cairn. The excavation of similar mounds elsewhere in Scotland has demonstrated that round cairns were often 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. The irregular shape of the cairn suggests that it has suffered some disturbance, but there is no evidence that it has been excavated previously. There is good potential for the survival of important archaeological information beneath its surface, including burial deposits. Burial cairns of this date commonly incorporate or overlie cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, 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. 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 survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us build up a picture of climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

In many instances, the location of standing stones and cairns appears to have been chosen to take advantage of route-ways and significant views, and to enable inter-visibility with other broadly contemporary monuments. These types of monument often form part of a wider ritual landscape, as in this case.

The Dunamuck cairn and standing stones are situated on the sand and gravel terraces of the River Add. The river would most likely have offered an important mode of transport, at least for smaller boats, while the sandy deposits around the River Add and the Kilmartin Burn offer the only significant areas of good agricultural land in the region. This area has been a focus of human activity since the Neolithic period and contains a dense concentration of prehistoric funerary, ritual and ceremonial monuments. The standing stones and the cairn are apparently sited with direct reference to each other, while another pair of standing stones which lie approximately 160m to the N are also clearly visible from the cairn.

There are reports of a number of other burial and ritual monuments in the immediate vicinity. In 1868, Simpson reported that this cairn was one of a group of three within this same field, and that another 'three circles and cairns' lay in the adjoining lower field but had been largely destroyed 'by blasting them with gunpowder'. It is clear from Simpson's report that the standing stones ('the two great prostrate pillars' as he calls them) had fallen before 1868. In addition, two cists were uncovered in the 1960s approximately 85m ESE of Dunamuck cairn.

Of all the burial monuments reported in this vicinity, only this cairn and a chambered cairn situated 450m to the SW have left any visible remains. Further study of the prehistoric monuments in the vicinity may add to our understanding of the nature of their inter-relationships and increase our knowledge of the way in which contemporary society may have used different parts of the landscape.

Associative characteristics

The standing stones are labelled 'Standing Stones' on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, which also depicts the cairn although it is not named. The same map records a 'Stone Cist found' some 90m to the E of the monument, in approximately the same vicinity as the cists found in the 1960s.

National Importance

These monuments are of national importance as well-preserved examples of prehistoric ceremonial and burial monuments dating to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. They are particularly valuable because they are situated next to an important route-way and form part of a much wider landscape of prehistoric ritual monuments in the Kilmartin Glen. These monuments have the potential to enhance our understanding of the social and ceremonial activity that took place here, as well as the wider beliefs of the prehistoric people that used these sites. The loss of this site would significantly impede our ability to understand the nature of early prehistoric settlement, social organisation and ritual, both in Argyll and further afield.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the cairn and standing stones as NR89SW 29 and NR89SW 24 respectively. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR references are 4175 and 4172.


Campbell, M and Sandeman, M 1964 'Mid Argyll: an archaeological survey', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 95, 14, no. 91; 26, no. 76; 32, 222.

RCAHMS 1988a The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments, 59-60, no. 46(2); 133-4, no. 213(3). Edinburgh.

Simpson, J Y 1868 'On ancient sculpturings of cups and concentric rings, etc.', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 6, 37.

Ruggles, C L N 1984a Megalithic astronomy: a new archaeological and statistical study of 300 western Scottish sites, Brit Archaeol Rep 123. Oxford.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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