Ancient Monuments

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Auchachenna, chambered cairn 190m south east of Craigloiste

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

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Latitude: 56.3406 / 56°20'26"N

Longitude: -5.1991 / 5°11'56"W

OS Eastings: 202369

OS Northings: 721066

OS Grid: NN023210

Mapcode National: GBR FCJY.Z59

Mapcode Global: WH1J1.3WHM

Entry Name: Auchachenna, chambered cairn 190m SE of Craigloiste

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1977

Last Amended: 19 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4047

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: long cairn

Location: Kilchrenan and Dalavich

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of a Clyde-type chambered long cairn of Neolithic date. It is visible as a long low mound of stones, now lying within a field of rough pasture. The cairn measures some 30m in length with its long axis aligned NNW-SSE. The NNW end of the cairn has been truncated by a stone dyke, but the measurements of the surviving monument, 14m in width at the SSE side narrowing to 11m at the NNW, suggest that it was originally trapezoidal in shape. The cairn survives to a maximum height of 1.6m at the SE end where a chamber is located. The chamber, which measures about 6.8m by 1.1m, is on the same alignment as the cairn and is delineated by six surviving slabs: four marking the SW side and one at the NW end. Another stone which has been slightly displaced appears to belong to the NE side. The SW portal stone survives to an impressive height of 1.45m and three other stones, located at the SE end of the chamber, may be part of the façade. The cairn is situated on a slight rocky ridge in an otherwise level field at about 150m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1978, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is oval on plan and measures 40m NNW-SSE by 24m NNE-SSW. 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:

Excavations elsewhere have demonstrated that chambered cairns were in use between around 4000 BC and 1500 BC, although the Clyde cairn form dates predominantly to the third millennium BC. The chambered long cairn at Auchachenna has several features typical of the Clyde group. Although truncated, the measurements of the surviving monument suggest it was trapezoidal on plan. It also has a simple megalithic chamber opening from the front end of the cairn, which was edged by a façade of upright stones. The entranceway, marked by the single surviving portal stone, would have allowed access to the main chamber for the deposition of human remains, probably over a lengthy period.

Although the cairn has been disturbed, the footprint of the monument remains largely intact and much of the cairn fabric survives, as does the main chamber. Overall the monument is in a stable condition. This chambered long cairn has high potential to enhance our understanding of the evolution of prehistoric burial monuments and the study of regional and local variations in burial practice. There is also high potential for the survival of further archaeological remains. Cairns like this were often adapted over time and many include later lateral chambers, such as the long cairns at Auchnaha and Auchoish. Buried deposits associated with cairns can help us to understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemoration of the dead at specific periods in prehistory. They may also help us to understand the changing structure of society in the area. Recent excavations around the façade area of chambered cairns have demonstrated that important archaeological deposits are likely to occur here, including hearths and ritual deposits, for example, quartz pebbles, shells and deliberately broken pottery.

In addition, the cairn is likely to overlie and seal a buried ground surface that could provide evidence of the environment when the monument was built. Botanical remains, including pollen and charred plant material, may survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us to reconstruct a picture of the climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

Clyde type cairns have a wide distribution in the southern part of the western Scottish seaboard. The greatest concentration is in the southern half of Arran, although significant groupings are also found on the upper reaches of Loch Fyne, Kilmartin, Kintyre, Islay, Bute, and to the north of the Clyde estuary. Many were sited in prominent locations to maximise their visual impact, and they often appear to have been positioned with reference to other prehistoric monuments in the landscape.

The chambered long cairn at Auchachenna is located on a relatively level area of ground between Loch Awe and a fairly steep SE-facing slope. It is likely that this area was a natural route-way, from which the cairn would have been visible. In addition, a number of cairns which would have been inter-visible with this chambered cairn are scattered along the upper SE-facing slopes. The position of this cairn in relation to the other prehistoric monuments in this landscape merits future analysis. It has the potential to further our understanding of funerary site location, ritual practice, and the structure and beliefs of early prehistoric society.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a fine example of a Clyde type chambered long cairn of the early prehistoric period in Argyll. 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 period 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 it is reasonably well preserved, has the potential for further archaeological information such as burial and ritual deposits, and because of its position relative to other broadly contemporary prehistoric monuments. 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 times.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as NN02SW 4. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is 1643.


Henshall, A S 1972, The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 2, 332 (ARG 19), Edinburgh.

RCAHMS 1988a, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, vol 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments, p 40-1, no 4. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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