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Old Glennan, standing stone 60m north of, and cairns 50m & 125m north west of

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Argyll, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.1542 / 56°9'15"N

Longitude: -5.4522 / 5°27'7"W

OS Eastings: 185693

OS Northings: 701096

OS Grid: NM856010

Mapcode National: GBR DDXG.3C6

Mapcode Global: WH0HR.6KZY

Entry Name: Old Glennan, standing stone 60m N of, and cairns 50m & 125m NW of

Scheduled Date: 11 January 1993

Last Amended: 19 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5514

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Kilmartin

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Mid Argyll

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises three cairns and a standing stone of Neolithic or Bronze Age date (some time between 4000 and 1000 BC). The monument survives as three turf-covered mounds of stone within a later enclosure and a single standing stone incorporated into the line of a later wall. The easternmost cairn is the largest, measuring approximately 28m in diameter and standing up to 1m high. The northernmost cairn is approximately 11.5m in diameter and stands 1.5m high, while the southern cairn is 6.5m in diameter and 0.8m high. The standing stone, aligned NNE-SSW, measures 1.2m by 0.5m at its base and tapers to a pointed top at a height of 2.2m. The monument is of particular interest as a well preserved group of associated burial and ritual monuments in a landscape rich in such monuments. It is located on grazing land at 50m above sea level on the valley floor, southwest of Loch Ederline. The monument was first scheduled in 1993, under the name 'Creaganterve Beg, cairns, standing stone and farmstead 550m SSW of', and included the ruins of a deserted farmstead. The main building has since been restored as a dwelling with scheduled monument consent. The present rescheduling relates to the prehistoric remains only, and excludes the occupied dwelling and associated remains.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, comprising four circles (two of them interlocking) centred on the centres of the individual features. The circle round the easternmost cairn is 40m in diameter; the circles round the other two cairns are 22m (northernmost) and 18m in diameter; and the circle round the standing stone is 10m in diameter. These circles include 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. Specifically excluded from the scheduling is the top 30cm of the adjoining metalled surface of a road to allow for its maintenance.

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. The standing stone and cluster of cairns are highly likely to be associated with each other: standing stones are often located with reference to other ritual or burial monuments.

All three cairns survive in reasonably good condition and appear largely intact, despite having seen some limited archaeological investigation (which partly explains their uneven shape today). The centre of the N cairn has been disturbed, revealing what was probably the overturned cover slab of a cist. This slab measured 1.6m by 1.2m and was decorated with at least nine cupmarks, underlining the ritual aspect of prehistoric burial. The presence of the capstone indicates that the cairn contained at least one burial, possibly with grave goods. The capstone itself is not visible today, but is probably obscured by the vegetation in the central hollow. Researchers have suggested that a slight depression around this cairn may indicate the presence of a ditch. The second cairn lies about 3m to the SSW and its centre has also been disturbed. These two cairns lie some 80m NNE of the largest cairn. A small trial trench across the edge of the largest cairn revealed it to be composed mainly of rounded cobbles within a possible stone kerb. The standing stone was incorporated into a wall which formed one of the enclosures around the 18th-century farmstead, but is almost certainly in its original location.

The cairns and standing stone all have the potential to retain important structural, artefactual and environmental evidence, surviving in buried layers. Burial cairns of this date may incorporate or overlie several graves or pits containing 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 cairns are 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 monument'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 cairns and standing stone. There is also potential to examine the construction and dating of the three adjacent cairns within the scheduled area and to study how they relate to each other and to the standing stone. Both types of monument are commonly ascribed to sometime between the late third millennium BC and the early second millennium BC. The remains at Easter Eurach have the potential to provide more precise dating evidence and to help us understand the site's development sequence and any changes in its use and function.

Contextual characteristics

Ritual and funerary monuments, such as standing stones and burial cairns, are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, often demonstrating re-use and veneration of earlier foci. They appear to reflect a complex system of belief and ritual practices involving burial and commemoration of the dead, spiritual ceremonies and celestial observations. Consequently, individual monuments may be connected in many ways, not only by their form and architecture, but also by the positions they occupy in a particular landscape and their inter-visibility. This is nowhere more obvious than in the exceptionally rich archaeological landscape of Kilmartin Glen and the surrounding area. Researchers have suggested that the glen was part of an important routeway between the west coast of Scotland and further inland. This may be supported by the sheer density of monuments in this landscape, and generally in mid Argyll, including broadly contemporary burial cairns, ceremonial sites, standing stones, stone circles and open-air rock art sites.

This monument is located in a small area connecting the glens of Kilmartin and Kilmichael Glassary with Loch Awe to the NE, which is rich in broadly contemporary monuments. These include rock art panels 230m to the SSE and NE and 730m to the NE, a cairn 600m to the NE and a standing stone 500m to the NNE. Researchers have concluded that the latter may have been aligned and inter-visible with the standing stone at Easter Eurach, and that the two stones may have been connected with celestial observation. The survival of so many impressive burial and ceremonial monuments in neighbouring areas and across mid Argyll highlights the archaeological importance and potential of this part of Scotland. This monument is significant as part of the wider picture of prehistoric communities and their activities on the west coast of Scotland. It could further our understanding of the positioning of burial monuments and standing stones in relation to each other and in the landscape more generally, and of the significance of these monuments to the societies that built and used them. This example is also important because in the absence of significant remains from settlement and domestic activity of this period, it is one of the main sources for us to study and understand prehistoric life.

Associative characteristics

Although no longer a scheduled monument, the adjacent farmstead of Glennan is of archaeological interest in its own right as the remains of an 18th-century tacksman's house with associated features, including outbuildings, servant's quarters, a kitchen and a lime-tree lined garden. It was depicted as a series of ruins on the Ordnance Survey map of 1875 and most of the extant features are depicted on this map: two main rectangular enclosures with associated buildings, smaller enclosures, small cairns and field banks. The SW enclosure contains the main dwelling house (now restored and occupied) which measures 10.5m by 7m and originally had four fireplaces, despite an apparent lack of internal divisions.

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, the relationship between standing stones and alignments and funerary monuments, and their significance in prehistoric and later society. Buried evidence from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is particularly valuable because it lies in a landscape rich in prehistoric monuments, including other standing stones and cairns. 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, burial and ritual in prehistoric life.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NM80SE 28, NM80SE 30, NM80SE 31 and NM80SE32. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPINs 976, 979, 980 and 981.

References

Campbell, M and Sandeman, M, 1964. 'Mid Argyll: an archaeological survey', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 95, 16, 33.

James, H F, 2005, Glennan, Ford, Argyll. Standing building survey and archaeological Excavation. Data structure report. Circulated typescript report.

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

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1988, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, prehistoric and early historic monuments, Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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