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Ardnacross, chambered cairn 1000m NNW of

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.4883 / 55°29'17"N

Longitude: -5.5389 / 5°32'20"W

OS Eastings: 176520

OS Northings: 627302

OS Grid: NR765273

Mapcode National: GBR DGP6.KNB

Mapcode Global: WH0LZ.W9LY

Entry Name: Ardnacross, chambered cairn 1000m NNW of

Scheduled Date: 13 August 1975

Last Amended: 10 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3721

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Campbeltown

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of a chambered cairn of likely Neolithic date, from some time between 4000 BC and 1500 BC. The cairn is situated on a shelf of level ground on a slight SE-facing slope, at about 135m above sea level overlooking Kilbrannan Sound. The monument was first scheduled in 1975, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The monument comprises the remains of two chambers of a Clyde-type chambered cairn, visible as a group of heather-covered orthostats within an area of forestry clearance. None of the cairn material survives. The main (larger) chamber is aligned NNE by SSW, with its entrance to the NNE, and comprises two slabs placed side by side on the E side and one end slab to the SSW. The surviving chamber measures about 3.8m in length and 1m in width. A large slab measuring 2m by 1.5m lying to the E of the chamber is likely to be a capstone. The second chamber lies about 1.5m behind the first one, at right angles to it. It has at least two compartments and is aligned WNW-ESE, with the entrance facing WNW. It measures about 2.4m by 1m internally. The remains comprise one terminal slab, one septal slab, three stones on the NE side, two of which overlap and are just visible under the turf and heather growth, and one slab on the SW side. A stone which may be a portal stone or a displaced chamber slab sits immediately W of the chamber.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, measuring 30m in diameter, centred on the mid-point of the SSW terminal slab of the main chamber. 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. They were often in use over a long period of time and could house the remains of multiple individuals. Although none of the cairn material survives at Ardnacross, and some of the orthostats have been disturbed, the two chambers retain their basic structure and form and are in reasonably good condition overall. The use of a main burial chamber and a secondary lateral chamber is similar to Clyde-type cairns elsewhere, such as the long cairns at Auchnaha and Auchoish. The remains of the chambered cairn at Ardnacross have the potential to enhance our understanding of the evolution and adaptation of prehistoric burial monuments and the study of regional and local variations. There is also the potential for the survival of significant buried archaeological remains, which could help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemorating the dead at specific periods in prehistory. For example, recent excavations in and around the fa├žade area of other chambered cairns suggest 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 about the nature of the environment when the monument was built. 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 to build up a picture of 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 seaboard of Scotland. 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 cairn at Ardnacross is located on a shelf of level ground on a SE-facing slope. As such the cairn would have commanded wide-reaching views over the Sound of Kilbrannan, which is likely to have been an important communication and transport route. Similarly, the cairn in its prominent position would have been easily viewed from route-ways through the landscape and from the sea. A number of other prehistoric monuments are located nearby, many of which would have been inter-visible. In particular, a number of cup-marked rocks have been found in the vicinity of the cairn. On the lower slopes near the coast, there are a number of other burial cairns ' one known as Ardnacross II and one, or possibly two, cairns at Kildonald Point ' which may have been intervisible with this Ardnacross cairn prior to forestry planting.

Study of this site in comparison with other monuments in the vicinity can tell us about the economy and settlement patterns in prehistory. The position of this cairn in relation to 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, as well as the movement of peoples and ideas throughout the British Isles.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a good example of a Clyde-type 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 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




Henshall, A S 1972, The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 2, p. 349 (ARG 29), Edinburgh.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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