Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Kildonald Point, fort and cairn 515m south east of Kildonald Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 55.4874 / 55°29'14"N

Longitude: -5.5127 / 5°30'45"W

OS Eastings: 178172

OS Northings: 627117

OS Grid: NR781271

Mapcode National: GBR DGR6.KPV

Mapcode Global: WH0M0.9B5N

Entry Name: Kildonald Point, fort and cairn 515m SE of Kildonald Cottage

Scheduled Date: 29 December 1971

Last Amended: 10 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3110

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: fort (includes hill and promontory fort); Prehistoric ritual and

Location: Campbeltown

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises a prehistoric round cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built probably between 4000 and 1000 BC, together with a large prehistoric fort likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). The cairn survives as a substantial, circular stone mound, around 23m in diameter and standing up to 3m high. The fort, some 75m ENE of the cairn, survives as a substantial rectilinear stony bank enclosing an area measuring approximately 55m from NE-SW by 65m transversely. Both monuments are sited in an area of rough grazing and are partly obscured by scrub and woody vegetation. They are located on a coastal headland on the E shore of Kintyre at 15m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1971, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to 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. The scheduled area uses the mean high water spring mark as its seaward boundary. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground remains of an Ordnance Survey triangulation station to allow for its maintenance.

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The cairn is stable and in relatively good condition. Despite the removal of some cairn material from the E half, the footprint of the structure is reasonably intact. The cairn represents a substantial burial monument and is likely to overlie one or more graves. It stands over 3m high and is now spread to some 23m in diameter, but a short stretch of a heavy boulder kerb exposed on the SW indicates that the original diameter of the cairn may have been around 18.5m. The cairn has the potential to enhance our understanding of the date, design, construction and use of these monuments. Any graves that survive may contain skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, as well as artefacts including pottery and stone tools. These deposits can help us to understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemoration of the dead at specific times in prehistory.

The fort, some 75m to the ENE, takes advantage of a natural, coastal headland with an easterly outlook over Kilbrannan Sound and to Arran beyond. A steep rocky face provides natural protection along the SE edge, but elsewhere the fort is protected and enclosed by a substantial rectilinear drystone wall, up to 4m wide. In several places the internal and external wall-faces are still visible. The wall was built of stones of mixed sizes, but includes massive blocks of stone measuring as much as 1.4m by 0.6m. The entrance is in the middle of the NE side, at the head of a natural gully 3m wide. A corresponding break in the W side is thought to be a secondary feature. At the outer edge of the enclosure wall, a sub-rectangular sunken area is defined by a curving stone bank; its date and function is unclear. The interior of the fort rises by some 9m from NW to SE and is uneven. No structural remains are visible on the ground surface and areas of bedrock are exposed occasionally. The footprint of the fort appears relatively intact, despite later cultivation and some clearance works in parts of the interior. There is high potential for the survival of buried deposits and features beneath and beyond the wall, as well as within the fort's interior. Future examination of the fort could provide detailed information about its date, form and construction, and investigation of the interior could enhance our understanding of how it was used and how this may have changed over time.

Overall, this site was clearly in use over an extended period, though probably not continuously, and it is likely to preserve a complex development sequence. The fort wall and cairn may seal superimposed buried ground surfaces, which could contain botanical remains, including pollen and charred plant material. This type of evidence can help us to build up a picture of changes in the climate, vegetation and the nature of wider land-use in the area before and during the construction and use of firstly the cairn, and subsequently the fort.

In the area immediately surrounding the cairn and the fort, the remains of banks, depressions, an enclosure and a possible kiln are visible. The precise dates and functions of these various remains is unclear, but some may have been associated with the cairn or fort. They contribute to the time-depth of the site and can enhance our understanding of the long history of use and re-use of this coastal location. Together, the cairn and the fort have the potential to contribute to our understanding of the nature of prehistoric burial practice, and the design, construction, development and use of Iron Age defended settlements in western Scotland and further afield.

Contextual characteristics

The coastal location of the cairn is interesting when compared with inland cairns and those along major natural routeways. Cairns are often found in clusters (such as those in S Kintyre and mid Argyll) and are often components of ritual landscapes, created over many centuries. In this case, the proximity of broadly contemporary burial and ceremonial monuments along Glenlussa Water (the closest being cists, standing stones and cairns, located some 2km to the SW) indicates a possible group association, which adds to the cultural value of the monuments. Funerary monuments have additional importance as they are the most prominent remains of early societies, whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record.

The fort makes use of the strategic location offered by this projecting headland. It was a place both meant to be seen and to see from. It overlooks a coastal approach from the N along Kilbrannan Sound; eastwards over the W side of Arran and SE over the approaches to the wider firth. Like the duns on the W Kintyre coast, this fort may have been part of a coastal network of broadly contemporary sites, including a dun at Ugadale Point, 1.5km to the N, and a fort near Saddell House, just over 5km to the NNE. These sites represent considerable effort in late prehistoric times to defend the then population of Kintyre in a range of variously sized strongholds that exploited the natural visual and strategic qualities of knolls and headlands.

Forts are less common than other forms of defended settlement in later prehistoric Scotland. They represent around 10% of the total number of defensive enclosures, which number over 500 in Argyll, including brochs, crannogs, duns and hut circles. Researchers believe that forts represent the remains of spaces with strategic as well as domestic uses, and that they could accommodate quite large groups of people on a temporary or permanent basis. They are largely a coastal phenomenon and tend to be located on locally high ground, along prominent coastal routes or within easy reach of the coast. Taken overall, the fort at Kildonan Point has high potential to contribute to our understanding of the Iron Age and later occupation of Kintyre and further afield.

Associative characteristics

Both the fort and the cairn are labelled as such on the first edition Ordnance Survey map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

This multi-period monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular, the study of early prehistoric burial practices, and the design and function of later prehistoric forts. The monument has high potential to enhance our understanding of the connections between the cairn and the fort and their wider contemporary landscape, and of the people who lived, worked and were buried in this vicinity, including changes in economy and society over several millennia. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the occupation of Argyll in prehistory.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

On 23 March 2012 Andrew Fulton wrote to the owners informing them about the scheduling assessment. We received a reply from the occupier and on 23 May 2012 Richard Heawood met with the owner and then visited the site. On 27 June 2012 Richard Heawood wrote to the owner and occupier confirming our intention to progress this rescheduling.

RCAHMS records the site as NR72NE 11 and 12. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 3332 and 3331.

References

CFA, 2004, Coastal Zone Assessment Survey. Firth of Clyde and Isle of Bute. [circulated typescript report]. CFA Archaeology Ltd.

RCAHMS 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 1: Kintyre, p 71-2, no 167. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.