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Dalnaneun, cairns 240m and 275m WNW of

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.3815 / 56°22'53"N

Longitude: -5.4339 / 5°26'1"W

OS Eastings: 188091

OS Northings: 726316

OS Grid: NM880263

Mapcode National: GBR DCYV.KRF

Mapcode Global: WH0GL.HVNR

Entry Name: Dalnaneun, cairns 240m and 275m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 28 October 1977

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3992

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Kilmore and Kilbride

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises two prehistoric cairns of the late Neolithic or Bronze Age, dating probably from the second millennium BC. They survive as substantial, circular turf-covered mounds of stones, some 80m apart. The northernmost of the two measures 23m in diameter and the southernmost measures 15m in diameter. They stand to a height of 1.4m and 0.9m respectively. They are of particular interest because of their proximity to each other and to other similar cairns in the vicinity, and because of their position along a land bridge connecting the sea loch, Loch Feochan to the southwest, Glen Feochan to the southeast and Loch Nell to the northeast. They are located on grazing land at 30m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1977, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled comprises two circles on plan, the northern circle measuring 44m in diameter and the southern circle measuring 34m in diameter. 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. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground elements of a post-and-wire fence 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. In the case of the northern of the two cairns here, significant structural and artefactual material has been uncovered. Stones identified around the base of the cairn are probably the remains of a kerb, while a cist setting comprising four very large slabs creates a burial space of 1.1m by 0.8m by 1.2m deep. From the cist, a rare, riveted dagger and two cremation burials were recovered during antiquarian excavations. The cairns are believed to date from around 1500 BC.

In both cairns, there are signs of physical disturbance including the removal of some cairn material to adjacent land. Despite this, they retain significant structural features and the overall footprint of both cairns is clearly visible. It has been suggested that the southern of the two cairns may represent a clearance cairn, but its proximity to the northern cairn, the similarity in size and shape of the two cairns, and its location in a rich relict landscape suggest it is more probably a burial cairn.

The cairns can provide much information about the design and function of prehistoric burial monuments. Their buried layers have high potential to contain archaeological evidence relating to their construction and use, including artefacts such as pottery and tools, human burials, and environmental evidence. Together this evidence can tell us much about burial and commemoration of the dead at specific times in prehistory. The cairns are likely to seal a buried ground surface which may also preserve evidence of the immediate environment, climate and vegetation cover before and during the monument's use.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, prehistoric burial cairns are often inter-visible and are sometimes positioned to maximise their visual impact. Argyll cairns are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, and may indicate re-use and veneration of earlier foci. In this case, the monument is one of a rich cluster of almost 20 similar cairns and possible cairns located along two kilometres of the valley floor of Glen Feochan and the River Nell. Many would have been inter-visible over the centuries or millennia that this relatively narrow and confined landscape was a focus for burial and commemoration, and subsequently. Once the cairns had been finally sealed, it is likely that they continued to hold a significant place in the landscape as monuments and markers of the ancestors.

National Importance

Many cairns are known of in Argyll, with particular clusters in South Kintyre, Mid Argyll, Lorne and in the west and south of Islay. Cairns have additional importance as they are the most prominent remains of early societies, whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have so far proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record. The density of ritual sites in the vicinity is so great that the area can be identified as a ritual landscape comparable to Kilmartin Glen. It has considerable time-depth evidenced by the survival of a Neolithic round cairn nearby, which was reused at broadly the same time as these cairns. It is probable that the monuments here were created over many centuries, reflecting re-use and veneration of earlier foci. The position of these cairns in relation to each other and to other prehistoric monuments in the valley merits further analysis, and could improve our understanding of ritual and funerary site location and practice and the structure of prehistoric society and economy.

his 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, and the significance of these monuments to prehistoric and later societies. Buried evidence from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about the communities living here, where they came from and who they had contact with. 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 life.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

On 23 March 2012 Andrew Fulton wrote to the owners, Mr and Mrs Maclachlan, who replied confirming ownership details. Richard Heawood and John Malcolm visited the site on 9 May 2012 and then met with the owner on 11 May 2012 to discuss the significance of the site and its rescheduling. We then wrote to the owner on 27 June 2012 confirming our intention to progress this rescheduling.

RCAHMS records the site as CANMORE 22935 and 22918. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records this site as WOSASPIN 1125 and 1108.

References

Anderson, J, 1878, 'Notes on the character and contents of a large sepulchral cairn of the Bronze Age at Collessie, Fife, excavated by William Wallace, Esq., of Newton of Collessie, in August 1876 and 1877', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 12, 454-5.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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