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Kilmore, cairns and enclosure 345m NNE of Cleigh House

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

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Latitude: 56.3791 / 56°22'44"N

Longitude: -5.4334 / 5°26'0"W

OS Eastings: 188106

OS Northings: 726053

OS Grid: NM881260

Mapcode National: GBR DCYV.RZ0

Mapcode Global: WH0GL.HXWK

Entry Name: Kilmore, cairns and enclosure 345m NNE of Cleigh House

Scheduled Date: 4 March 1977

Last Amended: 31 May 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3967

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: enclosure (ritual or funerary)

Location: Kilmore and Kilbride

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises two cairns and a circular earthwork, all dating from the Neolithic or Bronze Age (some time between 4000 and 1000 BC). The cairns are visible as turf-covered stony mounds. The larger cairn measures about 32m in diameter and stands 1.8m high. Two stone slabs visible towards the centre may be the sides of a cist. The second cairn lies about 10m to the NW and is much smaller, measuring 8.5m in diameter and 0.6m high. The circular earthwork lies 15m S of the larger cairn. It takes the form of a low bank about 5m wide and 0.3m high with traces of an internal ditch, which encloses a near-circular area 21m in diameter. It is probably a ritual monument known as a henge. The site lies about 15m above sea level, on flat land in a valley floor location, between Loch Nell 0.5km to the N and Loch Feochan, a sea loch 2km to the SW. The larger cairn and the earthwork were first scheduled in 1977, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this and incorporates all three monuments (including the smaller cairn).

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, including 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

The excavation of similar cairns elsewhere in Scotland has demonstrated that they were often used to cover and mark human burials. They are normally late Neolithic or Bronze Age in origin, dating most commonly from the late third millennium BC to the early second millennium BC. The larger of the two cairns here should be regarded as a large example of its type in a national context, though its size may have been increased a little by the dumping of cairn material around the perimeter when the central area was investigated in the 19th century. This investigation appears to have occurred in two stages: first, a central cist was opened and an urn and cremation were discovered; secondly, in 1872, a bronze dagger blade was found in an undisturbed corner of the cist. Despite this activity, the cairn retains good potential to cover important archaeological remains. The adjacent cairn to the NW is smaller in size but may be a second prehistoric burial monument, particularly because of its proximity to the known burial cairn.

The form of the earthwork enclosure to the S indicates that the third feature here has high potential to be a henge, an early prehistoric ritual enclosure. Although there are traces of a depression outside the bank, there is clearly also a shallow ditch on the inside and there are suggestions of opposed entrances to the N and S. The inner ditch is characteristic of henge monuments, which researchers suggest were built between about 3000 and 2000 BC, to screen from view a ceremonial site that might be dangerous or for the eyes of a select few only. Henges frequently contain evidence of a variety of internal features, including timber or stone circles, pits or burials, which may pre- or post-date the henge enclosure, so future excavation here has significant potential to enrich understanding of this site.

Researchers know from other examples that cairns frequently incorporate or overlie several graves or pits, and it is common for additional burials to survive antiquarian investigations. As well as cremations or inhumations, graves often contain artefacts, including 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 early society in the area. Botanical remains, including pollen and charred plant material, may also survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us build up a picture of the climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn; it also has potential to shed light on the plants that were used in burial rituals.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, prehistoric burial cairns often appear to have been sited with reference to other cairns and are often inter-visible. This monument lies within a remarkable concentration of at least 10 cairns scattered along the valley floor between foot of Loch Nell and the head of Loch Feochan some 3km to the SW. These include three cairns only 200m to the N, one with a large cist or small chamber exposed; the Dalineun chambered cairn about 500m to the N; and a cluster of three cairns, including the 'Serpent Mound', about 800m to the N. This large group of ritual and funerary structures provides an important context in which to study the probable henge that forms part of this monument. 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 is probable that the monuments here were created over many centuries, reflecting the re-use and veneration of earlier foci. Henges are typically found on low-lying ground, often close to watercourses and better agricultural land and sometimes formed part of a ritual complex with other Neolithic or Bronze Age monuments. The nature of this monument in relation 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.

Associative Characteristics

The larger cairn is depicted on the OS first edition map and the site is labelled 'Cist'.

National Importance

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 early prehistoric ritual practices, and the significance of these monuments to prehistoric and later societies. Buried evidence from cairns and henges can significantly enhance our knowledge about prehistoric communities, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is an important element of one of the densest clusters of burial cairns in Scotland. The loss of the monument would 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




The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1975, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 2: Lorn, p. 53, nos. 57(6) and (7). Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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