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Uisaed, cairn 330m north west of Fisherman's Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.4241 / 55°25'26"N

Longitude: -5.749 / 5°44'56"W

OS Eastings: 162868

OS Northings: 620862

OS Grid: NR628208

Mapcode National: IRL WP.ZCJK

Mapcode Global: GBR DG5C.RG1

Entry Name: Uisaed, cairn 330m NW of Fisherman's Cottage

Scheduled Date: 21 July 1975

Last Amended: 7 February 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3679

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Campbeltown

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument is a prehistoric round cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built probably between 4000 and 1000 BC. It survives as a substantial, circular turf-covered mound of stones, approximately 14m in diameter, and stands 0.8m high on top of a low knoll. The cairn is of particular interest because of its good condition and its position in the landscape. It is located at the south end of Machrihanish Bay above the shoreline and on grazing land, between 5 and 10m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1975 and rescheduled in 1993, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is a clipped circle on plan, measuring 25m in diameter centred on the cairn. 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. The scheduling specifically excludes the post-and-wire fence forming the boundary on the SW side to allow for its maintenance.

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

Overall, this round cairn appears largely intact despite some small-scale quarrying (including a square-cut scooped area in the northern arc of the cairn) and rabbit burrowing. The overall footprint of the cairn is clearly visible and much of its structure survives. There is no evidence of earlier excavation, which means it is likely still to contain one or more burials and to retain its structural form to a marked degree. Part of a probable enclosing kerb is visible around the southern perimeter. The kerb is formed from larger stones: the two largest measure up to 0.8m in length by 0.5m thick and protrude 0.4m above ground. The kerb was intended to contain the cairn material and demarcate the edge of the burial monument from the surrounding ground. The cairn was built on an elongated rocky outcrop which gives it additional prominence in the landscape (and an overall height of over 2m). The outcrop is most obvious on the cairn's west side, where it appears as a low vertical face.

The excavation of similar cairns elsewhere in Scotland has demonstrated that they were 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 cairn may incorporate or overlie one or more graves or pits containing cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, and 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 society in the area. The cairn is 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 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 the nature of agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, prehistoric burial cairns are often inter-visible and sometimes seem to be positioned specifically to maximise their visual impact. This position of this cairn is particularly interesting because it sits on a geomorphological boundary and is located directly adjacent to the mean high water spring mark. It occupies an outcrop at the southern end of a natural bay and has good views westwards towards Islay and across the North Channel. It also has framed views eastwards across the low-lying ground that separates Mull from land to the north.

Many cairns are known in Argyll, with particular clusters in South Kintyre, Mid Argyll, Lorne, and in the west and south of Islay. They are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, often demonstrating re-use and veneration of earlier foci. These ritual and 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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

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, 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 we wrote to Mr Armour of Lossit Home Farm, who manages the farm on behalf of its owner, to tell him about the rescheduling assessment. Mr Armour replied on the owner's behalf and confirmed ownership details (the site is on the land of Lossit Home Farm, which is owned by Mr McNeal who is currently based in Australia). We subsequently met Mr Armour during our fieldwork on 24 May 2012. We wrote to Mr Armour on 26 June confirming our intention to progress a rescheduling proposal.

RCAHMS records the site as CANMORE 38431. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 3023.

References

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1971, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, volume 1: Kintyre. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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