Ancient Monuments

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Tinkers' Heart, Scottish Travellers' commemorative monument 820m east of Ardno

A Scheduled Monument in Cowal, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.2327 / 56°13'57"N

Longitude: -4.9741 / 4°58'26"W

OS Eastings: 215753

OS Northings: 708437

OS Grid: NN157084

Mapcode National: GBR 03.CBK1

Mapcode Global: WH2KV.KLLT

Entry Name: Tinkers' Heart, Scottish Travellers' commemorative monument 820m E of Ardno

Scheduled Date: 30 July 2015

Last Amended: 21 October 2015

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13615

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: memorial cairn

Location: Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Cowal

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The Tinkers' Heart is a heart-shaped setting of quartz stones, which is embedded in tarmac in a former road junction now lying within a field. The Heart measures 1.75m by 1.40m, the top being aligned towards the NW. In 2015, it was defined by 25 quartz pebbles around the perimeter, with a 26th stone in the centre. Oral tradition links the site with stories of Scottish Travellers who died in the Jacobite uprising of 1745, though it appears the quartz stones were first laid out much later, potentially during the early 20th century. The Tinkers' Heart lies where the road leading NW from Lochgoilhead met the main route along the S shore of Loch Fyne; the modern road junction now lies about 60m to the E. The site lies 109m above sea level and has fine views to the W and SW over Loch Fyne towards Inveraray.

Up until 1928, the site may have been marked by a heart-shaped piece of grass in the road. When the road was resurfaced in 1928, it appears the heart shape was restored using quartz stones. Documentary evidence shows that the local authority restored the Heart in 1928 following road works. The road was in use from 1928 until 1967 and works to maintain the Heart during road repairs have been important in the site's development. A photograph taken in the 1950s suggests that there were formerly many more pebbles around the edge of the Heart, illustrating the evolution of the monument. In 1967, a new section of road was built to the east and, thereafter, the original junction, containing the site, was no longer in use as a public road. Since 1967, the site in this disused section of road has been sited within the fields of Ardno Estate. The Heart has been the location for weddings and other ceremonies over many generations: the location was first documented as the venue for a wedding in 1872. The Tinkers' Heart serves as a tangible symbol of the deep relationship between Scottish Travellers and this location at a significant route junction, and has clearly held high spiritual meaning for many Scottish Travellers through the generations.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 20m in diameter and centred on the middle of the Heart, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of the metal fence enclosing the stone setting.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the mobile lifestyle, traditions and material cultural heritage of Scottish Travellers. The site is a rare example of a permanent physical monument for Gypsy/Travellers and appears to be unique in its conception. The loss of such a unique monument would affect our ability to appreciate the contribution of the heritage of Gypsy/Travellers to Scotland. The site holds an important place in the consciousness of Gypsy/Travellers, recognised as a distinct ethnic group in Scotland.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Other Information

RCAHMS records the site using Site Number NN10NE 18. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is WoSAS Pin 66676.


Historic Scotland's Heritage Management Directorate, 'Scheduling Recommendation; Report of Handling', June 2015

Historic Scotland's Heritage Management Directorate, 'Tinkers' Heart, Consultation Analysis Report', June 2015

Historic Scotland's Heritage Management Directorate, 'Tinkers' Heart, Desk-based and Field Research Report', June 2015

National Museums of Scotland, Scottish Life Archive SLAC 13570, 1950s photograph of the Tinkers' Heart


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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