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 Prehistoric Sites in

SCOTLAND

by Martin J. Powell

Page 1 of 2

There are many hundreds of prehistoric monuments scattered around the Scottish mainland and its many islands. The following gallery features a selection of sites which are located in the South-western region of the country.

 

Click on a thumbnail to see a full-size picture (all pictures will open in a new window). The Ordnance Survey Map links (O.S Map) point to the 1:25,000 scale map of the region (equivalent to the O. S. Pathfinder Series of printed maps), as displayed at Streetmap.co.uk.

 

 

Kintraw standing stone and cairn, Argyll, looking North-east towards Dun an Dubh-challa (Photo: June 1990)

Kintraw standing stone and cairn, looking South-west towards Loch Craignish (Photo: June 1990)

Kintraw

Standing Stone & Cairn

 

County: Argyll (Strathclyde)

Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: NM 830 050

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Situated at the Northern end of Loch Craignish, the standing stone at Kintraw is 13 ft (4 m) tall and has been re-erected in recent times, assisted by a concrete base. The cairn beside it is 47 ft (14.5 m) in diameter. There is also a ruinous stone circle next to the stone (partly visible in the foreground).

 

The noted archaeo-astronomer Prof. Alexander Thom proposed that the line across the cairn, standing stone and circle were intended to mark the midwinter setting sun over the Paps of Jura, some 27 miles (43 km) distant. However, for this alignment to work the observer would need to have stood on a 'platform', identified by Thom, in a very steep gorge to the North-west of the monument, which is very difficult to access.

 

Cairnholy I chambered cairn, Wigtown (Photo: June 1990)

Cairnholy I

Chambered Cairn

 

County: Wigtownshire (Dumfries & Galloway)

O.S. Grid Ref: NX 518 539

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Satellite Photo (Google Maps)

Two miles (3.1 km) South-east of Carsluith are two chambered tombs of the Clyde type. The chamber is in two sections and is approached through a horned forecourt of six tall stones, facing Eastwards. The covering cairn has disappeared but originally was trapezoidal in shape, measuring 164 ft (50 m) long by 49 ft (15 m) wide.

 

Excavation revealed cremated human remains, pottery and flint arrowheads. Fires had apparently been burned in the forecourt during the tomb's period of use.

 

 

 

Cairnholy II chambered cairn, Wigtown (Photo: June 1990)

Cairnholy II

Chambered Cairn

 

County: Wigtownshire (Dumfries & Galloway)

O.S. Grid Ref: NX 518 540

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Cairnholy II lies some 492 ft (150 m) to the North of Cairnholy I. The chamber at Cairnholy II is also in two sections, but unlike its neighbour, it has no forecourt facade. The portal stone at the North-west is peculiarly tapered, and is 10 ft (3 m) tall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fowlis Wester Eastern cairn-circle, Perthshire (Photo: June 1990)

Fowlis Wester East

Cairn-Circle

 

County: Perthshire (Tayside)

O.S. Grid Ref: NN 923 249

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Technically referred to as a kerb-cairn, this circle is 19 ft (6 m) in diameter.  Excavation showed that it covered cremation burials and that a circle of small stones originally surrounded the cairn. A stone on the South-south-west of the cairn has three hand-carved, circular depressions known as cup-marks. A 6 ft (1.8 m) high stone stands 31 ft (9.5 m) away to the North-north-east (right of picture).

 

The cairn is elliptical in plan; Alexander Thom suggested that its axis was intentionally orientated towards the most Northerly Moonrise position over distant hills.

 

Cauldside Burn spiral rock carving, Kirkcudbrightshire (Photo: June 1990)

Cauldside Burn

Rock Carving

 

County: Kirkcudbrightshire (Dumfries & Galloway)

O.S. Grid Ref: NX 528 574

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Located on Cambret Moor, some 3.3 miles (5.4 km) ESE of Creetown, this rectangular block of whinstone is carved with a spiral which measures 2 ft (0.6 m) across and has six convolutions.

 

The stone forms an approximate alignment along ca. 160 degrees with a large cairn and the Cauldside Burn stone circle, some 1180 ft (360 m) away across the stream (NX 529 571). The alignment was possibly intended to indicate the winter solstice sunrise.

 

 

 

Ballymeanoch stone row, Mid Argyll (Photo: June 1990)

Ballymeanoch

Stone Row

 

County: Argyll (Strathclyde)

O.S. Grid Ref: NR 834 964

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

This alignment of four stones, one mile (1.6 km) South-east of Slockavullin, extends 49 ft (15 m) and is aligned NW-SE. The two tallest stones are 13 ft (4 m) and 12 ft (3.6 m) high. One of the slabs (centre of picture) has at least 50 cup-marks - eleven of them surrounded by rings - on its Western side.

 

Alexander Thom suggested that the row was aligned towards the midwinter sunrise to the South-east, and in the opposite direction towards the most Northerly setting position of the Moon.

 

Some 140 ft (42 m) to the South-west of the main row are a further two monoliths, 8 ft (2.4 m) and 10 ft (3 m) tall. Thom proposed that they indicated the most Southerly rising position of the Moon towards the South-east.

Barrnakill Hands rock carvings, Argyll (Photo: June 1990)

Barrnakill Hands

Rock Carving

 

County: Argyll (Strathclyde)

O.S. Grid Ref: NR 822 915

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

1:25,000 Map (O.S. map excerpt)

Two left hand-prints are carved on a slab within woodland at Barrnakill Farm near the village of Cairnbaan. The carvings seem to be in the Boyne (Eastern Ireland) style, i.e. of Neolithic date. They are relatively deep and remarkably well preserved.

 

A close-up of the hands can be seen here.

 

 

 

 

 

Ballochroy stone row, Kintyre (Photo: June 1990)

Ballochroy

Stone Row & Cist

 

County: Argyll (Strathclyde)

O.S. Grid Ref: NR 730 524

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Situated on the picturesque Kintyre peninsula, the three menhirs at Ballochroy are aligned NE-SW and measure (from left to right in picture) 12 ft (3.6 m), 11 ft (3.3 m) and 6 ft (1.8 m) in height. A cist (a small, box-like chamber) is located about 121 ft (37 m) to the South-west of the row, in line with the stones.

 

Alexander Thom believed the alignment to the South-west indicated the setting sun at the winter solstice. Looking along the flat face of the central slab of the alignment towards the North-west, the midsummer sun is seen to set behind the Paps of Jura, some 19 miles (30 km) distant.

 

The photograph was taken on midsummer's eve, looking across to the Paps of Jura.

 

Ri Cruin cairn, Mid Argyll (Photo: June 1990)

Ri Cruin

Cist & Cairn

 

County: Argyll (Strathclyde)

O.S. Grid Ref: NR 825 971

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

This cairn lies in a wood clearing near Slockavullin and is 65 ft (20 m) in diameter. The cairn covers three cists, one of which was found to contain a cremation. The southern cist has seven axe carvings on its western slab, and is orientated ca. 100-280 degrees.

 

The cairn is one of several prehistoric sites which form an alignment over 1.8 miles (3 km) of the Kilmartin Valley.

 

 

 

Dunchraigaig cairn, Mid Argyll (Photo: June 1990)

Dunchraigaig

Cist & Cairn

 

County: Argyll (Strathclyde)

O.S. Grid Ref: NR 833 968

O.S. Map (Streetmap)

Three cists are contained within a massive cairn over 98 ft (30 m) in diameter and still standing to a height of 6 ft (2 m). The southern cist is orientated ca. 035-215 degrees and is covered by a capstone measuring 13 ft (4 m) long.

 

All three chambers were found to contain burials by cremation and inhumation.

Copyright  Martin J Powell  2002-10

Prehistoric Sites in Scotland (Page 2) >>

The Ancient

Monuments

Map of Scotland

Loren Cruden,

Rob Burns

& Rhoda Burns

 Before

Scotland:

The Story of

Scotland Before

History

Alistair Moffat

 Mysterious

Scotland

Michael Balfour

 Neolithic and

Bronze Age

Scotland

P. J. Ashmore

The

Archaeology

of Argyll

Graham Ritchie (Ed)

A Simple

Introduction

to the

Stone Circles and

Standing Stones

of Perthshire

David Watson

The Prehistoric

Rock Art of

Kilmartin

Stan Beckensall

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