Scheduled Monument

Ledaig House, cairn 20m SE ofSM3706

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
13/08/1975
Last Date Amended
07/02/2013
Type
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
Parish
Ardchattan And Muckairn
NGR
NM 90583 37349
Coordinates
190583, 737349

Description

The monument is a cairn of the Neolithic or Bronze Age, built some time between 4000 and 1000 BC. It is visible as a grass-grown mound measuring 18.3m NE-SW by 14.6m transversely and stands over 1m high. The mound is roughly circular, although it has been truncated on its NW and SW edges by later developments. Large boulders are evident in places just beneath the turf and at the edges of the cairn. The cairn stands at around 10m above sea level within a private garden. The monument was first scheduled in 1975, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan. It extends up to but does not include the public road (the A828) along the SW edge, and is delimited by the garden boundaries along the NW and SE sides. On the NE side, the scheduled area extends 2m beyond the visible remains of 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 excludes the above-ground elements of the hydro-electricity pole and the post-and-wire fences to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The excavation of similar mounds elsewhere in Scotland has demonstrated that round cairns were often used to cover and mark human burials and are late Neolithic or Bronze Age in origin, dating most commonly from the late third millennium BC to the early second millennium BC. Burial cairns of this date may incorporate or overlie several graves or pits containing cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, pottery and stone tools.

The northern and western edges of the cairn have been truncated by the construction of the public road (the A828) and the driveway to Ledaig House (formerly the Old Schoolhouse). However, a substantial portion of the monument survives intact and in good condition, suggesting that further archaeological information is highly likely to survive beneath its surface. An urn containing cremated human remains and flint arrowheads was found in about 1835 during construction of the public road, but as the main body of the cairn has not been excavated, it is possible that one or more burials may survive within the mound.

Other cairns that have been excavated in this part of Argyll have produced jet jewellery and other objects as part of the funerary assemblage, and it is possible that similar grave goods may survive within this cairn. Such finds have the potential to inform us about trade and contacts in prehistory, as well as beliefs surrounding death and burial. 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.

In addition, the cairn is likely to overlie and seal a buried land surface that could provide evidence of the environment when the monument was constructed. Botanical remains, including pollen or charred plant material, may survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us build up a picture of climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn. The monument also has excellent potential to add to our understanding of the form, construction and development sequence of burial cairns in Argyll and further afield.

Contextual characteristics

Across Scotland, cairns are often inter-visible and sometimes seem to be positioned specifically to maximise their visual impact. The cairn lies on a plateau close to the coast; at the time of its construction and use, it would have had views across the Moss of Achnacree to the south and east and across Ardmucknish Bay to the west. The distributions of chambered cairns and other types of cairn appear broadly similar, the known examples clustering on relatively low ground in valleys or close to the coast and on the edges of higher ground. The distribution partly reflects the activities of researchers, but some concentrations of cairns appear to lie on better land and close to important route ways, as in this case.

Argyll cairns are often components of a ritual landscape created over many centuries, often demonstrating re-use and veneration of earlier foci. Clusters of cairns may point to areas of the landscape where power and wealth was concentrated, perhaps generated in part through control of trade and exchange. Cairns have additional importance as the most prominent remains of early historic societies, whose domestic houses, farms and field systems have often proved difficult to identify in the archaeological record.

There is a large number of burial cairns in the North Connel area, in particular just south-east of this monument on the Moss of Achnacree. A cluster of cairns occurs some 1.7km to the ESE, for example, including a substantial and very well preserved chambered cairn at Carn Ban. This area seems to have been particularly significant during prehistory as a place of burial and associated with ritual and funerary practices. The position and significance of this cairn in relation to other prehistoric monuments may be significant and merits further analysis. Comparison of the cairn with nearby monuments could further our understanding of ritual and funerary site location and practice and enhance our understanding of the structure of early prehistoric society and economy.

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 burial practices, and their significance in prehistoric and later society. Buried evidence from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is particularly valuable because it lies in a landscape where there is a variety of prehistoric monuments, including standing stones and other cairns. 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.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NM93NW 5. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is 1419.

References

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1988, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, vol 2: Lorn, p. 54, no. 60. Edinburgh.

Ritchie, G (ed), 1997 The Archaeology of Argyll. Edinburgh.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 14/11/2018 08:44