Scheduled Monument

McCole's Castle, chambered cairnSM467

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn
Local Authority
ND 31609 43366
331609, 943366


The monument comprises the remains of a chambered cairn, a ritual and funerary monument dating from the Neolithic period (c. 4000-2000BC). The cairn was originally scheduled in 1934, but an inadequate area was included for its protection; the current scheduling rectifies this.

The cairn lies at about 115m OD on a ridge on the N slope of a hill, commanding extensive views over the surrounding countryside to the N. It is roughly circular in shape, measuring approximately 20m in diameter and standing up to 2m high. The body of the cairn was disturbed during the 19th century by antiquarian excavations, and the construction of an illicit still. These disturbances have revealed a linear burial chamber and entrance passage aligned WSW-ENE. The central chamber measures approximately 4.5m by 1.5m, and is subdivided into 3 compartments by pairs of divisional stones. At the time of excavation, the walls of the chamber were recorded as standing 2.75m high. The entrance passage runs off the chamber to the W and is also approximately 4.5m long by 0.75-1m wide. The chamber and entrance passage are currently filled with rubble, but large stones protruding through the body of the cairn indicate their position on the surface.

The area to be scheduled is circular, with a diameter of 40m, centred on the cairn, to include the remains described above, and an area around where evidence relating to the construction and use of the cairn may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the attached map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved example of a chambered cairn. It has the potential, through excavation and analysis, to provide information on Neolithic ritual and funerary practices, and contemporary material cultural and agricultural economy. The area around Loch of Yarrows is notable for its concentration of prehistoric ritual sites. There are 5 chambered cairns in the vicinity of the loch, plus smaller round cairns, standing stones and stone rows. McCole's Castle is of particular interest within this group, as its circular design contrasts with the linear plan of the other chambered cairns in the vicinity.



The monument is RCAHMS number ND 34 SW 40.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

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

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 20/04/2024 06:06