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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016257

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


On the south-east slopes of North Muir is a remarkable collection of nine or so round burial cairns, clustered at around the 280m contour. The Nether Cairn, over 15m in diameter and 3.7m high, is one of the best-preserved, reasonably accessible, round cairns in the area. About 1m beyond the present base are slight indications of a surrounding ditch about 1.8m wide. The Upper Cairn (NT 110509), by contrast, some 730m north-east, is even larger-over 20m across and 4.2m high. Now considerably overgrown, there is no trace of a surrounding ditch, whilst hollows on the east, north and west sides suggest that it has been robbed for its stone. Of the other cairns, one sited 400m north-east of the Upper Cairn still stands about 1m high and over 9m across.

This chain oflarge, round, prehistoric burial cairns in the Dolphinton-West Linton area (there are other, more elevated examples on such Pentland summits as East Cairn Hill, NT 121595; West Cairn Hill, NT 107584; Carnethy Hill, NT 203619) seems to mark an important prehistoric route linking the upper Clyde valley with the Forth estuary. It would have left the Clyde at its junction with the Medwin Water, skirted the south-west of the Pentlands and then followed their south-east flanks before cutting across to the River North Esk-where similar cairns existed near Roslin and Rosewell.

A small, sandstone standing stone, the Gowk Stane (NT 204576), stands just east of Auchencorth Farm on the east bank of the river; it is also on a direct link between the respective groups of round cairns. Moreover, the ruinous remains of an earlier neolithic long cairn-within an equally ruinous plantation dyke-survive as a low ragged mound, nearly 58m by 14m by under 1m high on Harlaw Muir (NT 179546), half way between West Linton and the Gowk Stane and 90m west of the by-road, evidence perhaps of the even greater antiquity of such a through-route.

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).

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