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Cairn(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Claggan

Classification Cairn(S) (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 22436

Site Number NM64NE 7

NGR NM 6979 4930

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Morvern
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM64NE 7 6979 4930

(NM 6979 4930) Old Grave Yard (NAT)

OS 6" map, Argyllshire, 2nd ed., (1900)

Not a graveyard but a cairn situated on the flood plain of the River Aline. It measure c. 10.0m in diameter and survives to c. 0.5m high, but is overlaid by clearance. In the SW arc are four contiguous kerb stones, 0.8m high, and to the SE of centre is an upright slab, oriented NW-SE, and measuring 0.7m high and 0.8m long.

Despite the fact that this is clearly a prehistoric burial cairn, there is a tradition locally that there have been burials here within the last 150 years.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (NKB), 15 June 1970.

(NM 6977 4930) Cairn (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

This group of three kerb-cairns was excavated by the RCAHMS in 1973 and 1974.

The best-preserved cairn (1 on plan, q.v.), measures 5m in diameter and still retains the majority of its twenty kerb-stones. At the centre an irregular ring of boulders enclosed a deposit of cremated bones and charcoal; between the ring and the kerb there was a lay of gravel, up to 0.2m in thickness, and these features were subsequently covered by stones. A radio-carbon date of 975 bc +/- 50 was obtained from analysis of the charcoal associated with the cremation deposit.

Cairn 2, which abuts the first one on the SW, measures about 5.25m in diameter and before excavation stood to a height of about 0.5m. The kerb-stones and the cairn material had been considerably disturbed, and no trace was found of any burial deposit. The original ground surface beneath the cairn had been subjected to burning and two radio-carbon dates of 462 bc +/- 55 and 586 bc +/- 80 were obtained from this layer. Cairn 3, situated on the N side of the other two, had been severely robbed, but sufficient survived to show that it has measured about 2m in diameter. A grave-pit had been dug into the natural gravel at the centre of the cairn adn this was found to contain a deposit of cremated bones and charcoal; analysis of the charcoal provided a radio-carbon date of 1058 bc +/- 40.

Apart from a number of unworked spalls of flint, the only finds were a small flint flake from cairn 1 and a tiny blade fragment from cairn 2. They were donated to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

J N G Ritchie and I Thornber 1977; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1977; RCAHMS 1980, visited 1974.


Excavation (26 November 2012 - 6 December 2012)

NM 67793 50808 A desk-based assessment, walkover survey, geophysical survey and excavation of the Loch Arienas kerb cairn and environs were undertaken, 26 November – 6 December 2012. Kerb cairns at Claggan (NM64NE 7) and Acharn (NM75SW 2) are c3.5km to the SE of the site. The work aimed to enhance management of the cultural heritage resource in the Morvern forest block and answer research questions relating to the kerb cairn site.

The desk-based assessment indicated that the known sites in the area are dominated by post-medieval remains, including the cleared Allt An Aoinidh Mhor township (NM65SE 1). This pattern was confirmed by the walkover survey, which located the majority of known sites and recorded 19 new sites, including additional post-medieval structural remains and boundaries, and an Iron Age dun (NM 69019 47695).

Results of the geophysical survey (earth resistance and magnetometer) undertaken in the area around the kerb cairn indicated several potential archaeological anomalies; however, four test pits demonstrated that these were derived from the natural geology. The sub-circular kerb cairn, situated in a small area of ancient woodland, consisted of an outer wall (2.6m in diameter) built from irregular granulite blocks with a narrow 0.47m wide entrance to the SE. Two shallow internal pits were sterile apart from occasional wood charcoal. Root disturbance was apparent throughout. Externally, a layer of rubble containing worked quartz continued below the cairn wall. The monument was not associated with cremation burials or pyres (typical of kerb cairns) and does not appear to have been associated with funerary practices. Typologically, and due to the presence of worked quartz, the kerb cairn is likely to be Bronze Age in date. However, there is a possibility it could be post-medieval and relate to woodland management practices.

Archive: ORCA

Funder: Forestry Commission Scotland

Daniel Lee, ORCA and Matt Ritchie, Forestry Commission Scotland, 2013

(Source: DES)


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