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Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible)

Site Name Portnacroish

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Karn Vain

Canmore ID 23301

Site Number NM94NW 5

NGR NM 925 473

NGR Description Centred NM 925 473

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Lismore And Appin (Argyll And Bute)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM94NW 5 c925 473.

Portnacroish (Karn Vain) - ? Clyde group chambered cairn: Though she could not locate it on the ground, Miss Henshall states that Karn-vain, visited by Pococke in 1760, must have been near Portnachroish (NM 925 473), not far from the shore of Loch Laich. Pococke describes an entrance in the cairn's W side, leading to a chamber 2 yds by 1 1/2 yds, and thence to another of similar size. N of this was another, with 3 entrances, and possibly two more, suggesting that the chambers had been built all round and in storeys.

A S Henshall 1972; RCAHMS 1975.

There is no local information on this cairn, and it was not located.

Visited by OS (DWR) 17 November 1971.


Field Visit (May 1970)

NM c. 92 47. In the mid-18th century two travellers recorded their visits to a large cairn situated on the N side of Loch Laich opposite Castle Stalker. Writing in 1758 (‘Tour’, fol.25), Burrell referred to 'a very large circular Heap of Stones, called Cairnbane, in which are said to be several Subterraneous Apartments, the Passages leading to them, supported by large Beams of Timber in some Places, in others by large Stones, the Entrance is now closed with a Stone ... '. Two years later, however, Pococke (Tours, 95) was able to enter the cairn, and recorded that ‘on the west side of it a little way up is a very difficult entrance which leads to a cell about two yards long and one and a half broad, and this by a sort of door place to another about the same dimensions. I observed in some parts the stones on the sides are laid flat, in others edge way, and a little sloping, and large stones are laid across on the top; To the north of it is a low heap of stones, in which three mouths of entrances are very visible, and there seemed to be two more; these were probably for different Branches of the family; the large one is twelve yards long at the top and about a yard broad: It is not improbable that these Cells were buil tall round and several stories of them one over another. They are something in the style of the Picts houses but the entrance in the Cells of those were at the Bottom’. This cairn, which was probably a prehistoric chambered cairn (Henshall, ii, 361-2), is no longer visible.

RCAHMS 1975, visited May 1970.

Field Visit (2006)

NM 925 473 In the summer of 2006 a search was carried out by the Appin Historical Society for the site of this chambered cairn, clearly described by Pococke and others in the 18th century as being on the N side of Loch Laich and opposite Castle Stalker. This must be close to Portnacroish and the only plausible remains found in this area consist of a flat rubble platform about 100m W of the row of houses, just before the road turns sharply NE and up a steep hill. The elongated platform is at least 30m long from NW–SE and only its SW edge is clearly visible (for about 33m) where the ground falls away. There are no visible traces of any large slabs which

might have been part of a chamber. The ruins of a stone cottage and its outbuilding stand on the platform.

Archive: Euan W MacKie

Euan W MacKie – Appin Historical Society


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