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Tinker's Heart

Commemorative Monument (Post Medieval)

Site Name Tinker's Heart

Classification Commemorative Monument (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Gypsy's Heart; Gypsy's Wedding Heart; Gypsies' Heart

Canmore ID 320140

Site Number NN10NE 18

NGR NN 15752 08442

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Lochgoilhead And Kilmorich
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll


Field Visit (29 June 2012)

The Tinkers' Heart is a heart-shaped setting of stones embedded in the tarmac of what was formerly a junction of the A815 and B839 roads; the roads have been realigned and moved to the E, leaving the heart within a pasture field. The site, on a broad terrace above the E shore of Loch Fyne, affords a wide prospect, looking NW to Dunderave Castle on the opposite shore, and W towards Inveraray.

The heart measures 1.75m by 1.4m, the top towards the NW; it has been picked out with quartz pebbles, twenty-five of which are visible around the edge, with a twenty-sixth in the centre. A photograph taken in the mid-20th century (National Museums of Scotland, Scottish Life Archive SLAC 13570) suggests there were formerly many more pebbles around the edge, but it is not known whether the missing stones have been removed or have simply become more deeply embedded and hidden in the tarmac. In recent times the heart has been enclosed by a chain fence hung from three metal posts, but the chain has been replaced by a strand of barbed wire.

The origins of this feature are unclear. There is a tradition within the travelling community that it was constructed as a memorial to local tinkers who joined the Jacobite Rising of 1745 (pers. comm. Jess Smith). If this tradition is correct, the site may be unique as the only physical monument to the tinker community in the Highlands. By the mid-19th century weddings were being celebrated at the site. In 1928 the heart was removed during roadworks, but was reinstated following local protests. The site is still visited, and coins continue to be placed next to the central stone.

Visited by RCAHMS (SDB), 29 June 2012.

Measured Survey (15 November 2012)

RCAHMS surveyed Tinker’s Heart on 15 November 2012, producing a ground plan and site plan at a scale of 1:10 and 1:500 respectively. A GPS survey was also undertaken.

Desk Based Assessment (May 2013)

NN 15752 08442 (Canmore ID: 320140) Following a review of the current record for Tinker’s Heart by Archaeology Scotland, a desk-based assessment was carried out, 1–31 May 2013, on the evidence of Gypsy Travellers in Scotland. The study identified 26 sites associated with Gypsy Travellers in Scotland, which were categorised as follows: six sites of

etymological origins; six camp sites; one settlement; four Wish Trees or Rag Wells; two commemorative monuments; and one historical residence. The study also identified 32 currently registered Gypsy Traveller sites across Scotland.

Archive and report: HES (intended)

Funder: HLF and HES

Ian Hill – Heritage and Archaeological Research Practice Ltd (HARP)

(Source: DES, Volume 17)


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