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Cairn (Period Unassigned), Cist(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Cantsmill

Classification Cairn (Period Unassigned), Cist(S) (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 32360

Site Number NO35SW 20

NGR NO 3202 5211

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Airlie
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Archaeology Notes

NO35SW 20 3202 5211.

(NO 3202 5211) Tumulus (NR).

OS 6" map, Forfarshire and Angus, 2nd ed., (1926)

Seven or eight cists and an urn have been found in this small eminence. About a year ago (c.1862) Mr Ramsay found a cist, with an urn containing ashes in it (information from Mr Ramsay, Muirhouse to OS).

This may be the feature, which Jervise (1865) locates to "on Cantsmill farm, about 200yds NE of the parish church". He calls it a hillock, known as St Medan's Knowe, or sometimes Battle Cairn; it was formerly about 300' in circumference and 6' to 7' high. In 1859, when it was being removed, an inverted cinerary urn containing ashes was found a little NE of the mound's centre. It was 15" high and 14" across the mouth. A large boulder, 6' x 7 1/2' was found in the mound 4' SW of the urn. About 4yds from the urn, there was a separate circle of earth and stones, chiefly stones; within it, at regular distances, were deposits of human and animal bones protected by 2 flat stones set up in an inverted 'V' shape. None of the deposits was more than 8" below the surface. In 1861, when excavations were continued, a cist, 5' x 2' x 2', covered by a 6' long slab, was found a little SE of the boulder. It contained nothing but black unctuous earth. The farm tenant who carried out these excavations left for Australia after the spring of 1861, so work was stopped, but it was hoped to resume at some future date. (See also NO35SW 37).

Name Book 1863; A Jervise 1865.

This is a low grass-covered mound, estimated due to its being under crop about 20.0m diameter by 1.2m high. There is no mound in the area of 200yds NE of the church.

Visited by OS (JLD) 17 September 1958.

This mutilated turf-covered mound is situated on level ground near the foot of a SE facing slope. It is 28.0m (N-S) by 22.0m, 2.2m high on the W side and 0.5m on the now almost level E side. The top has been extensively damaged and there are many stones strewn over it (? field clearance). Near the NE and SW extremities are two recumbent stone slabs. These are 1.2m by 0.9m and 1.1m by 0.8m respectively and could possibly be cist cover-stones. The mound has some stone content but there is no evidence of kerbing, so it appears to be the remains of a barrow rather than a cairn.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (TRG) 12 January 1977.

This cairn has been reduced to a rectangular mound measuring 28m by 22m and 1.5m in height. It is probably the cairn known in the 19th century either as St Medan's Knowe or Battle Cairn, in which a 'cinerary urn', a cist, and several burial-deposits were found between 1859 and 1861.

Name Book 1863; A Jervise 1865; RCAHMS 1983.


Field Visit (8 August 1942)

This site was recorded as part of the RCAHMS Emergency Survey, undertaken by Angus Graham and Vere Gordon Childe during World War 2. The project archive has been catalogued during 2013-2014 and the material, which includes notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts, plans and photographs, is now available online.

Information from RCAHMS (GF Geddes) 2 December 2014.


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