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Islay, Ballynaughton

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Islay, Ballynaughton

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 37532

Site Number NR34NE 10

NGR NR 3907 4646

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kildalton And Oa
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR34NE 10 3907 4646.

(NR 3908 4646) (information from RCAHMS).

The remains of a Clyde group long cairn lie in rough grazing at nearly 100ft OD, not far from the ruins of Ballynaughton More. Little cairn material remains. All round the north west side of the now turf covered cairn no edge can be detected, but the area of the cairn is level so that on the lower south east side there is a drop of two or three feet to the natural slope of the hill. This drop presumably represents roughly the original edge of the cairn and suggests that it was trapezoidal, at least 50ft long on the main axis of the chamber, about 46ft across the north east end, and about 28ft across 50ft to the south west. Cairn material seems to stretch 7ft or so in front of the chamber entrance, in the north east.

There appear to have been two rather widely set portal stones, leading to a chamber of 4 compartments excavated by Bryce (1902), who notes

that the compartments were filled with stones and soil. In the third one, he found a hoard of 72 groats and 2 half groats, dating from the mid 15th to the mid 16th century. He inferred that the chamber was already ruined and roofless when the coins were hidden. Also found were a flint flake and a minute fragment of bone.

T H Bryce 1902; F Celoria 1959; A S Henshall 1972, visited 1962.

The remains of a chambered cairn as described above.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (BS) 20 June 1978.

This cairn is situated 300m w of the ruins of Ballynaughton More on a relatively narrow strip of almost level rough

grazing bounded by arable Fields to the SE and by a rocky ridge to the NW. Only a little cairn material remains, now

almost completely overgrown, but as shown on the plan it appears to extend intermittently over an area measuring

about 20m from NE to sw by a maximum of 10m transversely; whatever its precise size may originally have

been, it seems likely that the cairn was trapezoidal in shape, with a breadth of not more than 16m at the broader (NE) end and a length of at least 20 m.

Entered from the NE, the roofless chamber is about 6m long and up to l-5m wide internally, and is divided by

transverse septal slabs into four compartments. Immediately N of the entrance there is a pointed stone, I m high above

ground level, which may be one of a pair of portal stones; what appears to be its fallen partner would, if erect, occupy a corresponding position at the s side of the entrance. Most of the slabs forming the chamber are massive blocks, now-

exposed up to 0-9 m above ground: during excavations carried out in 1901 ' it was found that the surviving side-slabs

of the two outermost compartments were standing to a Ileight of as much as 1 -42 m above the floor. Although at least

two side-slabs are missing, it can be seen that the chamber decreases in width towards the rear. from a maximum of

about l-5m to 0-6 m at the back of the innermost compartment. Likewise the compartments contract both in

length and height, and the innermost is evidently a less substantial structure than the others, only the tops of its

stones being at present visible at turf level. The septal stones rise almost to the same height as the side-slabs they support and the disposition of the side-slabs shows the successive overlapping (or imbrication) characteristic of chambered cairns of Clyde type.

The chamber contains a layer of debris about 0.6m deep, but when emptied in 1901 it was filled with stones and soil from which were recovered a chert flake and one tiny fragment of burnt bone; the discovery of a hoard of coins, dating from the mid-15th to mid-16th centuries AD, which lay hidden in the E corner of the third compartment, suggested to the excavator that the chamber had already been disturbed and rifled by the time the hoard was deposited. All the finds are lost.

RCAHMS 1984.


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