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Islay, Druim Nam Madagan

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Islay, Druim Nam Madagan

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 37559

Site Number NR34NE 35

NGR NR 3825 4595

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 35 3825 4595.

(Classified as Standing Stone and location cited as NR 383 459) A standing stone, 1.83m by 0.91m by 0.30m is situated on the first big ridge north Tigh an Arbhair. Beside it is a building, apsed on north, straight on south, measuring 5.49m by 3.65m internally, probably an early croft. Its walls incorporate large slabs.

I D Shanks 1976.

NR 3826 4595 A standing stone leaning at an angle of 45 degrees to the east and as described above.

There are remains of a rectangular structure 7m by 4.5m just to the south and althought constructed of large stone blocks it does not appear to be any great age.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (BS) 5 June 1978.

This stone is situated on gently rising ground close to a ruined stone building about 75m SE of the deserted farm of

Torradale. It measures 1.0m by 0.2m at its base and rises 2.0m to a pointed top: its longer axis is aligned NNW and SSE and it now leans considerably to the ENE.


(Classification amended to Chambered Cairn). The standing stone on Druim Nam Madagan (RCAHMS 1984, 67, no. 95) is probably an orthostat belonging to the façade of a chambered cairn. In addition to this orthostat, at least four stones of the chamber remain in place, but the cairn itself has been largely removed. Nevertheless, it probably measured about 27m from NE to SW by 16m transversely, standing on a gentle SW-facing slope between the public road and a low knoll to the E. The SW end of the cairn has been reduced to a stony platform bounded by a boulder-studded scarp some 0.5m high, while the NW side is marked by a low bank of rubble that hooks round outside the one surviving orthostat. The rest of the cairn has been entirely removed and the eastern sector has also been under cultivation, though a triangular block of stone some 0.9m in length by 0.4m in height on the SE is perhaps a surviving kerbstone. The chamber, which has been incorporated into the NW wall of a later rectangular building, is symmetrically placed on the axis of the cairn, and probably opened off a concave forecourt at the NE end. It measures at least 4.6m in length by 1.8m in breadth, and has probably contained two compartments, each formed by a pair of long side-slabs. Only one of each pair of slabs now survives, and the remains of the chamber comprise: a transverse slab at its NE end; a long slab on the SE side of the NE compartment; a possible septal slab separating the two compartments; another long slab on the NW side of the SW compartment; and a smaller transverse slab at the SW end. The transverse slab at the NE end, which has been reused as the NE side of the entrance into the building, measures 1.55m in length by 0.25m in thickness and 0.4m in height. The eastern side-slab, which has been incorporated into the inner wall-face of the building, its end forming the inner jamb on the other side of the entrance, measures 2m in length by 0.25m in thickness and 0.6m in height. The western side-slab measures 1.6m by 0.2m and 0.7m in height and forms an angle with the small end-slab at the W corner of the chamber. The latter stands 0.9m high and measures no more than 0.75m by 0.3m at ground level. The alignments of the side-slabs suggest that they probably overlapped the ends of their neighbours at the junction between the two compartments.

The later building measures 5.1m from NE to SW by 3.3m internally. Its grass-grown stone footings are 0.8m in thickness by about 0.5m in height internally and up to 1m externally. There are opposed entrances towards the NE end of the interior, that on the NW framed by the slabs of the earlier chamber and measuring about 0.9m in width. At the SW end the footings appear to overlie an earlier building, which projects a further 3.7m to the SW and forms a raised platform some 0.7m in height.

The successive construction of these two buildings evidently took place after the cairn had been robbed and its eastern side taken into cultivation. A field-bank that approaches from the SE, however, stops just short of the possible kerbstone on this side, and probably indicates that it originally abutted the edge of the unrobbed mound. Thus, the construction of this field-bank, the construction of the buildings, and the cultivation of the east side of the cairn, probably represent separate episodes of activity before and after the robbing of the cairn.

Visited by RCAHMS (SPH,SDB) 20 April 2006


Geophysical Survey (April 2019)

NR 3825 4595 In April 2019, detailed topographic and electrical resistance surveys were carried out on the site of a probable SW-NE orientated Neolithic chambered cairn (NR34NE 35).

The kerb of the cairn survives at the south end, whilst the extensive robbing has occurred elsewhere with some of the larger stones visible in the dykes at the either side of the adjacent track. Previous work identified two later buildings constructed over the remains of the cairn. The survey identified remains of a probable third building set against the remaining standing façade stone at the north end of the cairn.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Islay Heritage

Darko Maričević - Islay Heritage and University of Reading

(Source: DES Vol 20)


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