Neolithic Chambered Cairn

Chambered Cairn & Cist, Port Donian

chambered cairn is a burial monument, usually constructed during the Neolithic, and consisting of a cairn of stones, inside which a sizeable (usually stone) chamber was constructed.  Some chambered cairns are also passage-graves.  They are found throughout Britain and Ireland, with the largest number in Scotland. Typically, the chamber is larger than a cist and will contain a larger number of interments, which are either excarnated bones or cremations. Most were situated near a settlement and served as that community’s graveyard.

In a strip of trees, overlooking the small bay of Port Donain, there is a Clyde-type chambered cairn measuring 32 m in length by 11 m in maximum breadth.  Although it has been severely robbed, the remains of a chamber and of a facade are visible at the north-east end, while those of a cist can be seen at the south-west end.  Possible kerb-stones are visible on the south-east side and at the south-west end.  The portal stones and one stone of the concave facade remain in situ, and another stone has fallen; the east portal stone has been broken in two, the stone lying in front of the portal being the upper portion.  The west portal stone still stands to a height of 1.4 m and measures 0.9 m by 0.4 m at its base.  The chamber, aligned north-east and south-west, has measured about 3.4 m by 0.9 m internally; the two slabs of the south-east side and the end-slab still survive, but the north-west side has been completely destroyed.

The small cist at the south-west end of the cairn measures about 0.6 m by 0.4 m internally and at least 0.4 m in depth.  This later, Bronze Age insertion into the cairn is composed of four slabs and is partly covered by a substantial capstone (1.35 m long by 0.9 m broad).  An unusual feature of the cist is that the slabs used for the sides vary greatly in thickness, those on the north-west and south-east sides measuring 0.4 m thick, and the other pair only 0.15 m thick.

                         Grid Reference NM 737 292