The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian



Kerbed Cairn

<b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Nearest Town:Campbeltown (7km NW)
OS Ref (GB):   NR76791550 / Sheets: 68, 69
Latitude:55° 22' 56.82" N
Longitude:   5° 31' 26.73" W

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<b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Balnabraid</b>Posted by GLADMAN


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Located a couple of miles south of Kildalloig Bay upon Kintyre's eastern flank and, incidentally, not far from New Orleans (hey check the map, it's true) the current denuded nature of this (apparently once very substantial) cairn belies a monument with a far, far more significant pedigree. In fact - seeing as its multi-faceted internal arrangements were found to feature no fewer than ELEVEN (count 'em) cists - I'd go as far as to say that, in my experience, I reckon this to be a truly unprecedented site. Sadly none of that ridiculously copious funerary detail can now be seen due to protective post excavation backfilling... one assumes upon the conclusion of the 1966 dig, the other excavations having taken place in 1910 and 1913. Sometimes it's enough to be aware what lies beneath, you know? No need to touch.

Not to mention what previously lay interned within those little stone-slabbed boxes. Yeah, the grave goods... artefacts which Bronze Age locals deemed suitably precious and noteworthy enough to accompany their loved ones (or at the very least, respected ones) into whatever afterlife loomed large in their collective consciousness at the time. According to Canmore these included "a beaker with jet disc-beads and a flint knife, three food-vessels and a cinerary urn." In addition, as if that fine assemblage of objects infused with inherently intimate human association wasn't enough, "a bronze razor, probably dating from 1400 to 1000 BC, was found on the site in 1966." Hmm. Suffice to say the prehistoric providence of this particular stone pile is not in any doubt. As is its ability to transcend millennia.

Furthermore, despite being located at little more than sea level, the placement of the monument within its landscape is excellent. Yeah, set overlooking the Balnabraid Water as it flows down Balnabraid Glen to merge with the southern approach to Kilbrannan Sound, the focus is, and no doubt was always intended to be, seaward.... a grandstand view of fresh water returning back whence it came to the saline, courtesy of the planet's natural weather cycles. With the enigmatic profile of Ailsa Craig looming upon the south-eastern horizon for good measure. It could be said that the monument's connection with the Balnabraid Water is definitive since it was erosion caused by the action of the latter that "revealed a cinerary urn in the exposed face of the cairn" in 1910. Well, there you are.

Whether the visitor approaches the site from the north or south a fine aerial view will be obtained from the coastal road as it descends to Corphin Bridge. Parking is available at roadside, a field gate allowing access to the cairn.

Although apparently a shadow of its former self... the funerary cairn at Balnabraid nevertheless casts a long shadow indeed.
17th August 2015ce
Edited 18th August 2015ce