Although a futile exercise, of course, just imagine if this massive, chambered cairn hadn't been wilfully vandalised.... my mistake... 'excavated' by Angus Smith in 1871. Perhaps Argyll would still possess something to rival some of Ireland's great, virgin cairns? Then again perhaps we would now have a concrete dome a third of the size preserving and 'protecting' the chamber, but changing the whole character of the monument? Hmm...there is no cut and dried answer, is there? And of course it is unrealistic to be too hard on Mr Smith, since his contemporaries would probably have seen nothing untoward in his actions. It was the self-righteous Victorian Age, after all.
Of the centrally placed chamber, only a gaping crater remains, whilst two obvious orthostats still remain in situ from what would appear to have been a facade/forecourt to the south-east. So, not much surviving detail, then.
But, come on, the great, round cairn is still some 4m tall. Which is mightily impressive in anyone's language, particularly mine, Achnacree being possibly the tallest such monument I've seen outside of the aforementioned Emerald Isle? Foliage borders, but does not encroach upon the cairn proper, leading to an excellent, 'cool vibe' on this sunny afternoon. Although, come to think of it, the pretty strong breeze probably has something to do with the 'cool' bit. The trees also screen the site from the houses across the road, handy in that they avoid a 'Memsie' situation.
So, not a great deal to report, but well worth a visit. Particularly if you've got a thing about large, round cairns. Oh, but what could have been!
Heading north across the Connell Bridge on the A823, pass the airport and caravan park on your left before taking the immediate next right turn.
Follow this unfeasibly straight road past Dalvuie (on your left) and the cairn will soon be obvious on the right. It would appear parking is not an issue before the houses opposite.
There's not much to see here. An impressive cairn with a hollowed out centre and a few enigmatic stones in the SE.
It is, sadly, all that remains of a major passage grave excavated in 1871. An 8m passage from the SE led to a 6m chamber in the centre of the 26m diameter cairn. None of the passage/chamber is now visible apart from a few stones around the passage entrance.
It is, I believe, the most southerly example of the Hebridean style of chambered cairn.
On a single track road but with parking room at the site.
It was a weird thing entering that cairn that had been so long closed, and it was a cheerful thing to come out and see the people that had gathered, even from this lone district, as soon as they heard that there was really a building and chambers found in the cairn.
It was curious, also, to listen to the superstitions that came out. One woman who lived here, and might therefore be considered an authority, said that she used to see lights upon it in the dark nights. That you may explain as you please; distances are not easily judged of in the dark. One man, who also lived near, and who certainly was intelligent, said he would not enter for the whole estate of Lochnell.
We have often inquired the name of the cairn. The cairn really has had no definite name. Some people have called it Carn Ban or White Cairn, but that is evidently confusing it with the other cairn which we saw over the moss, and which is really whiter. Some people have called it Ossian's Cairn, but that is not an old name, and even if it had been, we know that it is a common thing to attach this name to anything old. We call it Achnacree Cairn, from the name of the farm on which it stands.
It was a pleasant day for us and all around to find an interest so human and natural arising out of things deep in the ground in this secluded place, adn it makes one wonder whether there be not, in every part of the world, something that might interest us all if we only knew how to look at it.
There's plenty more detail on the cairn in this book. There's the interesting detail that on a ledge inside the cairn on the east side "were placed six white pebbles of quartz - four in one part and two a little separate. On the west side were two white pebbles; others of the same kind, but discoloured, were found in the soil." And more pebbles were found in some urns in the cairn. "The quartz pebbles have been often noticed. Mr. Mapleton has found them often in urns and cists in this county, and in one case near Lochnell and far from quartz rock [..] He found three angular pieces of quartz firmly imbedded in a deep cup made in the rock, and surrounded by rings or circle markings, in the Kilmartin district lately. These markings were covered over with about 15 inches of soil, in which no quartz occured. Dr. Wilson mentions twenty-five urns having been found on the Cathkin hills, each with its face downwards, and a quartz stone under it."