Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, Scotland.

This evening, I am posting information on the richly endowed prehistoric site at Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, West of Scotland.

Kilmartin village is located about thirty miles south of Oban on Scotland’s West Coast.

Kilmartin Glen (valley) is home to a concentration of more than 150 prehistoric and historic sites which sit within a six mile radius of  Kilmartin village. These sites include burial cairns, rock-carvings, standing stones, a henge and stone circles, There is an excellent museum and information centre located in Kilmartin village, close to the church.

View of Kilmartin Glen from Kilamrtin Church.


Here is a summary of the key sites which can be found in and around Kilmartin’s linear prehistoric cemetery which extends for over a mile along the valley floor:-

Glebe Cairn: A burial cairn now comprising a rounded pile of stones and which dates from between 2000 and 1500 BC.

Glebe Cairn, Kilmartin Glen, Scotland.

Nether Largie North: A burial cairn which probably dates from between 2000 BC and 1500BC.

Nether Largie North Cairn, Kilmartin Glen, Argyll.

Nether Largie Mid Cairn: The middle cairn of the string of five cairns. The site was excavated in 1929 when two cists were found one of which was decorated with carved axe heads and is still visible.

Nether Largie Mid Cairn, Kilmartin Glen.

Nether Largie South: This is the only chambered cairn of the linear cemetery and may date to around 3000 BC. Excavation sin the 19th century revealed two pots which can be viewed in the Kilmartin Museum. Ri Cruin Cairn: Most southerly of the five cairns and dates from about 2000-1500 BC. This cairn has been subject to no less than three excavations which revealed three cists. Still visible is the carvings of axeheads on one of the slabs.

Nether Largie South Chambered Cairn, Kilmartin Glen

Temple Wood Stone Circles: In use for a long period commencing around 3500 BC through to about 1050 BC and subject to extensive alteration over the long period of use. There are two circles; the northern structure was originally of wood and then replaced by stone. Another circle was built to the south around 3000 BC. The reconstructed site today shows how the site would have looked in its final phase.

Nether Largie Stones: Located about 250M SE of Temple Wood, this site comprises two pairs of uprights with settings of four and five stones in between. Three of the stones are decorated with carvings.

Ballymeanoch Stones: Six standing stones remain of what may originally have been an extensive complex of monuments and earthworks. The stones are arranged in two parallel lines some of which are decorated with cup marks and cup and ring marks.

Ballymeanoch Stones, Kilmartin Glen, Argyll

Ballymeanoch Henge:  The only henge monument in the west of Scotland and probably dates from 3,000 BC to 2500 BC. Used for burials around 2000 BC. Two burial cists were found within the henge.

Ballymeanoch Henge, Kilmartin Glen

Ballymeanoch Kerb Cairn: Originally circular and now much depleted. May date from around 1300 BC.

Ballymeanoch Kerb Cairn, Kilmartin Glen

Dunchraigaig Cairn: Used for a mix of burial practices 2000 BC-1500 BC. Excavators recovered two pots which are in the National Museum of Scotland.

Dunchraigaig Cairn, Kilmartin Glen

Baluachraig Stone Carvings: Extensive collection of prehistoric cups and rings etched into the bedrock above Kilmartin valley floor.

Baluachraig Carvngs, Kilmartin Glen

Kilmichael Carvings: Two sets of prehistoric rock carvings including cups and rings.

Achnabreck Carvings: Two separate outcrops which comprise the most extensive group of pre-historic carvings in Scotland. The carvings mainly consist of cups and rings.

Cairnbaan Carvings: Two groups of prehistoric rock carvings located high on a hill above Cairnbaan.

Ormaig Carvings: Exposed as recently as 1974 and hence the outcrop of rock carvings are well preserved.

Kintraw Standing Stone and Cairn: Two cairns, an enclosure and a 4M high stone. Overlooks Loch Craignish and the Sound of Jura.

Castle Dounie: A dun or fort overlooking the sound of Jura.

Dunadd: Iconic site which stands on a rocky outcrop to the south of Kilmartin Glen. Occupied 5th-10th centuries AD, firstly by the Scottie who came from Ireland and gave their name to Scotland. This was probably a high status power base as evidenced by the archaeological evidence of luxury goods finds. There is also a stone carving of a boar and footprint with the latter possibly used in inauguration ceremonies. Access to the top is via rough path which affords superb views  over the local countryside.

Boar carving at Dunadd Fort, Argyll

View from summit of Dunadd Fort, Argyll

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