Glen Cochill Cairnfield (01), Little Dunkeld, Perthshire

Cairns:  OS Grid Reference – NN 9035 4145

Getting Here

Two of at least five cairns hereby

Two of at least five cairns hereby

Take the A826 road south out of Aberfeldy, uphill, till you reach the White Cairn or Carn Ban, then follow the dirt-track for 700 yards onto the moors until you reach the Glen Cochill Circle 1.  From here, look at the large stone atop of the very notable rounded hillock barely 50 yards east (at NN 90367 41478) and meander on the slopes immediately below it on the south and west.  If the heather’s grown back, you don’t stand a chance!

Archaeology & History

As far as I’m aware, despite there being some brief notes of cairnfields in and around the rich prehistoric arena of Glen Cochill, I can find no data indicating that the five small single cairns a short distance south and southeast of the Glen Cochill Ring (01), have been described before.

Cairn 1 - looking north

Cairn 1 – looking north

Cairn 2 - looking north

Cairn 2 – looking north

Deeply embedded into the peat, they are only visible when the heather has been burnt away, as highlighted in the accompanying photos.  Each cairn is of roughly the same size and structure: 2-3 yards across and only a couple of feet above ground-level, consisting of the traditional small rounded stones, each probably constituting a single burial or cremation.

Cairn 4, below the hilltop rock

Cairn 4, below the hilltop rock

Of at least five cairns that we found here (there may be others beneath the covering heather), it was very notable that they’re on edges of a rounded pyramidal hillock, whose top is surmounted by a large pointed stone – probably a glacial erratic.  We looked at this rock in the hope of finding some cup-markings, but there were none.  However, it seemed as if the cairns and this crowning stone were related to each other, as if rites for the dead were proclaimed here for those in the tombs.  It may sound silly, but go there and take a look at it yourselves – before the heather grows back.  Just as a priests today, and shamans throughout history, have used an altar or plinth to make commemorations to the dead, so this crowning stone may equally have been used.  It makes sense.  And, as if to add validating ingredients: if we look east, past the crowning stone and across the River Cochill, we see the great rocks in the forest known as Creag a Bhaird, or the Crag of the Bard, from whence orations and tales were known to be told… But that’s another site with its very own story…

Acknowledgements:  Once again, thanks must be given to Mr Paul Hornby for his help in finding these sites.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Glen Cochill Cairnfield (1)

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Glen Cochill Cairnfield (1) 56.552287, -3.785213 Glen Cochill Cairnfield (1)

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