Bàrr a’ Chuirn, Kilmartin, Argyll

Cairn:  OS Grid References – NR 8122 9782

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 39465
  2. Lady’s Seat Cairn

Getting Here

Many ways to get here, but you’ve gotta amble off-path through the woods to eventually find it — but it’s not difficult. From Kilmartin village head to Slockavullin and walk up the winding track which takes you towards the Ballygowan cup-and-ring stones, but follow it into the woods instead. The OS-map’s gonna be your best guide here. I first visited this spot from the south and ambled about, aimlessly at times for several hours, after I’d first been to the great ruined mansion of Poltalloch. Well worth checking out if you enjoy finding allsorts!

Archaeology & History

The old tomb is actually a few hundred yards beneath the small rocky summit of Barr a’ Chuirn, with the overgrowth of the woods imposing itself upon it. The Scottish Royal Commission report (1988) told that there was a large seat built here in the 19th century called the Lady’s Seat, and actually set up on the cairn itself so giving groovy views all round to those who came here. The Seat was made from large slabs of stone, which may originally have come from the old tomb.  An excavation here in the mid-19th century,

“found the remains of two cists and some burnt bones, with a ‘skeleton of later date, between the two cists, but probably put there by the men who destroyed the cairn.’ In 1929 Craw re-examined the site and found that the central cist had chambered and grooved slabs. This cist is aligned ENE and WSW, and the E end-slab is now missing; the cist measured about 1m by 0.5m and about 0.3m in depth internally. The northern side-slab is grooved at the west end.”


  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll: volume 6 – Mid-Argyll and Cowal, HMSO: Edinburgh 1988.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian