An ancient burial place
This ancient burial place dates to about 4,000 years ago. Fifteen upright sandstone slabs lie at the edge of a large stone cairn. Antiquarians digging here in the 19th century found a burial cist in the centre, though they didn’t record what they found in it, if anything. Although the monument is now called a stone circle, it was probably built as a kerbed cairn.
A kerbed cairn
Auchagallon was probably built in the early Bronze Age, about 4,000 to 3,200 years ago. It was common then for important people to be buried in a large and impressive kerbed cairn. The body was placed, usually in a crouched position, in a stone-lined burial chamber (cist) beneath the ground. Prestigious objects, such as a decorated food vessel and flint tools, were placed in the cist beside the body. The cist was then covered with an elaborate cairn of stone defined by a kerbed edge.
It is just possible that at Auchagallon, an earlier stone circle was used to form the kerb of the new burial cairn. This is the case at the nearby site of Moss Farm Road, on the track to the Machrie Moor stone circles.
The kerbed cairn at Auchagallon is one of numerous ancient sites dotted about this part of the island of Arran. It lies within a short distance of the remarkable complex of stone circles and standing stones, burial cairns, ancient houses and field systems that cover Machrie Moor. These sites have been dated by archaeologists to the Neolithic era and Bronze Age, between 5,500 and 3,000 years ago. During that period, our remote ancestors began to abandon their hunter-gathering ways and put down roots. Clearly, the triangular basin of fertile land around Machrie Bay supported a flourishing farming community at this time.Highlights
- The location – on the slope of a hill overlooking Machrie Bay.
- The kerb-stones – all are of red sandstone, bar two which are a pale grey granite; but why?
- The enclosure wall – walk the circuit that marked the dividing line between the secular and the spiritual worlds 1,400 years ago.
Region – Glasgow, Clyde and Ayrshire
4m north of Blackwaterfoot on the West side of Arran, off the coastal route (formerly A841).
Grid reference - NR 893 346.