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Excavations at Bargrennan chambered cairn

Vicki Cummings with Chris Fowler (Newcastle University)

The chambered cairn at Bargrennan White Cairn in Dumfries and Galloway is part of the Bargrennan group of monuments, a monument form found only in SW Scotland. Funded by the Society of Antiquaries of London, the British Academy and the Prehistoric Society, we excavated the site of Cairnderry in order to try and ascertain when this form of monument was constructed. Unfortunately, we found that the site had been badly robbed, and no material to date the construction of the site was found. So in 2004-2005 we excavated the type site Bargrennan White Cairn, again to try and ascertain when this site had been built. This site had already been excavated in 1949 by Piggott and Powell. However, they had only looked at the chamber and passage, and had stopped digging when they reached the paving.

We excavated the passage but did not find any material under the paving stones. But we did find an exciting range of deposits within and outside the cairn. There was a deposit of cremated bone associated with a quartz scraper to the east of the passage. A pit was dug outside the kerb and a collared urn containing cremated bone from a 15-16 year old, a stone axehead and a bone belt attachment were inserted into the pot. A cist was also inserted into the cairn, which held an urn and the cremated bone from a man. This site was clearly being reused in the early Bronze Age. Underneath the cairn was a late Mesolithic lithic assemblage.

Publications

Cummings, V. and Fowler, C. 2007. From cairn to cemetery: an archaeological investigation of the chambered cairns and early Bronze Age mortuary deposits at Cairnderry and Bargrennan White Cairn, south-west Scotland. Oxford: BAR.

Further information

Bargrennan Project website

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