Excavations at Cairnderry chambered cairn

Vicki Cummings with Chris Fowler (Newcastle University

The chambered cairn at Cairnderry in Dumfries and Galloway is part of the Bargrennan group of monuments, a monument form found only in SW Scotland. Very little was known about these sites until this excavation, and the excavation of Bargrennan itself in 2004-2005. In 2002-2004 , kindly funded by the Society of Antiquaries of London, the British Academy and the Prehistoric Society, we investigated the southern chamber and the surrounding cairn at Cairnderry. We found that Cairnderry had been severely robbed in the past, and no deposits were found to survive in the southern chamber. However, we did find an early Neolithic flint and pot assemblage underneath the cairn and chamber. We also, unexpectedly, found evidence of early Bronze Age reuse at the site. A series of four cremation pits were found round the kerb to the south-east of the monument. These pits all contained cremated human bone and charcoal. One pit also contained some spectacular grave goods: an early Bronze Age battle axehead, an upturned collared urn and an accessory vessel. These objects and radiocarbon dates from the cremated bone demonstrate that BC people were using this site between 1900-1600 BC for funerary activities.


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

Cairnderry Project website