Kilmartin Glen: Glebe Cairn

  • Kilmartin Glebe, Argyll



The linear cemetery

A 2km line of burial cairns runs north to south in Kilmartin Glen, with Glebe Cairn at its northernmost point. All five are large, round cairns dating to the late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods – about 5,000 to 3,500 years ago.

The linear cemetery is part of an extensive archaeological landscape in Kilmartin Glen, and is associated with other ritual monuments such as Temple Wood stone circle.

Inside the cairn

Glebe Cairn is a substantial circular mound of stones – today it stands 30m wide and 3m tall. Excavations in 1864 revealed a cist – or stone-built coffin – within the cairn, surrounded by two concentric rings of upright boulders.

A jet necklace of 26 beads and two spacer-plates was also found here, but was sadly lost in a house fire. A ceramic food vessel has survived, however, and can be seen in the nearby Kilmartin House Museum.

A fragment of a second food vessel was found in a cist, capped by a schist slab close to the cairn’s centre.

Both of the food vessels are similar to Bronze Age pots from Ireland, and may have been imported. One has simple handles on its side and a decorated base, and may have been intended to be suspended.

A prehistoric landscape

A rich prehistoric landscape survives in Kilmartin Glen, providing a tantalising insight into its prehistoric population. The surviving rock art along the glen is remarkable for the number of elaborately carved outcrops, the style of and extent of the carvings, and their close association with other prehistoric monuments.  No other place in Scotland has such a concentration of prehistoric carved stone surfaces, and Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments.

Other carved rock outcrops around Kilmartin Glen include:

Other monuments include:

The glen is also home to an important collection of medieval sculptured stones.

Opening times

Open year-round.

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