Kilmartin Glen: Nether Largie Mid Cairn

  • Near Kilmartin, Argyll



A linear cemetery

A 2km line of burial cairns runs north to south in Kilmartin Glen, with Nether Largie Mid at the centre. All five are large, round cairns dating to the late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods – about 5,000 to 3,500 years ago. Nether Largie Mid cairn is Bronze Age in date, probably around 4000 years old.

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.

A tomb of status

Nether Largie Mid was excavated in 1929, and two burial cists were found. Each was designed for one individual.

One of the cists is exposed, revealing pecked decorations inside: at least one cup and ring mark, and an axe-head. Axe-head carvings are very rare in Scotland, though they’re also found at Nether Largie North and Ri Cruin. Bronze flat-axes were an indicator of wealth, so their presence in the tomb suggests the person buried here was of high status.

Stone robbers

During the Neolithic and Bronze Age, Kilmartin Glen would have been a much warmer place than it is today. As the climate became cooler and wetter, peat covered the area, including the monuments along Kilmartin Glen.

The peat was removed for fuel in the 1800s, revealing the cairns. They were soon robbed of their stones for the construction of field dykes and roads. Some of Nether Largie Mid’s stones were lost in this way, but for the most part it survived. Another cairn immediately to the south was almost completely quarried away.

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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