With the dry and sunny weather having now lasted a full week, even some of the most remote parts of the countryside are becoming accessible on foot. This part of Scotland has a wealth of ancient stone monuments and markings including a series of cairns on nearby Mochrum Fell. The site is accessed through a working farm so is pretty well impassable during the winter months. It also requires navigating your way across fields inhabited by sheep and cattle but it is worth the effort.
There are three marked cairns, although there are almost certainly several more that are not indicated on any maps of the area. A cairn is a mound or series of stones erected as a memorial or marker. Some of these cairns are chambered, suggesting that they are burial monuments constructed during Neolithic times. The highest of the three cairns certainly has a burial cist or chamber (foreground of photo below) although discovering more is no easy task. It appears that the burial cist was largely destroyed by a bonfire placed on top of it in comparatively recent times.
These cairns are found throughout the British Isles with the largest number in Scotland. You can only assume that attempting to catalogue or list these sort of ancient monuments is a task that is beyond the means of even the most modern research methods. In most cases very little remains but you get the feeling that there is much more lying undiscovered.
There is a short but steep climb from the lowest cairn to the second and this is presumably of more recent construction as it has an inscribed stone accredited to L.M.W. July 1874. Whilst climbing up the hillside it is well worth taking a breath to stop and appreciate the magnificent views across to the Galloway hills. It is certainly an inspiring scene and you can imagine a large settlement being there in ancient times. There are the ruins of various old farm buildings or cottages and a constructed well (pictured below). As you walk around the fallen stones you find yourself wondering just how much more there is to learn about this mysterious place.
The fact that a burial cist was in evidence indicates the need for burials or cremations and certainly suggests a community once existed in the area. I believe that the highest cairn on the very summit of Mochrum Fell dates to the Bronze Age. It is over 66 feet in diameter but much of it now lies mostly in ruin. You can only guess as to what the original construction may have looked like. There are several large slabs in amongst the debris but I have not yet located any detailed research on the site although I believe some research dates to 1942 when the Marquis of Bute excavated several cairns in the area. It seems that no further research was carried out although it is not uncommon to find ornaments within an excavated cist to indicate the wealth or importance of the person interred there.
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