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You are here: Information & History | General History - Mounds & Cairns

General History

Mounds & Cairns Holy Wells Proprietors Statistical Accs.

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General History - Mounds & Cairns

There exist three sites of interest within the parish which are clearly indicated on ordnance survey maps either as a mound or cairn. The first mound lies on the line of the Roman road along the Udston Road, a quarter of a mile on the right from Chapel farm heading West. Following the line of trees for approximately 50 metres to the right of which the Roman road takes its course, you will find a distinct circular patch of land some 10 metres in diameter. The mound is flat, possibly due to the marshy soft ground or agricultural land improvements. The ground on which the mound rests is distinctly different from the surrounding land as little seems to grow on this patch apart from heather, low growing grasses and two or three young birch trees. In the centre of the mound there is a little water retention. May this mound have been a burial mound (possibly Roman) like that at Mount Pisgah on the lands of West Mains?

A second cairn can be found by taking a left at Fairy Burn bridge from Sandford towards Tweediehall. A monument stands to the right, a quarter of a mile from the road towards the river Avon, dedicated to the memory of James Whyte and his wife Ann Kerr Bell. To the left of this monument a tree row can be followed towards the river where, 150 metres away, you will find the remains of a cairn. The cairn is oval in shape, 17m by 7m, but this may be due to ploughing over the centuries. The cairn, as shown on the ordnance survey map, leads us to believe that at one time a heap of stones existed on this point indicating a grave or place of burial. No stones are now present on this site, but viewing the position of the cairn from the map, it is clear to see that some kind of structure once existed here. In Robert Naismith’s book it is mentioned that “an unopened tumulus (burial mound) is said to exist on the farm of Tweedie”. This cairn is most probably the one mentioned. Whether or not anything does remain is unlikely, but until proper excavations of these sites take place, we can not be certain.

In 1834 a farmer from Westmains (possibly Robert Dykes) was draining an area of land known as Mount Pisgah (near Cot Castle) when he came across a cairn apparently curbed with large stones. In clearing the stones he found a rich black mould metres deep, in which lay ancient tumulus and a great many urns all perfectly preserved and ornamented in flowers and figures. The urns were thought to have been made from a light coloured clay and contained pieces of burnt bone, ashes and charred wood. The present whereabouts of these treasures are unknown. In Rev. Hugh Dewar’s Statistical Account he states, “There have been other tumuli found in the parish, particularly one at the upper end of it; which, some years ago, was ransacked to the centre, and a number of urns found therein”.

Just outside the parish boundary there exists an excellent example of a cairn approximately one mile from Canderside toll on the Blackwood Road, known as ‘Cairncockle’. In a field 250 metres to the left, after the road leading to Overwood, you will find the half circle remains of a cairn measuring about 29 metres in diameter with the outer edge of the circle dropping half a metre, 9 metres in width. The surviving segment is crossed by an entrance causeway 8 metres in wide. The cairn is halved by a fence running straight through the middle and on the other side is the M74 motorway embankment.

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