Cairnpark, Dollar, Clackmannanshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference — NS 9618 9802

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 48240

Archaeology & History

The destruction of this site more than two hundred years ago almost beggars belief.  It isn’t merely the fact that the self-righteous Industrialists did such things consistently, but that this particular tomb was more than just a few cartloads of stone being removed.  The site would also have been completely lost to history were it not for the diligent research of local historian William Gibson (1883).  In exploring the local place-names of the village, he asked the old locals as to “the origin of the name of Cairnpark in Dollar.” This is what he found:

“I have just learned, in the course of my present inquiries, that at the beginning of this century Dollar was possessed of an object of very great interest, but which unfortunately was entirely removed about the year 1806 or 1807. This was nothing less than a great pyramid (well, it was not quite so big as the famous one of Egypt, but still it was a great pile) which had evidently been erected to commemorate some great battle, or the death of some celebrated warrior; and it certainly is very much to be regretted that it should have been removed.  This was an immense cairn of stones, some thirty feet high, and as many square at the base; and the park in which it stood took its name from it—Cairnpark; and the street leading up to the Academy also got its name—Cairnpark Street—from its being made through this park.  It will scarcely be believed, yet it is nevertheless true, that this ancient and interesting cairn was removed for the ignoble purpose of being broken into road-metal for the new turnpike road that was then being constructed along the foot of the Ochils.  By whose orders it was removed I cannot say; but the late Mr. William Blackwood, of the New Town, superintended its removal, and kept a correct note of the cart-loads that were in it, and found they amounted to the astonishing number of one thousand! (my emphasis, PB)

“When the bottom was reached, there were found in the centre of it a number of ancient clay urns, showing that this immense cairn was a thing of great antiquity, and connected with some important event, and, had it been allowed to remain, would have been an object of interest second only to Castle Campbell itself, and an additional attraction to the ancient town of Dollar.  The Rev. Mr. Watson got possession of some of the urns, but what became of them is not now known.”

More than fifty years later, A.L. Drummond (1937) mentioned this old tomb, but could add no further details about it.  Does anyone know what became of the burial remains?  And how on earth could a giant tomb nearly 10 metres tall (Newgrange is 12m), consisting of 1000 cartloads of stone, be destroyed with barely any record of its existence? Astonishing!

Folklore

In a field south of the giant tomb, Gibson (1883) reported, “we used to have glorious ‘bonfires’ on the King’s birthday.”  In Simpkins’ (1914) work, we read of an excess of witches nearby; and of a local giant responsible for creating parts of the landscape—akin to those we sometimes find attached to giant tombs—but nothing specifically relating to this tomb.  Surely there must be remains of some traditions of this place, somewhere…?

References:

  1. Drummond, A.L., “The Prehistory and Prehistoric Remains of the Hillfoots and Neighbouring District”, in Transactions Stirling Natural History & Antiquarian Society, volume 59, 1937.
  2. Gibson, William, Reminiscences of Dollar, Tillicoultry and other Districts Adjoining the Ochils, Andrew Elliot 1883.
  3. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Clackmannan District and Falkirk District, Edinburgh 1978.
  4. Simpkins, John Ewart, County Folklore – volume VII: Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning Fife, with some Notes on Clackmannan and Kinross-Shires, Folk-Lore Society: London 1914.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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About megalithix

Occultist, prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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