Chambered Cairn: OS Grid Reference – NN 6805 0650
Also Known as:
Along the A84 road between Doune and Callander, take the tiny country lane up to your right to Drumloist (if you’re coming from Doune) or up the tiny unmarked road past Keltie Bridge on your left (if you’re coming from Callander). Uphill for several miles, you eventually emerge from the trees and are on the top of the tiny road. Once here, keep your eyes peeled for Drumloist farm. Best thing to do is walk up the track and ask at the farm. The fella there is a superb old Highlander who’ll point you to the place on the hill above.
Archaeology & History
A site that was never explored by that giant of chambered tomb research, Audrey Henshall. A pity, as it has a lot of potential and seems to have a lot more to say about itself than the meagre findings reported by the Scottish Royal Commission doods.
Although there’s a very notable “fairy hill” eminence close by which strongly draws your attention, the actual hillock upon which this chambered tomb was constructed is in front of this, closer to the farm. A couple of rows of ancient walling—Iron Age by the look o’things—run up the hillside, with one of them running into the eastern sides of the huge mound which this tomb plays a part in. The mound itself is about a hundred feet across, although seems to have been damaged over the centuries. Although it is probably neolithic in origin, sections of the monument seem to have been altered and re-used for other purposes, giving it that distinctly multi-period look.
The farmer informed us how some of the stones from the mound had been robbed and used in some of the walling in the past. He also told us how there are so many other archaeological features upon the moors above here that remain to be “officially” recorded, despite the efforts of some who swept the region for remains a few decades ago.
The main prehistoric section of the tomb that can be seen are the two opened cists, or stone-lined graves, to the top north-western edges of the mound. They align together, NE to SW, with a gap of about three yards between the two open tombs. The more northerly of the two is much more overgrown; whilst the southwestern grave comprises of three large flat upright stones, forming a traditional ‘box’ with smaller flat stones lining the floor. But these two separate tombs (if indeed they were originally separated) point directly to the large, very prominent “fairy mound” about 100 yards northeast, on the north side of the Drumloist Burn. The alignment seems very deliberate.
Walking over the boggy ground to the (unnamed) fairy mound, a natural ‘platform’ of rocks sticks out on its southeasterly side, and upon this are two large cup-markings, with the more easterly one of the two seeming to have a carved arc along its edge. Looking from this mound, back across to the Ballachraggan tomb, the open flat landscape heading southwest is held where the sunset falls. Sadly on the day we visited, Nature greeted us with grey cloud and the drizzle of light rain all afternoon, so we couldn’t make out if there was something, far away, which the tomb was truly aligned with… A damn good site though!
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian