Cairnholy Chambered Cairn **

In this region: <<<<<  >>>>>

Cairnholy Chambered Cairns cc-by-sa/2.0 - © G Laird -


A pair of marvellous Neolithic chambered cairns stand on a sloping hill looking south over Wigtown Bay. These  cairns were erected sometime around 4000 BC. The first monument you come to is Cairn Holy I. The cairn measures roughly 170 x 50 feet and is fronted by a crescent-shaped facade.

Behind the facade, guarded by slender standing stones, is a ruined chamber in two sections. In the outer section a jade axe, imported from somewhere in the Alps, was unearthed (it is now in the National Museum of Antiquities).

A blocking stone originally defended the inner chamber. It is likely that the inner chamber was the original, and that the outer chamber, facade, and forecourt were added later. Note the cup marks on one of the facade stones guarding the entrance to the cairn.

Other finds within the chamber include Neolithic pottery sherds, an arrowhead, and later pottery and a flint knife. There were further pottery sherds in the inner chamber, with a cup-and-ring marked stone.

A short walk from the first cairn brings you to Cairn Holy II, another Clyde type cairn. Legend says that Cairn Holy II was the burial place of Caldus, or Galdus, a legendary Scottish king. Because of this association, some people come to Cairn Holy II to light candles or leave small offerings like flowers.

This is a smaller monument, measuring 70 x 40 feet, and never rising to more than 2 feet high. Again, there is a twin-chambered interior, behind a shallow forecourt, much less impressive than Cairn Holy I. Finds from the inner chambers were sparse, as the grave had previously been robbed, but an arrowhead and flint knife were found, with more Beaker type pottery sherds.