Kilmartin Glen Cairns

Argyll & Bute | Kilmartin | Burial cairns | ★★★

[View north along Kilmartin's linear cairns from Nether Largie Mid Cairn]

If you're only ever going to visit one Neolithic and Bronze Age site in mainland Scotland, it should be Kilmartin Glen. Few places in the world boast such a dense concentration of prehistoric sites, liberally scattered along the valley between Kilmartin village towards the head of the valley and Cairnbaan near its foot. Central to the attractions are several huge burial cairns, built between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago but dominating the landscape even today. 5 of the cairns lie in a very deliberate chain extending down the glen from Kilmartin; these are grouped together below under "Linear Cairns" and can all be explored on a straightforward half-day walk from the village - by far the best way to visit them as there's only limited parking nearby each one. The other mentioned here (though there are others too) is an outlier, close to the main road and a little further south.

[Opening the access hatch to Nether Largie North Cairn's burial chamber]

Location & info

The list shows the 5 linear cairns from north to south first, followed by the single outlier - Dunchraigaig Cairn.

📌 Glebe Cairn ★★
💬 Northernmost of the Kilmartin burial cairns, overlooked by the museum.
5-min walk west of Kilmartin village centre, G.R.: NR 833989 ///detective.enter.socket
Always open | Free

📌 Nether Largie North Cairn ★★★
💬 Second of the linear cairns, with the interior burial chamber accessed by a sliding door.
15-min walk south of Kilmartin village centre, G.R. NR 831985 ///caps.horizons.riskiest
Always open | Free

📌 Nether Largie Mid Cairn ★★
💬 Middle of the linear cairns.
15-min walk south of Kilmartin village centre, G.R.: NR 830983 ///parks.published.walks
Always open | Free

📌 Nether Largie South Cairn ★★
💬 Probably the oldest of the cairns, constructed over 5,000 years ago.
20-min walk south of Kilmartin village centre, G.R.: NR 829979 ///loans.replying.magic
Always open | Free

📌 Ri Cruin Cairn ★★
💬 Southernmost of the linear cairns, though damaged during the 1700s and 1800s.
Off minor road 1 mi south of Kilmartin, G.R.: NR 825971 ///sundial.plenty.tones
Always open | Free

💬 If you're not walking from Kilmartin village, there's limited parking for Ri Cruin Cairn on the minor road past Ri Cruin House at G.R.: NR 826973 ///kilts.sunbeam.unspoiled. From here it's a 5-min walk on a clear path.

📌 Dunchraigaig Cairn ★★
💬 4,000-year-old cairn standing apart from the linear chain: the remains of up to 10 people were found in one of the cists during excavations.
By the A816 1 mi south of Kilmartin, G.R.: NR 833968 ///canoe.wool.residual
Always open | Free

💬 Park directly opposite on the A816. (While you're here, it's only a few minutes' walk to the Baluachraig Rock Art).

[Ri Cruin Cairn]

[Main chamber at Nether Largie South Cairn]

[Glebe Cairn seen from Kilmartin village (16/7/16)]

[Dunchraigaig Cairn (16/7/16)]


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