Ancient Treasures of Kilmartin Glen

Situated about 25 miles south of Oban in Argyll, surrounding the village of Kilmartin, the historic site of Kilmartin Glen contains one of Scotland’s most significant concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze remains. It is believed that this area was occupied as far back as the Mesolithic Age (6,000 to 4,000 BC). With more than 350 ancient monuments in the area, there is certainly plenty of evidence of human occupation through the ages and discovering the archaeological treasures of Kilmartin Glen can be a fascinating experience.

The Kilmartin House Museum is a good starting point for exploring Kilmartin Glen. The museum is located in a lovely old building that previously served as the manse for the nearby church. The exhibits include a model of Kilmartin Glen, ancient tools and weapons, and animal furs and skins, such as those which may have been worn by humans in prehistoric times. Visitors can attempt to mill wheat using ancient methods and enjoy the presentation of “The Valley of Ghosts” – an audio visual trip back in time. The shop at the Kilmartin Museum has a variety of local arts and crafts for sale.

The Kilmartin churchyard is home to a glass covered building where gravestones have been arranged in chronological order from the 1300s through to late 1700s. Many of these gravestones depict men with swords, spears and claymores – the large double-edged sword used by Scottish Highlanders during the 16th century. A range of stones with intricate carvings from Poltalloch Estate can be viewed in the village church graveyard and a range of Kilmartin crosses are displayed inside the church.

Kilmartin Glen’s most visible feature is the linear arrangement of five cairns, although evidence has been found that suggests there were more cairns in this linear arrangement. Four of these burial cairns are believed to be from the Bronze Age, whereas the fifth, Nether Largie South, was a Stone Age structure that was rebuilt during the Bronze Age. Each of the cairns has revealed valuable archaeological finds including a number of cist burials, jewelry, decorated bowls, Neolithic pottery and arrowheads.

A number of standing stones can be found throughout Kilmartin Glen, as well as numerous cup and ring carved rock surfaces. It is not known what significance these cup and ring markings have, or the time period when they were made. Similar markings on natural rock surfaces have been found at Cairnbaan, Achnabreck and near Kilmichael Glassary in Scotland.

Visitors to Kilmartin Glen will come to appreciate some of Scotland’s historical and unusual manmade landmarks, while enjoying the natural beauty of the area, including Moine Mhor (Great Moss), a 1,200 acre estuarine peat bog, which is a National Nature Reserve and home to a variety of birds and animals. If you are traveling in Scotland, a trip to Kilmartin Glen is sure to be interesting and memorable.