Cists, Cairns & Barrows
A cist: is a small stone-built, coffin-like box used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found across Europe and in the Middle East, and several have been found on Mull. A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow; several cists may be found close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments, pottery and weapons have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual. Unfortunately, there are no visible remains of most of the cists on Mull.
The following is a list of cists found on Mull with grid references. Where the name is highlighted, more detailed information is available, sometimes including images. Click to go to the link. Please check back for further information as the Society has an ongoing updating programme.
A cairn: is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn). Cairns are found all over the world. They vary in size from small stone markers to entire artificial hills, and in complexity from loose, conical rock piles to delicately balanced sculptures and elaborate feats of megalithic engineering.
In modern times, cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times. Since prehistory, they have also been built as sepulchral monuments, or used for defensive, hunting, ceremonial, astronomical and other purposes.
Although only one chambered cairn (Neolithic; at Port Donian) has been identified on Mull there are many Bronze age cairns, and they are still being discovered and recorded, though few have been scientifically excavated.
The following is alist the cairns on Mull with grid references. Click on highlights for more information, and check back for updates.
A barrow: is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Barrows are also known as tumuli (plural tumuli), burial mounds, hügelgräber or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A cairn (a mound of stones built for various purposes), might also originally have been a barrow. A long barrow is a long mound, usually for numbers of burials. The method of inhumation may involve a dolmen, a cist, a mortuary enclosure, a mortuary house or a chamber tomb.