Cairns. - The earliest monuments in this country, as has been frequently
pointed out in the Introductions to previous Inventories, are the long cairns. These
structures, containing one or more massive cists or chambers, were erected by the
early inhabitants for the disposal of their illustrious dead, for it cannot be
supposed that such were the burial-places for all and sundry. In treating of the
archæology of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, it was pointed out that the people
who reared these impressive monuments had evidently, to judge by their distribution,
approached the parts of the county to which such evidence of their presence is con-
fined, from two directions: either from the Solway, passing up the valley of the
Cree, or from the north, crossing what is now the Ayrshire border in the neighbour-
hood of Carsphairn. The southern region is remote from Dumfriesshire, and the
builders of the long cairns do not seem to have spread, by the evidence of the
monuments, farther west than the lower reaches of the Cree. The northern district,
however, in which these long cairns occur, lies much nearer to Dumfriesshire, and
from it the earliest inhabitants appear to have penetrated into that county by way
of Stroanfreggan, thence westward by Moniaive and Thornhill to the moorland region
between Queensberry Hill and Annandale. Taking a breadth of a few miles to
either side of this line, one will include probably all the cairns, whether long or
round, in the county which appear to belong to the Neolithic period. ¹ Of long
cairns there are at most four: the "White Cairn" (No. 249) at Fleuchlarg in
Glencairn Parish, a cairn on Capenoch Moor (No. 329) in Keir Parish, the wholly
reduced remains near Clonfeckle in Kirkmahoe (No. 351), and a cairn of smaller
dimensions than any of the others on the moor near Stiddrig (No. 415) in the
parish of Kirkpatrick-Juxta. As none of these cairns has been excavated, it is
not possible to say what the form of the chamber may be. In this same region
are several other cairns which, though not of the long type but circular, are yet
of sufficient magnitude to render it probable that they too contain either chambers
or megalithic cists of the transitional period between the Stone and Bronze Ages,
such as the cairn at Stroanfreggan contained. ²
When we turn to consider the cairns which indicate a purely Bronze Age origin
we find that they have a wider distribution throughout the county, though they
cannot be reckoned numerous in any district. They are sparsely distributed along
the south from Mouswald to Robgill and Mossknow; they are more scarce in the
central region, and only practically in the tract of country in which are found the
few long cairns are these cairns of the Bronze Age comparatively numerous.
Towards the east side of the county, in the Eskdale and Ewesdale district,
which being largely pastoral has probably suffered less by the dilapidation of its
early monuments than the more highly cultivated districts, one is struck by the
absence of such remains. There is a cist marking the site of a cairn on Bankhead
Hill (No. 648) in the parish of Westerkirk in Eskdale, and the remains of a cairn
still exist in a plantation at Sorbie Bridge (No. 222) in Ewes; but beyond these, in

1 The later inclusion in the Inventory of what proved on investigation to be long cairns in the parish
of Canonbie (No. 47) does not substantially modify these generalisations. It increases the total to six.
2 Inventory of Monuments in Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, No. 160.

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