CC BY-SA, Otter

Location: Uists and Benbecula
archaeology, gaelic language and placenames

Barpa Langass Story

Dating back to 5000 BC, Barpa Langais (Barpa Langass) on the slopes of Ben Langass in North Uist, is the best preserved Neolithic chambered cairn in the Outer Hebrides.

Containing a great mass of stones, it is four metres high and twenty-five meters in diameter, with a small chamber inside which served as communal tribal burial rather than used for a single leader. In Neolithic times, the cairn would have dominated a very different landscape of fertile fields of primitive barley and wheat instead of today’s blanket bog.

The monument was probably in continual use for thousands of years, as it was found to contain cremated human remains with charcoal and pottery fragments of a later people when excavated by famous antiquarian Erskine Beveridge in the 1890s.

It may even be associated with the fine stone circle of Pobul Fhinn overlooking a nearby loch, as such structures are said to have helped Neolithic farmers keep track of the seasons. But when archaeological work before road widening in 2006 located traces of occupation in the Mesolithic period, the Barpa Langass site became even more special.

Traces of small post holes used to erect shelters, ashes from fires together with small flakes of quartz and an ‘anvil’ stone still in position under the blanket bog, shows that some 1000 years earlier, a small band of hunter-gatherers would have set up camp near the cairn, thus making it also one of the earliest Mesolithic sites in the Outer isles.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.