Extract from Glasgow Courier of 15th July 1813. Page 4 Column E


Mr Weir of Kirkhall, near Ardrossan, having witnessed, many years ago, the extraordinary variation of the compass, at a certain spot near some cairns, or tumuli, of stones at Shinniewilly, on the island of Little Cumbray, which variation he ascribed to iron buried at that place, he stated the fact in 1372 to the Earl of Eglinton, the proprietor, and , in his presence, again placed the compass, as nearly as he could recollect, on the same spot, when the same variation was again observed.
As there is a tradition that a Dane was buried in his armour at Shinniewilly, immediately opposite to the Largs, where the famous battle was fought, the Earl of Eglinton was resolved to have the fact ascertained, and ordered a number of workmen from Ardrossan to the island, to open cairns under the superintendance of trusty persons(?). The workmen, by previous arrangements, suggested by Mr Weir, opened one of the cairns, by running a trench from N.E. When near the centre, and not above two feet below the level of the ground, they discovered a circular piece of hollowed iron, much corroded; the hollow part three and a half inches in diameter and two inches in depth, having a rim all round three quarters of an inch broad, and with the remains of nails or rivets on the rim. About two feet five inches from this, they discovered pieces of iron, apparently part of a sword or dagger, one piece of which seemed to form part of the handle and blade, measuring eleven inches in length and two inches at the broadest part. So soon as these were discovered the workmen desisted in order that Lord Eglinton, who had resolved to visit the spot, might witness the position of these relics and give further directions.
On the 8th, his lordship, accompanied by a number of gentlemen, and in the presence of several scientific individuals, whom curiosity had drawn from the opposite coast ordered the workmen to proceed, and a great number of fragments of corroded iron were discovered: the greater part of which were double headed or riveted nails, measuring about one inch from head to head.
The workmen having nearly cleared another cairn, a large flat stone was discovered, which being removed disclosed an oblong aperture or coffin, 25 inches long, 16 broad and 18 deep, formed of four stones, and lying N.E. and S.W. In this coffin there was contained an urn, empty, but, from the blackness of the inside appearing, to have contained ashes; and, near to the urn, some small human bones and a number of teeth, the roots of the latter decayed, but the enamelled part in most perfect preservation.
A low cairn, raised very little above the level of the ground , was next examined, and after a short time an urn was discovered of a handsome shape and ornamented on the exterior, but which unfortunately, from its only being surrounded by loose stones and extremely brittle, was broken in removing. The men were then directed to return to the first opened cairn, and having dug to a depth of nearly ten feet, found a large flag stone, which covered a coffin three feet six inches long, 26 inches wide and 25 inches deep, formed of four stones and lying E. and W. - In the N.E. corner there stood an urn of brown clay, much ornamented, and containing black earth or ashes; in the S.E. corner a part of a human scull. The rest was empty excepting a few scattered fragments of decayed bones.
The present is but a hasty and imperfect account, but one more full and particular shall be given hereafter. There are still several cairns untouched, but whether any more of them shall be opened or not, will depend upon the opinion of those competent to judge if it is an object of farther research.