WoSAS Pin: 66676

Site Name: Gypsy's Heart; Gypsy's Wedding Heart; Gypsies' Heart

Alternative Name(s):

Monument Type: Commemorative Monument

Council: Argyll and Bute

Parish: Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich

Map Sheet: NN10NE

Grid Reference: 215752, 708438 NGR from RCAHMS amended to fall on mapped location

Canmore Number: 320140

Non-Statutory Register Code:

Site Report

WoSAS Pin 66676
NN 1575 0844

The Tinkers' Heart is a heart-shaped setting of stones embedded in the tarmac of what was formerly a junction of the A815 and B839 roads; the roads have been realigned and moved to the E, leaving the heart within a pasture field. The site, on a broad terrace above the E shore of Loch Fyne, affords a wide prospect, looking NW to Dunderave Castle on the opposite shore, and W towards Inveraray.

The heart measures 1.75m by 1.4m, the top towards the NW; it has been picked out with quartz pebbles, twenty-five of which are visible around the edge, with a twenty-sixth in the centre. A photograph taken in the mid-20th century (National Museums of Scotland, Scottish Life Archive SLAC 13570) suggests there were formerly many more pebbles around the edge, but it is not known whether the missing stones have been removed or have simply become more deeply embedded and hidden in the tarmac. In recent times the heart has been enclosed by a chain fence hung from three metal posts, but the chain has been replaced by a strand of barbed wire.

The origins of this feature are unclear. There is a tradition within the travelling community that it was constructed as a memorial to local tinkers who joined the Jacobite Rising of 1745 (pers. comm. Jess Smith). If this tradition is correct, the site may be unique as the only physical monument to the tinker community in the Highlands. By the mid-19th century weddings were being celebrated at the site. In 1928 the heart was removed during roadworks, but was reinstated following local protests. The site is still visited, and coins continue to be placed next to the central stone.
Visited by RCAHMS (SDB) 29 June 2012

Site scheduled 30/07/15 as 'Tinkers' Heart, Scottish Travellers' commemorative monument 820m E of Ardno' (AM Index No 13615)
Entered WoSAS (MO'H) 04/08/2015

NN 16752 08438
Monument is as described above. NGR amended to fall on observed location of monument as mapped on modern Ordnance Survey vector-data mapping (previous detailed NGR appears to have been derived from mapped location on scanned version of less accurate 1:10,000 raster map of area).
Site re-Scheduled 21/10/2015 (to correct minor drafting error). Scheduling dcoumentation includes the following information in its Description section:
"Up until 1928, the site may have been marked by a heart-shaped piece of grass in the road. When the road was resurfaced in 1928, it appears the heart shape was restored using quartz stones. Documentary evidence shows that the local authority restored the Heart in 1928 following road works. The road was in use from 1928 until 1967 and works to maintain the Heart during road repairs have been important in the site's development. A photograph taken in the 1950s suggests that there were formerly many more pebbles around the edge of the Heart, illustrating the evolution of the monument. In 1967, a new section of road was built to the east and, thereafter, the original junction, containing the site, was no longer in use as a public road. Since 1967, the site in this disused section of road has been sited within the fields of Ardno Estate. The Heart has been the location for weddings and other ceremonies over many generations: the location was first documented as the venue for a wedding in 1872. The Tinkers' Heart serves as a tangible symbol of the deep relationship between Scottish Travellers and this location at a significant route junction, and has clearly held high spiritual meaning for many Scottish Travellers through the generations.
Entered WoSAS (HMcB) 10/11/2015

Further Reading and Sources