The Tinkers' Heart – Argyll and Bute, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Argyll and Bute, Scotland

The Tinkers' Heart

A rare permanent monument to the Scottish Travellers. 

More than two dozen quartz pebbles are arranged in the shape of a heart on a hill overlooking Loch Fyne. Called the Tinkers’ Heart, they form a rare permanent monument to the indigenous Scottish Travellers, members of the nomadic communities that have lived in the United Kingdom since at least the Middle Ages.

The heart’s origins are a bit murky. It’s said the Travellers constructed the small monument as a tribute to the local tinkers who fought and died in the Jacobite rising of 1745. But because many of Scotland’s Traveller communities traditionally rely on oral histories, it’s tough for historians to track down exactly when and why it was made.

What was likely created as a marker of loss and conflict has since become one of love and peace. By the mid-1800s, the heart had become a wedding site. Travellers would journey to the monument to take their vows and celebrate. It has also become a spot where people gather to bless children and hold meetings or make deals.

The heart was actually removed during road construction in the 1920s, but it was later reinstalled after local members of the community protested. It’s now protected by a small fence in an area otherwise used as grazing ground for cattle. In 2015, the heart was officially listed as a Scheduled Monument.