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North Uist, Unival, Leacach An Tigh Chloiche

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Cist (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Inhumation(S) (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Standing Stone (Prehistoric), Cinerary Urn (Pottery)(Early Bronze Age), Unidentified Pottery (Pottery)(Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name North Uist, Unival, Leacach An Tigh Chloiche

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic), Cist (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Inhumation(S) (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Standing Stone (Prehistoric), Cinerary Urn (Pottery)(Early Bronze Age), Unidentified Pottery (Pottery)(Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Uneval, Uineabhal

Canmore ID 10234

Site Number NF86NW 4

NGR NF 80033 66859

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish North Uist
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NF86NW 4 80033 66859

See also NF86NW 18 (Iron Age house).

A square cairn, with a Hebridean type chamber, excavated by Scott in 1935 and 1939 (W L Scott 1950). It measures 53ft (16.1m) along each side and 4ft (1.2m) in maximum height. The facade in the ESE and the peristalith, where visible, are of orthostats alternating with drystone walling. The chamber, entered through the facade, contained a cist-like structure with inhumations. Pottery from the cairn included Grooved Ware, Beaker and Cinerary Urn as well as its definitive round-based ware. Some 23ft (7m) from the SW corner of the cairn is a standing stone, 10ft (3m) high and 5ft (1.5m) wide, facing the centre of the cairn. In the early iron age a stone-walled house (NF86NW 18) was built into the NE corner of the cairn.

E Beveridge 1911; RCAHMS 1928; W L Scott 1948; A S Henshall 1972.


Field Visit (8 September 1914)

Chambered Cairn and Stone Circle, Leacach an Tigh Chloiche, Uineval.

On a plateau about half-way up the south-western slope of Uineval, at an elevation of about 250 feet above sea-level, with a fine prospect of the southern extension of the Long Island, is a ruined chambered cairn, Leacach an Tigh Chloiche (“place of slabs of the stone house”), within the eastern arc of a stone circle. The outline of the cairn and consequently its relative position to the ring of stones are somewhat problematical, as the mound has been torn to pieces to build at least five shielings, the ruins of which are enclosed within the limits of the circle. The cairn has measured at least 36 feet in diameter and is now reduced to a height of about 6 feet. On the eastern side of the mound is a ruined oval chamber, measuring 7 feet 6 inches at least from east to west and 6 feet 6 inches from north to south, formed by six upright slabs placed close side by side, which vary from 5 feet 3 inches to 2 feet 2 inches in height and from 3 feet 2 inches to 2 feet 3inches in breadth; the largest stone in the inner end to the west rises 4 feet 6 inches clear above the present summit of the cairn, which thus must have had an original height of more than 11 feet (Fig. 136).

Of the encircling ring of stones only one, the largest, which measures 5 feet 5 inches in height, 3 feet 5 inches in breadth and 10 inches in thickness, and which stands on the west-north west of the circle, shows the true characteristics of a pillar of a stone circle; the eight other slabs, of which six remain in their original position and three have been displaced in the construction of shielings, have the appearance of boundary or marginal stones so often seen in the Hebridean chambered cairns. Three of the six undisturbed slabs, which are about 3 feet 6 inches in height and have a breadth of from 3 feet to 4 feet 6 inches, are placed on the east side of the cairn with a distinct inward slant, at distances of 1 foot 7 inches and 4 feet 6 inches apart, the most northerly of the three being set up almost in front of and within 2 feet of the eastern end of the chamber in the cairn. Unless these boundary stones had been some distance within the mound and covered with stones the eastern side of the cairn must have been very steep. The diameter of the circle from east-south-east to west-north-west is 48 feet 6 inches, and there is no evidence at hand to suggest that the whole space could have been covered with a heap of stones 11 feet in height. It seems unlikely that this place could have been used as a quarry as the ground at the foot of the hill is a peat bog, a serious impediment to the transport of stones, and there is no building within two miles except a dun in a loch less than a mile distant (NF86NW 3). At a distance of 33 feet west of the circle is a fine standing stone facing east-north-east, that is slightly to the north of the centre of the cairn. It measures 8 feet 4 inches in height, 11 inches in thickness, and is of irregular breadth. From a width of 5 feet at two-thirds its height it contracts on the northern side, about 1 foot from the ground, to a width of 3 feet 3 inches, and is 5 feet wide at the base.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 8 September 1914.

OS map: North Uist xxxiv.

Measured Survey (21 July 1924)

RCAHMS surveyed this site by plane-table on 21 July 1924. The resultant plan was redrawn in ink and published at a reduced size in RCAHMS 1928 as Figure 138.

Publication Account (1985)

Several upright stones can be seen halfway down the profile of the hill. It is a complex monument with an earlier chambered tomb and the remains of a later iron-age house.

The cairn is low and square, some 16m on each side. Some of the upright kerb-stones marking the edge still remain, with drystone walling between them, while others have now fallen. On the south-east side more remain and they increase in height towards the centre, where a short narrow passage leads into an irregularly shaped chamber of upright slabs measuring about 1.8m by 2.2m and now roofless. Excavation in 1935 and 1939 produced parts of the skeletons of two people from the chamber, and a large number of sherds from several different neolithic pots, a stone ball and a few pieces of worked flint and quartz. There is a standing stone a short distance from the south-west corner of the cairn.

In the north-east corner of the cairn, an amorphous hollow is all that remains of an iron-age dwelling. The inhabitants apparently used the chamber itself as a cooking pit and large quantities of pottery were found in the house and in the chamber. The finds are now in NMAS.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

Field Visit (23 September 2010)

Situated on a terrace on the SW flank of Unival, this chambered cairn is largely as described and planned by Henshall. Though the cairn is said to be ‘almost square in plan’, it may be more D-shaped, with the façade on the ESE bowing outwards and the NNW and SSW sides narrowing slightly towards the rear, WNW, side. The cairn is grass grown with loose stones strewn across its interior and is defined by a peristalith of large slabs with little evidence of drystone masonry surviving between them. What may have been the stone forming the WSW corner lies flat, partly hidden in the heather. The entrance is more or less central to the façade with a short passage 1.4m long leading to an oval chamber; both the passage and chamber are set askew to the axis of the facade. Seven slabs make up the chamber, the tallest standing 2m high at the rear, W, end. The axis of the chamber extends through this slab and coincides not only with the tallest stone still standing on the WNW side of the peristalith, but also the largest stone on the façade. The remains of an Iron Age house (NF86NW 18) overlie the E of the cairn, while on the WSW, 7m beyond the peristalith, there is an impressive standing stone. This measures 1.45m in breadth by 0.15m in thickness and stands 2.6m in height in a water-filled peaty hollow with some chocking stones exposed around its base.

Visited by RCAHMS (ARG,SPH) 23 September 2010

Note (2020)


This burial site in Western Isles was a focus for funerary practices in the Neolithic/Bronze Age period, between 4000 BC and 801 BC.

Prehistoric Grave Goods project site ID: 60112


Total no. graves with grave goods: 3

Total no. people with grave goods: 5

Total no. grave goods: 5

Prehistoric Grave Goods project Grave ID: 72341

Grave type: Cist

Burial type(s): Inhumation, Inhumation

Grave good: Pot

Materials used: Pottery

Current museum location: National Museum of Scotland

Museum accession no.: X.EO 862

Grave good: Pebble

Materials used: Stone (Uncertain/Unspecified)

Current museum location: National Museum of Scotland

Museum accession no.: X.EO 869

Prehistoric Grave Goods project Grave ID: 72342

Grave type: Chamber

Burial type(s): Inhumation, Inhumation

Grave good: Pot

Materials used: Pottery

Current museum location: Unknown

Grave good: Pot

Materials used: Pottery

Current museum location: Unknown

Prehistoric Grave Goods project Grave ID: 72343

Grave type: Pit

Burial type(s): Inhumation

Grave good: Pot (Unknown/Unspecified)

Materials used: Pottery

Current museum location: Unknown

Further details, the full project database and downloads of project publications can be found here:

An accessible visualisation of the database can be found here:


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