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North Uist, Barpa Nam Feannag

Chambered Long Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name North Uist, Barpa Nam Feannag

Classification Chambered Long Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Maari

Canmore ID 10346

Site Number NF87SE 13

NGR NF 85694 72046

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. 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

NF87SE 13 8567 7207

(NF 8601 7207) Barpa nam Feannag (NR)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904).

This long cairn at 100ft OD, composed of irregular stones, is bare along the centre but overgrown along the sides. It has been little distrubed, except that the chamber has been unroofed. The cairn, aligned ESE to WNW, is c.183ft long (though it may be up to 10ft shorter as the east end is so indefinite) by a maximum width of c. 68ft at 30ft from the east end contracting towards the west, and about 6 to 8ft high.

Near the east end there lies a large flat slab (probably a lintel displaced eastwards from the passage) and to the west of this three large vertical slabs are set roughly parallel to the axis of the cairn, two of them appearing to belong to the N and S walls of a passage or chamber, c. 4ft wide.

A S Henshall 1972.

Barpa nam Feannag, at NF 8567 7202, is as described and planned by Henshall.

Surveyed at 1/10,560.

Visited by OS (N K B) 18 June 1965.


Field Visit (4 August 1914)

Long Cairn, Barpa nam Feannag, Maari.

About 600 yards south of the base of the hill known as Maari is a long cairn, Barpa nam Feannag (“cairn of the hooded crows”), the surface of which has been considerably disturbed. It occupies a prominent position at the eastern end of a broad, flat-topped ridge, steep on its north, south and east boundaries, but sloping gently to Loch nan Geireann, or Geireann Mill Loch as it is more generally called, some 400 yards to the west. Except on the north and east margins the cairn is free of any covering of vegetation or peat. Its main axis lies almost west-north-west and east-south-east (305 mag.), along which it measures 165 feet. It is broader and higher at the eastern end, where it measures 46 feet in breadth and 8 feet in height; at the extreme eastern end it is probably a few feet wider, but at this part the edge of the cairn is obscured, and it is impossible to say whether the end is flat or curved. Some 84 feet from this end it contracts to a width of 21 feet and a height of 2 feet, and the western extension over a length of 81 feet has an average width of 19 feet and maintains a height of about 2 feet. (Fig. 139.)

There is no appearance of a boundary line of large blocks on the edge of the cairn.

Near the centre of the eastern and higher end is a large, flat slab, at least 6 feet in length, 3 feet in breadth and 14 inches thick, having all the appearance of the outer lintel of a passage, but although there is a cavity beneath there is no appearance of walling. At a distance of 5 feet 9 inches from the outside edge of this slab towards the interior of the cairn, but placed at an angle to the south of the medial line, the top of a large slab set on edge, 7 feet 3 inches long and 11 inches thick, protrudes 3 feet 6 inches above the surface of the stones. Some 26 feet north of the centre of the flat slab is a similar stone reclining against the north-eastern edge of the structure and measuring 5 feet in length, 4 feet in breadth and 1 foot 3 inches in thickness.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 4 August 1914.

OS map: North Uist xxxv.

Field Visit (25 September 2010)

This chambered long cairn is situated in open and relatively remote moorland, with its ESE end resting on a natural scarp that forms the leading edge of the underlying knoll, and its tail extending down the gentle slope to the WNW. Overall it measures 50.5m in length, tapering from a maximum of 16.8m in breadth and 1.7m in height on the ESE to 6m and 0.5m respectively on the WNW. The shape of the cairn is obscured by heather and peat, the former encroaching differentially onto the cairn material, and the surface of the latter dipping in along either side, but contrary to Henshall’s plan it is clear that the NNW side at least forms an almost straight line. On the axis of the cairn at the ESE end three large side slabs of a chamber can be seen and though its configuration is not entirely clear, the combined length of chamber and passage is at least 8.6m, measured from the outer edge of a large slab lying horizontally across its line immediately within the ESE margin of the cairn, and presumed to be a lintel; this slab measures at least 1.9m in length by up to 1m in breadth and 0.3m in thickness. Behind it some 0.8m to the WNW, the first of the three upright slabs visible measures 2.1m long by up to 0.25m thick and rises 1m above the cairn. This probably belongs to the SSW wall of the passage or chamber or passage, as does a slab some 1.5m long by 0.2m thick, of which only the very top is visible a further 3.3m into the mound. Of the NNE side of the chamber only the top of a slab 1m in length by 0.15m in thickness can be seen, protruding 0.4m through the cairn material roughly opposite the gap between the other two. Another large block lies on the natural slope just below the NE angle of the cairn and measures 1.7m in length by 1.1m in breadth and 0.4m in thickness.

Visited by RCAHMS (SPH) 25 September 2010


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