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Harris, Nisabost, Coir Fhinn

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Harris, Nisabost, Coir Fhinn

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Coire Na Feinne

Canmore ID 10533

Site Number NG09NW 5

NGR NG 04721 96623

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NG09NW 5 04721 96623

(NG 0471 9664) Coir' Fhinn (NR)

OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1903)

Coir' Fhinn: A group of large stones represents the remains of a large chamber (17'6 x about 9'3") which has been entered uphill from the ENE(2) The cairn material was apparently removed before the end of the 18th century, (Statistical Account {OSA} 1794) and, to-day, only a few stones lie outside the chamber.

According to tradition, a skull was found below the large stone inside the chamber (one was given to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland [NMAS] in 1860) (PSAS 1862) and a humerus and flower jaw of a human skeleton from a 'cromlech' at Hangabost (F W L Thomas 1863) given later the same year, are presumably also from this site.

Information from MS of A S Henshall's 'Chambered Tombs of Scotland', Vol. 2, 30-31, plan; Statistical Account (OSA) 1794; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1862; F W L Thomas 1863; RCAHMS 1928, visited 1914.

The scant remains of a chambered cairn, known locally as Coire na Feinne, as described and planned by Henshall.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 29 June 1969.


Field Visit (4 June 1914)

Chambered Cairn (denuded), Coir Fhinn, Nisabost.

Barely 1 ½ miles north-north-east of Borve Lodge, on a gently sloping rocky hillside, at the south and higher side of the road to Tarbert, about 400 yards distant from and 40 feet higher than the high-watermark at Traigh Nisabost, is a setting of large stones known as Coir Fhinn, apparently the remains of a chambered cairn. Encroaching on the side of the road, the portable stones of the cairn have probably been used as road metal, and nothing of the mound survives, though a number of large boulders lie strewn about. There are four large slabs on the north-west set on end, two almost touching, and the others 11 and 13 inches apart, varying from 3 feet 4 inches to 4 feet 3 inches in height, and from 2 feet 2 inches to 7 feet 8 inches in width; and other four rather smaller on the south-east, while two long pillars, 6 feet and 8 feet 9 inches in length respectively, lie prostrate towards the east, the outer extremities being 4 feet apart. Within the area enclosed by the upright stones, which is an oval 22 feetlong, is a large irregularly shaped flat slab measuring 6 feet 8 inches long, 7 feet 2 inches broad and 1 foot 5 inches thick at the thickest part, under which a human skull is said to have been found. (Fig. 98.)

RCAHMS 1928, visited 4 June 1914.

OS map: Harris xvii.

Measured Survey (27 July 1923)

RCAHMS surveyed this site by plane-table on 27 July 1923. The resultant plan was redrawn in ink and published at a reduced size in RCAHMS 1928 as Figure 92.

Field Visit (29 September 2008 - 2 October 2008)

Scottish and Southern Energy commissioned SUAT Ltd to undertake an archaeological walkover survey along the route of a 11KV overhead line on Harris. The line, which ran from NG 13 94 near Stockinish to NG 04 83 at Rodel was over 30km long and was due to be refurbished early in 2009. The walkover was carried out between the 29 September and 2 October 2008. The main aim was to look for any new sites or existing sites (from the SMR) that were in danger of being damaged by the proposed refurbishment and to provide mitigation strategies. Over 50 new sites were discovered in the walkover including abandoned houses, field systems and areas of cultivation. Though many of these sites dated from the 19th century, at least three low lying structures could be much earlier. No further archaeological work was recommended, but various mitigation measures were proposed to protect archaeological sites during the engineering works.

Tamlin Barton, SUAT, 2008

Information from OASIS record: suatltd1-49953

Field Visit (8 July 2010)

The remains of this chambered cairn lie in the steeply sloping garden of a house immediately SW of the public road. No trace of any cairn material is visible, but a fallen capstone and six slabs of the chamber’s walls survive, four of the latter forming a rough semi-circle on the WSW and two converging towards what was presumably the mouth of the passage on the ENE. The interior of the chamber measures at least 5.3m in length from ENE to WSW by 3m transversely. The southern of the two slabs converging towards the ENE has slumped outwards, but the mouth of the passage can have been no more than 1m wide. The upper portions of the pointed stones forming the WSW wall of the chamber protrude between 0.6m and 1.1m above the rubble choking the interior, but they are evidently much taller pillars, rising up to 0.5m above the top of the massive side slab on the N, which is itself exposed to a height of 1.5m externally. The fallen capstone, which lies within the interior, is a massive slab measuring about 2.2m across, its upper rounded surface smooth and weathered, and its underside jagged and angular as a result of the way it has been split off a larger outcrop. On the upper surface, close to its edge on the ENE, there are two close-set cupmarks with raised rims, which give the impression of a pair of eyes. The slightly larger of the two cups measures 50mm in diameter by 12mm in depth, and its raised rim is 3mm high and 100mm across overall.

Visited by RCAHMS (SPH) 8 July 2010


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