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Skye, Beinn Na Caillich

Chambered Cairn(S) (Neolithic)(Possible)

Site Name Skye, Beinn Na Caillich

Classification Chambered Cairn(S) (Neolithic)(Possible)

Canmore ID 11596

Site Number NG62SW 2

NGR NG 6291 2379

NGR Description NG 6291 2379 and 6291 2377

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Strath
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Skye And Lochalsh
  • Former County Inverness-shire


Field Visit (20 June 1921)

Chambered Cairn and Indefinite Remains at foot of Beinn na Caillich.

On boggy ground at the foot of Beinn na Caillich, on its east side, are the much-scattered remains of a chambered cairn and an adjoining structure of indeterminate character which may possibly represent a much broken circle or the remnants of a second cairn. The chambered cairn has apparently been of a somewhat oval form, with its longer axis, approximately 28 feet, lying due N. and S.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 20 June 1921.

OS map: Skye xlvi (unnoted).

Desk Based Assessment (1972)

NG62SW 2 6291 2379 and 6291 2377

(NG 6291 2377 and NG 6291 2379) Chambered Cairns (NR)

OS 6"map, (1967)

Although this site was interpreted as one or possibly two chambered cairns by the RCAHMS, Miss Henshall found the site difficult to interpret and questions its funerary character.

The site lies on top of a gentle rise at about 50' OD on undulating moorland.

"There is a setting of stones forming about a third of the west side of a circle which would have a diameter of about 30' if complete; its greatest N-S measurement is 23'. The stones are thin slabs 4" - 5" thick, up to 3'6" long, set on their long sides and projecting up to 2' above the turf. The stones have probably been reduced in size due to natural fracturing as the stone readily flakes away. Within this setting, which might be interpreted as the kerb of a cairn, there is a rise of about 1' above ground level and the grass grows greener, but except for this and a number of boulders lying about the site, there is no sign of cairn material. This is curious as there is no obvious reason for removing it.

Inside the 'kerb' there is a horse-shoe setting of five similar slabs, just visible except for two on the S side which project 1'2" due to some peat on their N side having been removed. The enclosed area is 7' wide by 7'6" long, open on the E end. On this side, 14' from the W end of the setting, is a larger stone, set on end, 2'8" high. This might be regarded as a portal stone except that it is set opposite the centre of the open end of the horst-shoe setting, and there is a low thin slab projecting westwards from the middle of its W face. E of this there lie a number of flat slabs and boulders, but they do not suggest the form of the original structure.

A stone is set radially to the kerb, 15'8" to the N. It is on its long edge, 4'11" long and 2'2" high. 28' S of the kerb there is a circular setting of small boulders, 6'6" across inside, and part of another concentric setting can be traced 6' outside these."

(RCAHMS 1928, visited 1921; A S Henshall 1972, visited 1962).

Archaeological Evaluation (October 2016 - June 2017)

NG 629 237 This site, previously recorded as two chambered cairns (RCAHMS, 1928), was re-evaluated during the period October 2016 to June 2017. Five separate structures have now been identified.

NG 62906 23775 A chambered cairn, aligned with the summit of Beinn na Caillich to the W, with the entrance facing E to Broadford Bay. The peristalith can be traced for most of the circumference of a circle 6.8m in diameter. The kerb-stones of the peristalith are mostly composed of a type of shale or mudstone (the underlying geology) that has undergone significant weathering, so that only in a couple of places do they now project above ground level. The arc of kerb-stones leads on the E side to a solitary portal stone. There is a large stone lying nearby that may have been the second portal stone, though its shape is more suggestive of a capstone. From the portal stone there is evidence of one side of a short passage in the form of a low and heavily weathered orthostat projecting westwards. Between the passage and the chamber lies an oblong stone that may have been the lintel. The passage and chamber have a combined length of 6.3m. The chamber has a maximum width of 2.3m. The large boulders that formed the base of the cairn are still in situ (just inside the peristalith), but the cairn itself seems to have collapsed into the chamber, with some material spilling out beyond the peristalith. It also seems likely that material from the cairn has been used in the construction of the surrounding monuments. The entrance appears to have been deliberately blocked, but whether this was carried out by the last users of the tomb or at some later date is unclear.

NG 62908 23762 The second of the previously recorded chambered cairns and very similar in terms of size and alignment.

NG 62910 23769 A third chambered cairn, smaller than the other two, and with no sign of a peristalith.

NG 62913 23781 A group of boulders and slabs that is probably the remains of another chambered cairn.

NG 62905 23782 A solitary standing stone was recorded here by previous visitors. When the area was cleared of vegetation, this stone was found to be sitting within a cistlike structure, surrounded by large cobbles. It seems likely that this is a Bronze Age cist burial and the ‘standing stone’ is the displaced capstone of the cist.

Archive: Highland HER

Steve Terry and Martin Wildgoose

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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