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Cairn Irenan

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Cairn Irenan

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 12824

Site Number NH55SE 10

NGR NH 56661 52296

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Killearnan
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH55SE 10 5666 5229.

(NH 5666 5229) Cairn Irenan (Stone Circle) (NR)

OS 6" map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1907)

Carn Urnan (Carn Irenan). Clava passage-grave: the cairn material has been entirely removed. The kerb of large stones is about 42ft in diameter, and is complete except for five stones. The tallest, on the S side, is 4ft high, and the smallest on the N is only 1ft 4ins high. The entrance passage to the SSW is 2ft wide. Two lintels still remain across the passage, somewhat displaced.

The chamber has been oval, 11 x 14ft; the foundation course of upright slabs (1ft 8ins - 6ins high) is almost complete.

There has been a circle of monoliths, about 73ft in diameter, of which only four remain upright, the tallest being 5ft 10ins high.

A S Henshall 1963; V G Childe 1944; A J Beaton 1882.

Cairn Irenan.

NSA 1845.

The remains of this chambered cairn are generally as described above. Nine boulders encircle the cairn, but only four remain standing in situ (A, B, F, and J). Stone 'G' can be discounted as belong to the ring.

Revised at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 21 January 1965.

No change.

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS) 3 March 1989.


Field Visit (June 1979)

Cairn lrenan ( ROS 13) NH 566 522 NH55SE 10

A Clava passage-grave, measuring about 12m in diameter over a kerb of graded boulders, is situated immediately S of Carnurnan farmhouse. It is surrounded by a circle of standing stones, of which four remain upright, four have fallen and a ninth is missing. The oval chamber, which measures 4.3m by 3.4m, is entered from the SW through a passage 4m long and 1 m wide.

RCAHMS 1979, visited June 1979

Woodham 1956, 66-8, no. 1; Henshall 1963-72, i, 343

Archaeological Evaluation (16 September 2019 - 24 September 2019)

NH 5665 5231 A programme of archaeological work including scheduled monument protection, photographic recording and evaluation by trial trenching was carried out in advance of the development of a new house and associated works. The work took place 16-24 September 2019.

Fourteen of the 19 evaluation trenches were archaeologically sterile and a further two revealed features of 20th-century date. Trenches 7 and 11, both located on the N side of the scheduled area, revealed a series of isolated and shallow-cut soil features that produced charcoal fragments but no dating evidence. Trench 13, located adjacent and to the SE of the scheduled area, revealed the remains of a substantial masonry structure of uncertain function, possibly an animal shed or store, which is indicated on the 1st Edition OS map. The trench also revealed a series of shallow linear and localised cut soil features, one of which produced modern finds. It was noted that the other, undated, soil features recorded in the trench could conceivably be associated with prehistoric activity relating to the scheduled monument, although the majority of the soil features were deemed more likely to be associated with post medieval settlement and related activity.

Report: Highland HER and NRHE

Funder: Private individual

Andrew Young - Highland Archaeology Services Limited

(Source: DES Vol 20)

OASIS ID: highland4-387650

Watching Brief (13 January 2021 - 12 April 2021)

NH 56650 52310 A watching brief was undertaken during the ground work stages of development at Cairnurenan for a new house and associated services. The site is located at the SW end of the Black Isle to the NE of Muir of Ord and incorporates the remains of a large prehistoric passage-grave ring-cairn, Cairn Irenan (Canmore ID: 12824), of probable Bronze Age date, which is a Scheduled Monument (SM3122). This final stage of archaeological fieldwork for the development included monitoring during topsoil stripping, the excavation of a service trench for the new build and the demolition of an existing croft house. It followed on from earlier stages of archaeological work including documentary research and a programme of standing building recording and intrusive trial trenching, the results of the latter being essentially negative.

Archive: NRHE and Highland HER

Funder: Private individual

Andrew Young – Highland Archaeology Services

(Source: DES Vol 22)


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