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Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Balnaguie

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 13607

Site Number NH65SW 3

NGR NH 62832 54736

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NH65SW 3 6283 5473.

(NH 6283 5473) Cairn (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959)

This is a round cairn with a large Orkney-Cromarty type rectangular chamber of particularly massive slabs.

The cairn has been almost completely removed, leaving a low bank which defines the edge, except in front of the chamber. The surviving stones range from 1'3" to 7' high.

A S Henshall 1963.

A chambered cairn, as described by Henshall. The outer limits measure 26.0m E to W by 28.0m transversely.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (R B) 16 March 1966.


Field Visit (23 August 1943)

This monument stands about 800yds NW of Balnaguie, and can be best approached by a farm-road which branches of the Munlochy-Knockbain road about 900yds N of the same place. Its site is a low tongue of land approximately indicated by the 250ft contour, and falling eastwards towards a small burn. The adjoining ground is under cultivation, but the immediate site of the cairn is waste land bearing a few scattered trees.

The cairn itself has almost entirely disappeared; all that remains of it is a curved mound of stones and turf about 7ft thick, which probably represents the outer margin of its N half, and a small pile of cairn material W of the inner end of the chamber. At least one stone, measuring 2ft 8in by 1ft 9in and perhaps part of a peristalith, emerges from the N part of the mound, while other similar stones may be covered up by the mound in its NE sector. Of the S half of the cairn nothing can be said; the mound could not be traced round the S arc of the circumference, and all details were obscured by bracken. The indications obtained suggest that the cairn measured 88ft over all along the axis of the chamber, which runs 10 degrees S of W and N of E (cf. General plan).

Of the chamber enough is left to give a clear idea of its plan. Its W end if formed by a massive head-slab, Stone A (7ft 2in by 5ft 9in by 2ft 6in), now leaning and somewhat displaced, but shown on the plan as if in its original proper position. The N wall is formed of Stones C and D (4ft 7in by 5ft 3in by 1ft 9in and 3ft 11.5in by 3ft 1in by 2ft respectively), and the S one, in part, by Stone B (5ft 4in—or, externally, 6ft 4in—by 4ft 9in by 1ft 7in) to the E of which, opposite Stone D, there is a gap. The E end is joined by two tranverse stones, Stone E projecting from the S wall and Stone F from the N wall, with a gap of 2ft 7in between them. It is noticeable that Stone F is nearly 2ft lower, at its highest point, than its neighbour D, and that its own inner end is 6in lower than its outer one; while Stone E, measuring only 11in in height at its inner end, is lower still though a comparison of its two ends is impossible owing to the presence of a tree-root. The chamber or cist thus formed measures 9ft 4in along its major axis by 6ft 10in to 7ft 2in transversely. The outer part of the chamber is indicated by two side-slabs 6ft 3in to 6ft 9in apart; of these Stone G, on the S, measures 1ft 8in—or 2ft 10in externally—by 5ft 6in by 1ft 4in and Stone H, on the N, 2ft 6in by 5ft by 2ft 6in. Beyond Stones G and H there are two portal stones—Stone K (3ft 4in by 4ft by 2ft 11in) 4ft NE of Stone H and probably in its original position, and Stone J, 6ft from Stone G and no doubt displaced. The total length of the chamber, from the E face of the end-slab to a transverse line through Stone K, is 21ft. The fact that the curving mound described in the preceding paragraph ends opposite the E end of the chamber suggests that there was an entrance here.

Visited by RCAHMS (AG, VGC) 23 August 1943

Map ref: lxxxix (‘Stone Circle, remains of’)

Field Visit (May 1979)

Balnaguie (ROS 6) NH 628 547 NH65SW 3

The remains of this Orkney-Cromarty cairn are situated 620m NW of Balnaguie farmhouse; most of the cairn material has been removed, but it probably measured about 28m in diameter. There is a two-compartment chamber on the E flanked by two upright stones which may form part of a concave facade.

RCAHMS 1979, visited May 1979

Woodham 1956, 69, no. 5; Henshall 1963-72, i, 336-7


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