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Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Achaidh

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Rivra; Achu; Cairn Of The Red Dog

Canmore ID 13993

Site Number NH69SE 7

NGR NH 6715 9116

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Creich (Sutherland)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NH69SE 7 6715 9116.

(NH 6715 9116) Chambered Cairn (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1971)

Achaidh: A short horned cairn of Orkney-Cromarty type, with a polygonal chamber. Excavated by Curle in 1909, the cairn stands in an area of recently-cut woodland. Before excavation the cairn had been somewhat disturbed but still stood 8ft high. It has been further robbed, especially on the N side, and now reaches a maximum height of only 5ft behind the chamber. Then, as now, the edges of the cairn were indefinite, but there can be little doubt that there are horns projecting to the ENE, SE, WSW and NW for about 16ft and measuring about 20ft across their bases. The diameter of the cairn between the horns N-S is 53ft and E-W 50ft.

On excavation, the chamber was found to contain a layer of sand, over a layer of black oil which covered the flagged floor. From the sand-layer came a flint scraper (now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland [NMAS] - Accession no: EO 338) and a rim-sherd (EO 339), probably Iron Age. In or on the sand-layer was an adult unburnt skeleton with a few partially burnt fragments of bone, not certainly human.

A O Curle 1910; RCAHMS 1911; A S Henshall 1963, visited 4 May 1957.

This chambered cairn is as described above. It measures some 17.0m N-S by 16.0 m transversely with indications of horns on the W and E sides. The cairn consists of a substantial mound of stones, maximum height about 1.7m. The well-defined chamber measures about 2.8m by 2.1m and the inner end of the passage leading to the chamber can be seen below a large lintel. The lintel covering the outer end of the passage was not located.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (W D J) 25 May 1963.

A chambered cairn, as described and planned.

Revised at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (N K B) 19 September 1980.

This cairn is as previously described. Considerable disturbance has been caused by stone robbing and excavation but none of this appears to be recent.

S Carter and J Wordsworth (Headland Archaeology) 5 February 1997; NMRS, MS/899/25, no.12

NH 66 90 (centre) A short-notice forestry survey was undertaken by Headland Archaeology Ltd over roughly 7.5sq km of land to the W of Spinningdale on the northern shore of the Dornoch Firth. A total of 28 features or groups of features of archaeological interest were recorded, 19 of which had previously been noted. The majority are post-medieval settlement sites (buildings, farmsteads and settlement sites) recorded first by the OS in 1874.

NH 6715 9116 Chambered cairn. (NMRS NH69SE 7)

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

S Carter 1997

Scrub clearance (by Resurgam! Archaeology) in September-October 2000 revealed quarrying, as previously noted. A mound of large stones in the central part of the chamber presumably represents the missing portions of the upper corbelling, and obscures the flagged floor that was exposed by Curle. The horns to the SW and E can be traced in the heather, while the 'quarry pit' to the N appears to define two corresponding features.

The monument commands a view only down the Spinningdale Glen [to the SE], and is not intervisible with any other chambered cairn.

[Proposals for display are appended].

Sponsors: The Woodland Trust.

NMRS, MS/1065/1.


Field Visit (23 July 1909)

82. Chambered Cairn, Achaidh.

Some 30 yards NE. of the last, and nearer the road, is another cairn, which has been excavated. Its general appearance suggests that it is of horned character, but this can only be definitely ascertained after the stones obscuring its out­ line have been cleared away. The diameter across the centre between the supposed horns from N. to S. is 53' and from E. to W. 50'. The horns appear to project for some 16' and to be some 20' broad at the base. In the centre of the E. or ESE. side the top of a large lintel stone in situ, 6' 4" long, is visible, apparently covering the entrance to the passage. At 12' inwards from this stone is another lintel stone, at the entrance to the chamber. It is triangular in section, 6' in length, 2' across the base, and 2' deep. It has originally rested on two jambs, 3' l" and 2' 6" in length respectively, about 2' apart, and 4' high, but the jamb on the S. side being lower than that opposite, the height of the latter has been supplemented with stones. From this insecure bed the lintel has shifted somewhat. The main axis of the chamber is ESE. and WNW. It is almost rectangular in form, except at the back, where building fills the angles between the sides and the back slab. The extreme length is 8' 9", the extreme breadth 7'. The walls are formed of seven large slabs, two on t:lither side of the chamber, one forming the back wall, and one on either side of the entrance to support the lintel. The spaces between the edges of the slabs are filled with well-laid horizontal building. The height of the chamber to the remaining portion of the overlapping roof is 6' 9" and to the point from which the roof begins to converge 4' 6". The height of the cairn, previous to excavation, was some 8'. The floor of the chamber is paved with flags over its greater extent, laid on the old natural surface. There were found, on excavation, the remains of a single unburnt interment, a short-tanged flint scraper, and a fragment, some 2" square, of darkish pottery, of fine texture, part of a round vessel with a slightly everted lip, ornamented with impressions of a finger nail. The flint and fragment of pottery are preserved in the National Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh.

See Antiquaries, xliv. p. 104 (illus.).

OS 6-inch map, Sutherland, Sheet cxi.

RCAHMS 1911, visited (AOC) 23rd July 1909.


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