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Cairns Of Memsie

Cairn(S) (Prehistoric), Cinerary Urn (Bronze Age), Sword (Iron)(Medieval), Unidentified Flint(S) (Flint)(Prehistoric)

Site Name Cairns Of Memsie

Classification Cairn(S) (Prehistoric), Cinerary Urn (Bronze Age), Sword (Iron)(Medieval), Unidentified Flint(S) (Flint)(Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Memsie; Round Cairn Of Memsie

Canmore ID 20804

Site Number NJ96SE 1

NGR NJ 97660 62046

NGR Description NJ 9766 6204 and NJ 975 621

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/20804

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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Rathen
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Banff And Buchan
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ96SE 1 97660 62046 to 975 621

(NJ 9766 6204) Cairn of Memsie (NR).

(NJ 9746 6211 : NJ 9756 6213) Cairns (NR) (Sites of).

OS 6" map (1959).

There were three cairns (each about 100yds in circumference and 40ft high) on Cairn Muir in 1723, spaced about 100yds apart and associated with many small cairns (W Macfarlane 1906; Aucheries 1723).

One of the cairns was dug into at its centre before 1780 (C Cordiner 1780). Only human bones were found though many of the stones at the centre were burnt almost to vitrifaction.

A report in 1790 (Scots Mag 1790) stated that a stone cist, containing bones and earth, a flint 'dart-head', and a "little block of flint, was found" in the large cairn of Memzie, and by 1845 the remaining cairn had been reduced to about 60ft in circumference and c.15ft high.

In the foundation of one of the other cairns was discovered an urn containing calcined bones. There were also found several human skulls, and a short sword with an iron handle. The urn is Medieval (NMAS). According to Gordon, who gave the urn to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) in 1827 (Accession no: EH2), nothing was known to have been found within the urn but human bones were found within one of the two cairns removed. A sword, no longer in existence, was found lying beside the urn. It was "one-edged; the hilt of brass, the blade iron, seventeen inches and a quarter long, one inch and a quarter broad at the guard, from whence it tapers to the point; when found it was enclosed in a wooden scabbard". According to the New Statisitical Account (NSA) the skulls and "a short sword with an iron handle" were presented to the NMAS by Gordon at the same time but the NMAS catalogue records only the accession of the urn "found with part of an iron sword".

The surviving cairn is scheduled - "Cairn of Memsie". (See NJ96SE 14 for tumulus with beaker and sword).

D Wilson 1863; NMAS 1892; J Gordon letter to Soc Antiq Scot, 1827.

This cairn, now under guardianship, is a splendid and well-preserved example of the larger round cairn. It is recorded that a Beaker and a broken leaf-shaped sword were found within it.

R W Feachem 1963.

'Cairn of Memsie' (MoW plaque), 24.0m in diameter and 4.4m high.

No further information regarding the other cairns or finds.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB), 22 January 1969.

Activities

Photographic Survey (May 1930)

Photographs of the Cairn of Memsie, Aberdeenshire, taken in May 1930 possibly by the Office of Works.

Publication Account (1986)

This great cairn of bare stones, 24m in diameter and 4.4m high, is the sole survivor of a cemetery of three mighty cairns that once clustered on the long low ridge of Cairn Muir. Its plain, unadorned, profIle and absence of vegetation are typical of the larger bronzeage cairns of Grampian.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian’, (1986).

Publication Account (1996)

This great cairn of bare stones, 24m in diameter and 4.4m high, is the sole survivor of a cemetery of three mighty ca irns that once clustered on the long low ridge of Cairn Muir. Its plain, unadorned, profile and absence of vegetation are typical of the larger bronze-age cairns of the region.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Aberdeen and North-East Scotland’, (1996).

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