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Cist (Bronze Age), Beaker (Bronze Age)

Site Name Achavanich

Classification Cist (Bronze Age), Beaker (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Craig-na-feich

Canmore ID 317871

Site Number ND14SE 20

NGR ND 1783 4333

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Latheron
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness


Excavation (18 February 1987 - 19 February 1987)

A prehistoric burial cist was discovered by a local labourer during rock exctraction for road improvement works when machine excavating at Craig-na-Feich, Achavanich on the 18th of February 1987.

A rescue excavation was carried out by the Highland Regional Council archaeologist, Mr Robert Gourlay, on the 19th of February 1987. The burial consisted of the remains of a young female, aged between 18 and 22 years of age, accompanied by a bovine (cattle) scapula, a ceramic vessel of the beaker style, and three piece of flint including two flakes, and a flint thumbnail scraper.

Information from the Highland Council Historic Environment Record (original archive).

Radiocarbon Dating (1 February 1988 - 24 July 1989)

Between February and July 1989 a radiocarbon sample, presented by Mr Robert Gourlay of the Highland Regional Council, was taken from the collagen of a female human femur associated with the skeletal assemblage discovered in the burial cist at Achavanich, and was processed by the British Museum in London. This work was carried out as a part of a larger beaker dating programme.

The results presented an uncalibrated radiocarbon date of 3700 +- 50 BP (BM-2590).

Information from Ms Maya Hoole 21/06/2017 (Project Manager of the Achavanich Beaker Burial project)

Project (2014 - 2017)

In 2014, a project was set up to carry out new research on the burial found at Achavanich to learn more about the individual buried here, including their life, death and their community.

Numerous new pieces of research were carried out between 2015-2017 including:

- Radiocarbon dating of a sample of human bone and animal bone (carried out by SUERC and funded by the Natural History Museum, London and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

- Isotopic analysis of a second molar and a fragment of rib bone (carried out by Dr Jane Evans and team at the NERC Isotope Geoscience facilities and funded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

- Pollen analysis from the inside and outside of the beaker (carried out by Dr Scott Timpany, University of the Highlands and Islands and funded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

- Ancient DNA analysis of a sample taken from the cranium (funded and carried out by the Natural History Museum, London as a part of a larger research project)

- Bone histology (carried out by Dr Tom Booth)

- Facial reconstruction (carried out by Mr Hew Morrison)

- Osteological anaylsis of the skeletal assemblage (carried out by Angela Boyle, osteologist and burial archaeologist)

- Pottery analysis of the beaker (carried out by Dr Alison Sheridan and Dr Owain Mason)

- Archaeozoological analysis of the cattle scapula (carried out by Sheena Fraser)

- Laser scanning of the beaker, cattle scapula and majority of the human skeletal remains (cranium and beaker carried out by Adeola Fabola from St Andrews University, and human and animal remains by Josie Wallace and Xiangjun Liu, from the University of Edinburgh)

Information from Ms Maya Hoole (21/06/2017) project manager of the Achavanich Beaker burial project

Radiocarbon Dating (25 January 2017 - 1 June 2017)

Two radiocarbon dating samples were taken and processed by SUERC in 2017. The first sample (funded by The Natural History Museum, London) was taken from a fragment of human bone (right tibia). The second sample (funded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland) was taken from the bovine (cattle) scapula.

The results of the first sample were as follows:

SUERC-71005 3827+-33 BP, 2460-2140 cal BC at 95.4% probability.

The results of the second sample were as follows:

SUERC-73443 3829+-32 BP, 2460 - 2150 cal BC at 95.4% probability.

Information from Ms Maya Hoole (21/06/2017) project manager, the Achavanich Beaker Burial project.


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