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West Grange Of Conon

Long Cist(S) (Early Medieval), Souterrain (Prehistoric), Amphora(S) (Roman), Armlet (Bronze)

Site Name West Grange Of Conon

Classification Long Cist(S) (Early Medieval), Souterrain (Prehistoric), Amphora(S) (Roman), Armlet (Bronze)

Alternative Name(s) Cairnconon

Canmore ID 34614

Site Number NO54NE 12

NGR NO 57315 45060

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Arbroath And St Vigeans
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

Archaeology Notes

NO54NE 12 57315 45060

(NO 5732 4505) Cave (NR) (Site of Supposed Ancient

Subterraneous Dwelling) (NAT)

OS 6" map, Forfarshire and Angus, 2nd ed., (1926)

(Name NO 575 450) Souterrain (NR) (No detail)

(NO 5725 4507) Long Cists found 1861 (NAT)

OS 6" map, (1971)

A partially-rock-cut souterrain discovered during agricultural operations in the spring of 1859 and excavated by Jervise (1863) in 1860 and 1861.

It consists of a main passage leading to a "beehive" chamber, and a narrow entrance passage with an unusual subsidiary passage leading to a second entrance. To the north of the souterrain was a circular area of rough paving c.40' in diameter, obviously the remains of a surface structure such as occur at Ardestie (NO53SW 1) and Carlungie I

(NO53NW 14).

A cluster of six long-cists was found to the NW of the main passage - the only known instance of burials which can be almost certainly associated with the souterrain builders.

The most interesting of the numerous finds from the excavation - all donated to National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS HD 35-60; EQ 103-7) - were Roman amphora fragments from above the main passage, and a bronze spiral armlet from the paved area.

A Jervise 1863; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1863; F T Wainwright (ed.); F T Wainwright 1963.

Inspection through a hole in the ground (too small for entry) showed the corbelled chamber which appeared to be about 1.2m high. Except shallow depressions denoting the passages, no other parts of the souterrain are visible.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 13 May 1966.

As well as the amphora fragments which may date from the 2nd century AD, a possibly Roman bronze needle was found.

A S Robertson 1970.

NO 5732 4505 As part of the Edinburgh University Summer Field School in September 2000, a series of trenches were placed at the site of a souterrain (NMRS NO54NE 12). The souterrain had been excavated and subsequently backfilled by A Jervise in 1859.

The work aimed to identify the exact position of the souterrain, graves and associated paving described by Jervise (PSAS 4, 1860-62, 492-99) and to assess their condition. A programme of geophysics was conducted prior to excavation, but the results proved ambiguous due to the underlying bedrock. The souterrain had been cut into the upper slope of a rocky hillcrest. Topsoil in the area was shallow and contained a high percentage of eroding bedrock.

The souterrain itself was exposed in excellent condition in three trenches, as a long hooked chamber of thick drystone walls with an entrance facing NW. The roofing slabs had been removed and the chamber infilled with loose stones. Despite much recent alteration to the surrounding subsoil surface by ploughing, the walls of the souterrain had not been damaged and seemed in a stable condition. Vegetation was removed from around the protruding top of a corbelled beehive chamber situated at the end of a small passage to the NE of the main souterrain chamber. The lintel and doorway to this passage could be partially seen through loosely backfilled stones in the main chamber. Two areas of 'paving' identified by Jervise proved to be natural bedrock platforms. In two places narrow trenches had been cut through the bedrock and backfilled with loose stones. It is unclear whether these features date to the 1859 excavation or are associated with the souterrain.

Trenching was curtailed due to a request by the landowner to minimise disturbance to the field surface, with the result that the graves were not identified and are presumed to lie outwith the excavated areas. It may be that plough disturbance has now removed any trace of the graves. To the SE of the souterrain a much disturbed area showed evidence of two slots that had been partially cut into the bedrock and partially built up with stone. These appear to represent substantial structural traces towards the crest of the hill lying above the souterrain. No datable artefacts were recovered, but two small agate 'marbles' similar to those found by Jervise around the graves were retrieved from the bedrock surface around these slots.

Report to be lodged with the NMRS (MS/1081/30)

Sponsors: Historic Scotland, University of Edinburgh.

K Cameron 2001


Field Visit (March 1978)

West Grange of Conon NO 573 450 NO54NE 12

The remains of a souterrain and what was probably an associated circular hut were found 500m NW of West Grange of Canon. Finds from the excavations in 1859 were deposited in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. A circular corbelled chamber, which was linked to the main passage, is still intact.

RCAHMS 1978, visited March 1978

(Jervise 1862; Wainwright 1963, 177-80)

Note (1978)

West Grange of Conon NO 572 450 NO54NE 12

The remains of six long cists were found NW of the souterrain. A small jet ring and some quartzite pebbles from the graves are now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland.


(Jervise 1862, 497)


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