Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

All our staffed properties, sites and offices, including the HES Archives and Library, are currently closed, but we’re working on plans to gradually reopen. In the meantime, you can access our services online. Find out more.

Coille Na Borgie South

Chambered Cairn(S) (Neolithic)

Site Name Coille Na Borgie South

Classification Chambered Cairn(S) (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Achcoillenaborgie; Lochan Duinte

Canmore ID 6232

Site Number NC75NW 3

NGR NC 71543 59000

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Farr
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NC75NW 3 715 590.

('A': NC 7152 5908 and 'B': NC 7152 5905 and 'C': NC 7154 5900)

Horned Cairns (NR) ('A' and 'B' are shown as one).

OS 6" map, (1964)

The remains of three horned chambered cairns, two of which 'A' and 'B', were formerly thought to form one long, horned cairn (Henshall 1963) similar to 'C' but with a polygonal as opposed to a Camster - type chamber. They are now considered to be two separate cairns, set back to back on the same axis, and only 6 feet apart, and are therefore comparable with the Kimbrace Hill Long Cairn (NC82NE 3) (Henshall 1972). 'A' which may have been short trapezoidal in plan is ruinous and of bare stones now reaching a height of about 5 feet. It has a deep north-facing forecourt with an orthostatic facade of which only three stones, two of them fallen, survive. A deep spread of cairn material fills the forecourt. Four stones of a peristalith, three of them fallen outwards, are visible on the west side. The east side is fairly well-defined except that it almost fades away towards the NE corner. Of the axial chamber only the tips of two orthostats are visible. There is no sign of robbing at the southern end.

'B' is trapezoidal, but 10 feet narrower than 'A', their west sides being in line. It appears to have a south- facing, crescentric, orthostatic facade, and shows little sign of robbing except at the NE corner, but there has been a spread of cairn material, outwards and downhill along the west side. Three stones of the peristalith are still visible on the west side and two on the east. Two stones, the taller 3 feet high, apparently belong to the facade but the forecourt is full of cairn material which falls neatly to make an almost square end to the cairn. There are wall foundations in front of the facade of 'A' and on the east sides of both 'A' and 'B'.

'C' only 30 feet from 'B' and horned at both ends is assumed to represent a further development of the stage exemplified by 'A' and 'B'. It measures 235 feet, by 62 feet at the high north end and 30 feet at the south. The forecourt on the north appears to have been square rather than crescentric with a facade of upright, pointed stones. The south end has been considerably robbed but is clearly square in plan with a considerable amount of cairn material in the crescentric forecourt. There is a hollow in the profile behind the chamber. The side edges of the cairn are fairly well-defined and generally rise steeply, with the stones of the perstalith some feet within the edges.

This group of three cairns is unique in the north and east of Scotland in the use of orthostatic facades; and the cairn and facade developments probably extended through much of the third millenium.

A S Henshall 1963; 1972; Visited by OS (J L D) 27 April 1960.

As described and planned.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (I S S) 9 July 1971.

No change to previous reports.

Published survey (6") revised.

Visited by OS (J B) 20 July 1977.


Publication Account (1995)

A huge elongated mass of grey stones protrudes through the heather above the road. On closer inspection, there are substantial remains of at least two and probably three long chambered cairns set in line. Best preserved is the south cairn, some 72m long, with traces of somewhat rectilinear forecourts, defined by short horns, at either end. The cairn is widest and highest where the chamber is, and the north forecourt is marked by a series of tall upright slabs, once linked by drystone walling. The chamber and passage are set at an angle to the axis of the cairn, and may have been covered by a small round cairn before the long cairn was built. The chamber is divided into compartments by the usual pairs of upright slabs. Its roof has collapsed, and much of the structure is visible.

The status of the northern structure is uncertain. Sometimes regarded as one cairn, it may in fact be two cairns set in line. There a retraces of a forecourt at either end, and a chamber at the north end now hidden by a horrid modern rubbish dump. All these cairns were cleared out around 1867 when 'only a few bones were found' and 'no account was taken of them'. The use of upright stones in the facades of these cairns is unique in the north of Scotland, though quite usual in the south and west. The use of these cairns may have continued through most of the 3rd millennium BC.

There are several other chambered cairns at Skelpick; particularly impressive is another long horned cairn at NC 722567, some 2.5 km south of Coille na Borgie, and east of the Skelpick Burn.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions