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Cnoc Freiceadain

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Cnoc Freiceadain

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Canmore ID 7831

Site Number ND06NW 10

NGR ND 01326 65425

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

ND06NW 10 01326 65425

(ND 0133 6542) Standing Stones (NR)

OS 6" map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1907)

This chambered cairn is 220ft long with two horns at the NE end projecting an additional 18ft and 30ft. A possible horn at the SW end projects 16ft. The SW end resembles a round flat-topped steep-sided cairn 8ft high and 53ft wide; from thence to the NE end the cairn is about 35ft wide and 3 to 4ft high. Stones projecting from the cairn suggest a peristalith, a chamber, and cists or other structures (A S Henshall 1963), and these probably account for the OS publication (RCAHMS 1911).

RCAHMS 1911; A S Henshall 1963.

This turf-covered long cairn is generally as described above, but there is now no trace of the horn at the SW end.

Resurveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 18 November 1964.

(ND 0133 6542) Long Cairn (NR)

OS 6" map, (1969)

No change to the previous field report.

Visited by OS (J B) 8 August 1981.


Publication Account (1995)

Two impressively long cairns of stone, now both grass-grown, are set at right angles to each other on top of the hill. For much of their length the mounds are low, but the south cairn has higher mounds at both ends, and the north cairn has a round mound at the south end. These three prominent humps clearly provided the name Na Tri Shean (the three fairy mounds) now applied only to the south cairn. It is probable that three separate round chambered cairns were incorporated into two later long structures, the north cairn being given an unusual northeast-southwest alignment to fit it onto the crest of the hill. Low horns can be seen at both ends of the south cairn, and at the north end of the north cairn, defining rectangular forecourts. Neither cairn has been excavated.

The south cairn seems to be virtually intact, and at 71m long is one of the longest of its type. There is probably a chamber under the round mounds at either end, and two tilted slabs at the east end may be collapsed capstones from the roof of one chamber. The north cairn at 67m is nearly as long, but the body of this cairn has been extensively disturbed down the centre. As well as a presumed chamber at the south end, some projecting slabs suggest another at the northern end. A few isolated slabs near the centre of this cairn may belong to later cist burials inserted into the existing mound. From the top of Cnoc Freiceadain, the site of two of the oldest monuments in Caithness, one looks down on one of the newest, Dounreay Atomic Power Station, and there are extensive views from this hill across much of Caithness and Orkney.

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


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