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Cairn Of Howe

Cairn (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Flat Axehead (Bronze), Polished Axehead (Stone)

Site Name Cairn Of Howe

Classification Cairn (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Flat Axehead (Bronze), Polished Axehead (Stone)

Alternative Name(s) Lower Howe

Canmore ID 7922

Site Number ND06SE 3

NGR ND 0923 6311

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND06SE 3 0923 6311.

A polished stone axe and a flat bronze axe were found in the Cairn of Howe, parish of Thurso, about 1885, by Mr James Swanson. "There is no evidence that they were found together or in connection with the original burial or burials in the cairn. The bronze axe is stated to have been picked out of the wall of the cairn."

The stone axe measures 3 1/4ins by 1 3/4ins across the cutting face, the edges rounded and slightly planed flat, the butt end blunt and flattened.

The bronze axe is 3 3/4ins by 2 1/4ins across the cutting face, tapering to 1ins at the butt. Near the centre of one face is a semi-globular depression about 3/16ins diameter and deep. On the same side are other depressions that seem to be casting flaws. About 1/4ins below the butt on each side are 1/8ins deep cuts made by a saw or very thin file, which do not appear to be contemporary with the original use of the axe.

Both axes were exhibited to the Soc of Antiqs, Edinburgh in 1910 by John Anderson of Millbank Terrace, Thurso.

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1911.

At ND 0923 6311 there is a grass-covered circular mound 28.0m in diameter and 1.7m high which the present owner of Howe (Mr G B Swanston, Thurso) believes to be the Cairn of Howe.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 24 March 1965.

Both axes are in Thurso Museum, with a note that they were found 'in an old barn wall at Lower Howe' near Thurso. A flat axe of unidentifiable type from Lower Howe.

J M Coles 1971.

(ND 0923 6311) Cairn of Howe (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The provenance of the axes (still in Thurso Museum) is disputed. Mr Swanston was contaced once more, and he was uncertain as to the whereabouts of the Cairn of Howe. The mound surveyed by previous OS field investigator appears to be entirely natural.

Visited by OS (NKB) 1 October 1981.

(Flat axe of Migdale type). Single find. Flat axe, length 97mm, butt 20mm, cutting edge 55mm. Thurso.

P K Schmidt and C B Burgess 1981.


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