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Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Site Name Dunbeath

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Achnagoul; Burn Of Houstry

Canmore ID 8136

Site Number ND13SE 2

NGR ND 1568 3247

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND13SE 2 1568 3247

(ND 1568 3247) Burial Chamber (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1979)

An Orkney-Cromarty, Camster type, probably round chambered cairn. It has been almost entirely removed, but the edge can be traced in the SW quadrant and suggests an original diameter of 60 to 70ft. Six large upright slabs indicate the position and plan of the chamber. The entrance has been from the SSE, the outer end probably being marked by a small slab 10ft within the apparent cairn edge. The outer chamber was 5ft long, the centre one about 9 by 7ft; nothing remains of the inner chamber.

RCAHMS 1911; A S Henshall 1963.

All that remains of this cairn are the six stones of the chamber, and the seventh at the entrance to the passage, as described and planned by Henshall (1963).

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 13 March 1968.

No change to the previous reports.

Visited by OS (JM) 20 October 1982.

The last remains of the cairn are at 95m OD, in a field of pasture above the Burn of Houstry. The edge of the cairn is just discernible round the SW quadrant and suggests an original diameter of roughly 21m. The slight flattening of the S and W sides is probably due to former ploughing rather than a reflection of a heel-shaped plan. The small amount of cairn material remaining is turf-covered and on the other sides merges with the slope of the low knoll on which the cairn was built. The W side of the cairn is crossed by a wall against the W side of which is a pile of field-gathered stones.

Within the cairn is a group of upright slabs belonging to a chamber planned on a SSE to NNW axis. About 3m from the S edge of the cairn is a slab 0.8m long, 0.3m thick and 0.55m high. This has presumably been a portal stone on the W side of the entrance to the passage. A pair of slabs 2.85m to the N evidently formed the portal between the passage and chamber. The slabs are 0.7m apart, 1 and 1.1m long, 0.4 and 0.3m thick, and 0.7m high. Between them lies a substantial slab 1.2m long, 0.65m in maximum width and 0.2m thick, probably a displaced lintel. A pair of inner portal stones is 1.75m further N. The slabs are 0.65m apart, 0.95 and 1.1m long, 0.5 and 0.25m thick, and 1.6 and 0.85m high. The northernmost slab of the group is almost certainly the back-slab of the chamber as its E end terminates on the axis and possibly extends further E below the turf. The slab, which leans slightly outwards, is 1.1m long, 0.2m thick and 0.35m high. A sixth slab has formed part of the W wall of the main chamber. This slab is 0.8m long, 0.4m thick and 0.8m high. The side-slab is only 0.3m from the adjacent transverse slab but 1.2m from the back-slab. The length of the main chamber from the E end of the tall W transverse slab is 2.5m.

J L Davidson and A S Henshall 1991, visited 4 September 1986.


Field Visit (August 1997)

This cairn is as described by Davidson and Henshall (1991) and the position of the chamber was resurveyed for the OS 1:2500 revision programme.

Visited by RCAHMS (SH), August 1997.


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