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North Cairn

Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible)

Site Name North Cairn

Classification Chambered Cairn (Neolithic)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Rose Ness

Canmore ID 9636

Site Number ND59NW 1

NGR ND 5261 9915

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Holm
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Orkney
  • Former County Orkney

Archaeology Notes

ND59NW 1 5261 9915.

(ND 5262 9917) North Cairn (NAT)

OS 6" map (1903)

Chambered Mound (NR)

OS 1" map

The North Cairn is a turf-covered heap of loosely laid small flat slabs about 70ft in diameter, originally conical in profile and still 7ft 6ins high.

"In the centre is a howked hole where there is exposed the top of a slab 2ft 4ins wide, 6ins thick and 2ft 3ins high with its main axis E - W. If this slab is a constructional stone of a chamber set at ground level it is about 7ft high" and probably undisturbed.

A S Henshall 1963, visited 1957

The North Cairn is as described above.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 28 August 1964

Chambered cairn of uncertain type.

J L davidson and A S Henshall 1989


Field Visit (2007)

The eastern 'end' of the mound is presently less steep then the 'west' end suggesting that the orthostat's E/W orientation represents that of the tumulus itself. Its central concavity is about 6.8m by 5, formed of a combination of stones and slabs like that in the general matrix. To the seaward side of this is the orthostat, which projects 67cm at the east end by 60cm at the west, is 70cm long by 17 thick and sits in a kind of pocket of flaky rocks ("slaty material") - which extends for 2.2m to the west of the stone's east end and 1.6m north. All in all this would seem to confirm an E/W orientation for the whole. Amongst the flakes and rock fragments I found a solitary 4cm fragment of semi-burnt bone (despite distinct carination I'm fairly certain it isn't pot because of all the tiny bubbles). This was perhaps extracted by mammals as no further such material was obvious to me.

At the base of the mound to the N/NE is what appears to be a test pit 1 x 0.7 x 0.3 metres, though I am remain undecided as to whether the contents are indicative of the mound's basal material or the old ground surface upon which it was built. In front of them a stone 0.5 x 0.25m projects 7-18cm from the ground. 8m from the east side of the base (in the direction of the cliffs, is a (?satellite) mound. This approximately 5 by 4.2m and less than 0.3m high at the perimeter, containing several stones similar to those in the main mound.

14-16 'pit'

17-19 ?bone fragment

20 ? satellite mound

Visited by Mr Martin Howe, 2007

Orkney Smr Note

Cairn on steep and rugged coast of Rose Ness, dia 70ft, height 7ft 6in, little evidence of careful construction, built of slaty material quarried near shore. Only large stone visible is set on edge in centre of an excavation, and is 2ft 4in broad x 6in thick x 2ft 3in high, set E-W, apparently part of some internal chamber, either mostly destroyed or not completely exposed. [R1]

Information from Orkney SMR [n.d.]


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