EHG5912 - Excavation - Battle Moss, Loch of Yarrows



University of Glasgow & University of Cardiff


Aug 2003


Excavations were undertaken by the Universities of Glasgow and Cardiff in August 2003 at Battle Moss multiple stone rows in the Yarrows Loch area and a nearby newly discovered cairn following geophysical surveys (see EHG5911). The stone rows were surveyed as long ago as 1871, and several times subsequently, but along with all similar sites in Caithness and Sutherland, had not yet been subject to excavation. The discovery of a putative cairn immediately to the N of the rows fitted a pattern of association noted at other multiple stone rows in the county. The stone rows consist of eight irregular but parallel rows of 18-21 stones. Excavation focused on a trench that uncovered 17 stones towards the centre of the monument, seven of which were fully excavated. Smaller trenches were placed to establish the full extent of the monument. No evidence was found to suggest the monument continued beyond its current known extent, although several putative stones at the S end of the monument were found to be in situ. No diagnostic finds or datable material were recovered in a secure context. However, initial impressions of the monument are that it may have been built in segments or phases over an unknown period of time. There is strong evidence to suggest that at some point in the development of the monument an additional row was added. The cairn was identified by geophysical survey, 100m to the north of the stone rows and proved to be a probable ring cairn, comprising a low circular cairn around 12m in diameter with a centrally positioned open area. Deposits of cremated bone and beaker pottery were found. A small disc of highly oxidised metal was also recovered. In the western half of the central setting a deposit of Beaker pottery was identified: the sherds recovered appear to constitute two, possibly three, complete but crushed vessels. Several decorated sherds were identified with finger or thumb-nail impressions forming a herringbone design. This pottery was found adjacent to a large, decayed upright slab that could have formed one side of a cist that was destroyed with the subsequent redesigning of the cairn. Other finds from within the central area of the cairn include a small number of lithics - predominantly flake debitage - and charcoal. The exterior of the cairn appears to have been redesigned on a number of occasions, with evidence for possibly two phases of kerbing, and the subsequent enlargement of the monument with the addition of a covering of small angular stones. Two hammerstones were recovered from the top of the pre-cairn surface immediately adjacent to the outer kerb on the W side of the cairn. It is not clear whether the cairn would originally have been much higher than it is now, and it is possible that it may have been a platform rather than a raised cairn. It was intended that the excavation of this monument would continue in a subsequent season. <1> No DSR has been forthcoming. It is anticipated that a published account will be produced at some point [IS-L 13/10/2022].

Sources/Archives (1)



Location Battle Moss, Loch of Yarrows
Grid reference Centred ND 3129 4407 (32m by 136m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND34SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

  • Ring Cairn - Battle Moss (Monument)
  • Stone Alignment - Battle Moss, Loch of Yarrows (Monument)

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Mar 13 2024 4:42PM

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