MHG1245 - Chambered Cairn, Latheronwheel House


An Orkney-Cromarty, Camster type, chambered round cairn. The upstanding stones of the chamber are still visible.

Type and Period (1)

  • CHAMBERED ROUND CAIRN (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC)

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Full Description

Chambered Cairn (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1979)

An Orkney-Cromarty, Camster type, round chambered cairn. It appears to have been circular with a diameter of 40 to 50ft, but it has been much robbed, particularly on the W side of the old field dyke which crosses it. The chamber is indicated by the tops of five stones forming two pairs of divisional slabs at the back of the chamber. There is no sign of a passage but this probably entered from the E. A conspicuous upright stone, standing 3 3/4ft above the cairn debris in the SW corner of the inner chamber, though unusual, appears to be an original feature. A S Henshall 1963. <1>

Chambered cairn, as described & planned by Henshall.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 22 March 1968.

No change to previous reports. Visited by OS (J M) 15.10.1982.

The cairn has been built near the edge of a terrace at 60m OD, in an area of grazing which has formerly been cultivated. The cairn looks over the coastal strip, but has rather restricted views to the W and SW. The remains of the cairn have been left in untidy hummocks, now turf-covered or concealed on the W side by thick gorse. The edge of the cairn is fairly clear round the N quadrant, but elsewhere is vague and on the SW has been cut by an old field wall. The diameter has been roughly 18m, and at maximum cairn stands 1.4m high. The ground drops fairly steeply on N and E sides and rises gently on W and S. In centre of cairn five orthostats of a chamber can be seen, arranged transversely to the ENE-WSW axis. There are two pairs of relatively low thin slabs. E pair is set in line; the slabs are 0.65m apart, and measure 1m and 0.7m long by 0.1m thick. The second pair is 1.2m to W, set slightly skew to chamber axis, 0.6m apart. The slabs are 0.75 and 0.85m long, by 0.2 and 0.15m thick. These four slabs project between 0.2 and 0.5m. S slab of first pair and N slab of the second pair have intact upper edges, and the true height of the last slab is about 1.3m. The fifth slab, 1.35m to the W, is an imposing block of stone. At the top edge, which slants down to the S, it is 0.7m long, but due to the concavity of its N edge the stone narrows to 0.5m. It is 0.3m thick, and it is exposed for a height of 1.05m though its true height is about 2m, 0.7m higher than the taller of the intact paired slabs. Immediately to the W a thin slab placed across the chamber axis is 1.35m long but only 0.4m high. Leaning against its N end is another thin slab 1m long, clearly displaced. Interpretation of the chamber plan is difficult as the westernmost slab appears to be deeply set as if it were a back-slab, but the adjacent tall block has the appearance of being the S partner of a pair of portal stones.
Visited 5 September 1986.
J L Davidson and A S Henshall 1991. <2>

Cairn sits on natural knoll on upper terrace to E of road. Can be located by old field line that survives as turf covered bank which abuts it. The upstanding stones of the chamber are still visible (photo). However, it is possible that there is another smaller chamber, starting to collapse open (not previously refered to) some yards to the SE and further along the bank line. The owner had hoped to put a house in this general area. 2 Large test pits have been dug to the SW of the cairn (photos). These show limited topsoil, & poss different ground surfaces. No definite finds on the spoil heaps (open 5 months) although the N heap had a pebble and the S had a large smooth blue-green stone that does not look local. <3>

This cairn was visited as part of the Caithness Coastal Survey in 1982 and was found to be as described previously. Its dimensions are given as 12.2 - 15.25m diameter. <4>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 18479 32106 (20m by 20m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND13SE
Civil Parish LATHERON
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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