MHG13048 - Chambered Cairn, Loch Borralan East


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Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

NC21SE 2 2624 1118.
(NC 2624 1118) Chambered Cairn (NR) OS 6"map, (1966)

Chambered cairn, Orkney-Cromarty group with a polygonal chamber. It is situated on steep moorland hillside at over 550 ft OD, now heather-covered. It has diameter of c40 ft and a height of c8 ft. SE side of mound projects slightly on plan and a spur seems to run to SW for about 14 ft, both features suggesting the presence of horns. However, on N (uphill) side edge is well-defined, without horns although there is enough space between cairn and rise of hillside for them to have been built. The entrance has been from ESE side where two large lintel stones are visible at cairn edge. From chamber it can be seen that passage (and possibly an antechamber) are choked with stones. The passage is c11 ft long. The lintel at its inner end is in place and exposed, resting on a pair of transverse portal stones set 1 ft 9 ins apart, 3 ft 6 ins high above present floor level. The chamber is fully exposed due to removal of roof. It is polygonal, 9 ft long by 5 ft 9 ins wide, and built of four upright stones with neatly laid walling of horizontal slabs between. There is an end-stone facing entrance, and two stones on SW which together with obliquely set portal stones form most the chamber wall on this side. On NE side there is only one stone. Between it and the end-stone is a shallow recess, 4 ft 6 ins wide and 2 ft 6 ins deep, entirely built of masonry and roofed by oversailing slabs at a height of 3 ft 6 ins.
Finds: In Dunrobin Castle Museum, Golspie. 'Several small fragments of unornamented pottery, parts of a single vessel with walls about 1/4 in thick were recovered on excavation. They are coarse in quality, the clay being inmixed with numerous small pieces of quartz and stone. The interior surface is blackened and smooth. (Not found in 1957).'
A S Henshall 1963; RCAHMS 1911. <1>,<2>

A chambered cairn, as described by Miss Henshall.
Visited by OS (G H P) 5 June 1962 and (N K B) 23 June 1980.

NW SUT Local Plan, May 1987: P23/2.36.
J Aitken : 11/06/01.

Surveyed by the Assynt's Hidden Lives project in November 2009. This chambered cairn is situated on a sloping hillside under heather moorland with good views to Cul Mhur to the north-west and over Loch Borralan to the south. The cairn is oval in plan, measuring 18m by 12m, aligned NW-SE, and standing up to 3m in height. There are suggestions of possible horns protruding from south and west edges. The main cairn fabric consists of gathered, rounded rubble
averaging 0.35m across, although the major structural elements are built from angular stone up to 1.5m in length. Several of the larger stones around the SE edge are displaced. A 3-4m long passage is entered from the south-east leading into a chamber measuring approximately 3m by 2m by 1.5m. The collapse of the chamber roof suggests robbing. A very vestigial mound of material extends to the N, suggesting the possibility of an extended ‘tail’.
Detailed survey, including terrain survey, was conducted as phase 2 of fieldwork across this site. <3>

Historic Assynt proposes a targeted excavation of this chambered cairn as part of the Assynt Hidden Lives project. The work would aim to characterise the form of the moument, investigate the material culture and obtain dating material. The excavation would leave the cairn presentable to the visiting public. <4>

Douglas Scott posted photographs of this cairn on the Highland HER Facebook page. They show the sun rising in line with the blocked passage of the cairn at 7:50am on 30 September 2011. He comments that measurements of the cairn showed that the sunlight would have entered the chamber for about a week around the spring and autumn equinoxes. <5>

<1> RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland, 5, No. 14 (Text/Report). SHG2657.

<2> Henshall, A S, 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland, Volume 1, 324, SUT 43; plan, fig. 67 (Text/Publication/Monograph). SHG357.

<3> Cavers, G & Hudson, G, 05/2010, Assynt's Hidden Lives: An archaeological survey of the the parish, 5, p.68; p.55; fig. 50-1 (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG24882.

<4> Historic Assynt, 2010, Highland Leader 2007-2013 Grant Application Form: Historic Assynt (Text/Manuscript). SHG25278.

<5> Highland Council, 2011, Highland HER Facebook page, Douglas Scott, 01/10/2011 (Interactive Resource/Webpage). SHG25262.

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NC 2623 1118 (80m by 80m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NC21SE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish ASSYNT

Finds (1)

  • VESSEL (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (3)

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