MHG1639 - Burial - Stain, Keiss


Site of a possible early Iron Age burial.

Type and Period (1)

  • BURIAL (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A disturbed inhumation burial at Stain, near Keiss. It may be part of the wider area of burials detailed in MHG411.

A possibly Early Iron Age, uncisted skeleton was found and investigated in 1981 at Stain, near Keiss. The only significant find was a simple bronze ring. Though there was no trace of cairn nor cist, it is possible that the grave was covered by a low sand mound which was located, in very reduced form, underlying the topsoil. <1>

The inhumation discovered by Miss Batey was located at ND 3447 6048; the excavation has been back-filled and there is no definite evidence of a covering cairn. No other burials have been found in the area in recent years.
Visited by OS 23 August 1982.

An account of the site was subsequently published. In 1981, two deep field drains running roughly E-W through this ridge had been recut; the northern one, at a point approximately 50 m SW of Stain Cottage, towards the northern extremity of the sand ridge, showed traces of scattered femur and human rib fragments. Initially it was suspected that a second body was represented by long bones found 2 m inland along the ditch, but on investigation these were revealed to be part of the same skeleton. Fragments of bone were recovered from the ditch upcast 5 m NE of the ditch edge, also probably from the same inhumation.

The area of excavation was limited to 1-5 by 1-5 m immediately behind the bulk of the revealed skeletal material at the ditch edge; the skeleton was itself actually cut through by the ditch. Despite the fragmentary nature of the deposit, it was possible to see that the head end of the body had been to the NW and the feet to the SE. The entire deposit was disturbed, both in recent times, and also in antiquity, and the only articulated bones remaining in position were the right arm and hand, overlying the right femur. The body seemed to lie on its back with the right hand placed on the right hip. This articulated portion of the skeleton lay in a small hollow in the natural subsoil, which could never have been intended to take the complete skeleton; a few centimetres to the SW, a small rectangular hollow contained fragments of mandible and rib. These features are the only remaining indicators of a cut for the deposition of the body which, due to the very disturbed nature of the deposit, it was not possible to trace elsewhere. At the time of excavation, a light orange sand overlying the gravel seemed to suggest the original presence of an overlying sand mound, now badly reduced, sealing the grave deposit.

Other differences may be noted when trying to compare this later grave with those found by Laing (see MHG411): the nature of the deposition is rather different, lacking both cist and cairn and also in being of a slightly differing alignment, NW-SE as opposed to N-S or NE-SW. <2>

For results of the Full Caithness Coastal Survey see also <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred ND 3448 6047 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND36SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (1)

  • RING (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (2)

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