MHG1809 - Camster Long Chambered Cairn


An Orkney-Cromarty type long chambered cairn. One of the group of three cairns known as 'The Grey Cairns of Camster.'

Type and Period (1)

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

Protected Status

Full Description

An Orkney-Cromarty type, long, horned cairn, 195' NE-SW with two lateral, tripartite, chambers, which give name to their type. One of the group of three cairns known as 'The Grey Cairns of Camster.' (See also ND24SE 16 & 17)
Excavation by Anderson and Shearer in 1886 established that the cairn was bounded by a 6' high double-faced wall, while further excavation by Corcoran in 1971 and Masters in 1978-80 proved that is chambers belonged to two chambered round cairns, each encircled by a wall, which had been incorporated in the long cairn. (cf Mid Gleniorn 1: NX16SE 14). Cairn was restored after excavation.
Surveyed at 1:10,000.
A S Henshall 1963; Name Book 1872; Current Archaeology 1971; J Anderson 1886; RCAHMS 1911; L J Masters 1978 and 1980. <1> <2> <3> <4> <5> <6> <7>

The cairn was Scheduled in 1934 together with the chambered round cairn to the southeast (see MHG1816).

East Caithness Local Plan, May 1987: P31/2.52. Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites.
POLICY - In considering development proposals, the Council will safeguard Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Important Archaeological Sites insofar as this is compatible with their aim of achieving a sound employment base for the local population.
J Aitken : 22/05/01.

Both cairns have been reconstructed to allow public access, duck boards to sites from road. Grazing regime immediately around the two allows them to predominate in the landscape. <8>

The Scheduling was amended by Historic Environment Scotland in 2017 to better reflect the monuments and to add a second cairn further to the south (see MHG1817). <9>

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG3914.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG3915.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG4014.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph). SHG4015.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG4357.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG4358.

Untitled Source (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG4359.

Anderson, J, 1866-68, 'On the horned cairns of Caithness, their structural arrangement, contents of chambers, &c.', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 7 1866-8, p.480-512, 294, 485-7, 498 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1326.

Anderson, J, 1869, 'On the horned cairns of Caithness', Mem Anthrop Soc London Vol. 3 1867-9, p.266-73, 221-25 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1325.

Feachem, R W, 1963, A Guide to Prehistoric Scotland, 43 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2187.

Cruden, S, 1967, 'Camster Long Cairn, Caithness', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1967, p.56, 56 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG394.

Close-Brooks, J, 1986, Exploring Scotland's Heritage: The Highlands, 164-5, No. 93 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2053.

Davidson, JL and Henshall, A S, 1991, The chambered cairns of Caithness: an inventory of the structures and their contents, 96-102, no. 12; plan (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2115.

<1> Henshall, A S, 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland, Volume 1, 262-3, 265, CAT 12; plan, fig. 39 (Text/Publication/Monograph). SHG357.

<2> Ordnance Survey, Object Name Books of the Ordnance Survey, Book No. 13, 234 (Text/Publication/Monograph). SHG3343.

<3> Current Archaeology, 1971-2, Round up: excavations 1971, 132 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1454.

<4> Anderson, J, 1886, Scotland in pagan times: the bronze and stone ages: the Rhind lectures in archaeology for 1882, Vol. 1, 130 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG1898.

<5> 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, 184, No. 565 (Text/Report). SHG2657.

<6> Masters, L J, 1978, Camster, Caithness District, Highland Region. ND 260 442, Long chamber cairn, 453-4, 459 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG396.

<7> Masters, L J, 1980, Camster (Wick p) Long chamber cairn, 17 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG393.

<8> White, H, Comment by Hilary White, HC Archaeologist, 09/2002 (Verbal Communication). SHG23635.

<9> Historic Environment Scotland, 2017, Amended entry in the Schedule of Monuments: SM90056 Grey Cairns of Camster (Text/Designation Notification/Scheduled Monument). SHG27816.

Sources/Archives (22)



Grid reference Centred ND 2601 4420 (84m by 99m)
Map sheet ND24SE
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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