MHG2110 - Warehouse East Chambered Cairn


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Type and Period (1)

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

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Full Description

An Orkney-Cromarty type round cairn with a Camster-type chamber, one of group of five cairns known as Cairns of Warehouse, it was excavated by Rhind in 1853 and Anderson in 1865. It is on the skyline of a moorland ridge at 150m OD, somewhat lower than Warehouse South (ND34SW 70) which is 400m to SW. This cairn could have been given a more prominent site by building it on the rocky knoll immediately to W. The rock lies in nearly horizontal strata, and close to cairn it outcrops in several places through thin peat cover. The cairn is covered by turf with many loose slabs exposed. The sides are steep and edges are fairly well defined. It measures about 18m N-S by 16m E-W; it is 2m high on S side, but due to slope of ground it is only 1.2m high on W side. Within cairn several large slabs on edge can be seen set more or less radially; largest, 1.6m long, is shown on plan. It is puzzling that after his brief investigation Anderson gave dimensions of the cairn as only 9 by 7.6m. Presumably he found a wall-face on either side of passage entrance and another about 1.5m behind the chamber; if so it is likely that second wall-face was not part of outer facing of cairn but part of its internal structure. The entrance passage runs from slightly W of N. Anderson found it was 3m long and 0.76m wide. At present E wall is visible for 2.3m, exposed for a height of 0.5m in five courses. A short stretch of W wall can be seen near outer end, and here the passage is barely 0.5m wide. Rhind found both the passage and chamber roofless and filled with stones. Ther was a pair of portal stones at the entry into the chamber, and two pairs of divisional slabs. From Rhind's plan it seems chamber was about 4.2m long, three compartments being about 1.1, 1.2 and 1.75m long. The walls of outer compartment widened from little more than width of the passage to about 1.5m at max. The first pair of divisional slabs were no longer visible in 1865 when chamber was described by Anderson as having two compartments. The short length of E wall of centre compartment shown on1952 plan by Miss Henshall can no longer be seen. At present only inner compartment is visible, the back-slab 4.1m from the existing inner end of the passage. The compartment is 1.75m long by 1.6m wide at max, and there is debris about 0.6m deep on floor. The inner W divisional stone is 0.5m long. 0.1m thick and exposed for a height of 0.6m. W wall is of oversailing masonry, in poor condition and falling away in places, but it still stands to a max height of 0.9m above the debris on slab, but only to,level the floor. The back-slab is 1.1m long, 0.15m thick and 0.5m high above the debris. E wall is partly constructued of a slab on edge set 0.4m from the back-slab. This wall slab is 0.95m long, 0.05m thick but obviously reduced by flaking and exposed for a height of 0.2m. Walling of small slabs remains above its S end and also on the sloping shoulders of the back-slab, but only to level with its top. Two large slabs, probably displaced divisional slabs, lie in the chamber. Rhind found in the inner and centre compartments 'the most insignificant, ... untangible (sic) vestiges of bones', On the W side of the chamber, on either side of the first divisional slab, were two crushed skulls, and he thought the bodies had 'probably stretched along in opposite directions'. Part of a third skull was found beside the first E divisional slab, and part of an upper jaw lay in the passage. All the human remains are now lost.
Visited by A S Henshall 22 6 1952; J L Davidson and A S Henshall 20 9 1985 J Rhind 1854; J Sinclair 1865; J Anderson 1886; RCAHMS 1911; A S Henshall 1963; R J Mercer 1985; J L Davidson and A S Henshall 1991.

See assoc. docs. File (photo).J Aitken : 14/03/02.

Sources/Archives (12)



Grid reference Centred ND 3091 4232 (39m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND34SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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