MHG2187 - Stone Alignment - Battle Moss, Loch of Yarrows


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Type and Period (1)

  • STONE ALIGNMENT (Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 1501 BC)

Protected Status

Full Description

Stone Rows (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

Eight stone rows, six of which are almost complete for a distance of about 138ft. The row shown on the OS map as 384ft long has been almost completely eradicated by cultivation although the remaining fragments are scattered over a distance of 304ft.
The rows are aligned almost due north and south and are generally parallel, 5 to 7ft 8ins apart. The stones, slabs about 3ins thick, face across the rows and are up to 1ft high.
RCAHMS 1911; J Anderson 1886.

The site was Scheduled in 1934.

Mainly as described by the Commission. Only one stone remains of the most easterly row and the longest row now measures c40m.
Resurveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (R L) 26 April 1967.

Provisional Consent - Letter received from HS, dated 23/10/02. See assoc. docs. File.
J Aitken : 20/02/03

Excavation was undertaken by the Universities of Glasgow and Cardiff in August 2003 at Battle Moss multiple stone rows and a nearby newly discovered cairn in the Yarrows Loch area (MHG61688). The stone rows were surveyed as long ago as 1871, and several times subsequently, but along with all similar sites in Caithness and Sutherland, had not yet been subject to excavation. The discovery of a putative cairn immediately to the N of the rows fitted a pattern of association noted at other multiple stone rows in the county. The stone rows consist of eight irregular but parallel rows of 18-21 stones.

After the removal of the topsoil, apparent gaps in the rows were found to be where stones had fallen over in prehistory and had been sealed by peat growth. Excavation focused on a trench that uncovered 17 stones towards the centre of the monument, seven of which were fully excavated. In each case the same sequence of stone erection seems to have occurred: a narrow shallow slot was dug into the very compact boulder clay subsoil; the slot was lined with clay and/or turf, on which the flat stone was placed and held upright by packing stones jammed in on either side; and a layer, consisting of redeposited natural and charcoal flecking, seems to have been spread around the stones at or soon after erection to form a low platform.

Smaller trenches were placed to establish the full extent of the monument. No evidence was found to suggest the monument continued beyond its current known extent, although several putative stones at the S end of the monument were found to be in situ. Attempts to find evidence for one of the eight rows shown as continuing for some distance to the N, in a survey by Henry Dryden of 1871, were fruitless.

No diagnostic finds or datable material were recovered in a secure context. However, initial impressions of the monument are that it may have been built in segments or phases over an unknown period of time. There is strong evidence to suggest that at some point in the development of the monument an additional row was added. <1>

This setting of stone rows (YARROWS04 314) is situated at the southern edge of a field of pasture about 300m SE of North Yarrows farmsteading and some 50m E of the Loch of Yarrows. Situated on flat ground, the setting comprises eight roughly parallel rows of slabs set on edge. The rows are up to 2.5m apart and the longest measures 40m in length from N to S. The slabs are also aligned roughly N and S, and eighty of them remain standing, the tallest only 0.3m in height. At least another eleven slabs have fallen and, given the results of the excavation in 2003 (DES 2003, 94-5), it is likely that the apparent gaps in the rows indicate where other fallen stones lie hidden.
(YARROWS04 048, 314)
Visited by RCAHMS (JRS) 15 June 2004

Information regarding the 2003 excavations is from DES. Further information is awaited. GW 06/05/20

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred ND 3128 4401 (41m by 66m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND34SW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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