MHG2511 - Burials, Lower Dounreay


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • HUT CIRCLE (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC to 560 AD)
  • BURIAL GROUND (Early Bronze Age to Medieval - 2400 BC? to 1559 AD?) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

(NC 9838 6697) Grave Yard (NR) (Site of)
OS 6"map, Caithness, 2nd ed., (1907)

(NC 9839 6697) Cists found AD 1865 (NAT)
(NC 9847 6699) Cists found AD 1956 (NAT)
OS 6"map, (1967)

The existence of an extensive cemetery may be indicated by the finding of interments in vicinity of Lwr Dounreay Farm. The first group of 'several coffins' was discovered while part of stackyard was being levelled about 1865, which was said to be graveyard of adjacent chapel (NC96NE 1) (NB 1870).
Another group of at least 7 pre-Christian interments was found about 8-9ft below present ground level during deep trenching, and later partial excavation in October 1956. 3 skeletons were found extended and one was crouched. Some were in cists which were destroyed before observation and measurement; and others were in pits. Unspecified animal remains were also found.
Two hut floors, one with a clay hearth, were revealed in cross-section and may be contemporary with, or later than, interments (S Cruden 1956).
The sites of both groups of burials are now within the Dounreay Atomic Establishment. The first is covered by a small playing field; the second was indicated by Mr Carmichael, but excavation has been back-filled (info from D Carmichael, General Secretary, Dounreay Atomic Establishment) Another interment was exposed by bulldozer excavaton at NC 985 670 in 1966. It may have been in a cist but damage was extensive and position of the bones was uncertain. The remains are in NMAS (J E Burns 1966).
Name Book 1873; S Cruden 1956; J E Burns 1966; visited by OS (N K B) 20 11 1964; Info from I McIvor, MoW TS report, undated.

The interment exposed in 1966 was found adjacent to NE side of former croft of Craigton, now demolished, at approx NC 9815 6690. Visited by OS (J B) 7 September 1980.

It is possible that Miss Burns' grid reference is correct for the burial but that some 300 yards to the W was where the lime-kiln was found (see NC96NE 50) and the OS surveyor acquired confused siting information. Visited by RCAHMS (JLD) 19 October 1988.

This the salvage recording at this site is briefly discused in MacLaren's 2003 report. See link below.<1>

Radiocarbon dates were obtained from human skeletal material above the Iron Age hut site as part of the Human Remains from Iron Age Atlantic Scotland Dating Project 2009. These produced early medieval dates of 670–715 AD and 645–680 AD, calibrated to 1 sigma. <2> The radiocarbon dates and DNA sample information were also included in 'A summary round-up list of Scottish archaeological human remains that have been sampled/analysed for DNA as of January 2019', available online through DES. <3>

Human remains from the site are within NMS collections. <4>

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred NC 9849 6700 (100m by 100m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC96NE
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (1)

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Pictish to Early Medieval - 300 AD? to 1057 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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