MHG2529 - Norse Cemetery - Reay Links


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • CEMETERY (CULTURE 900; CULTURE 999; , Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NB GR given ids S of the road, refs to Drill hall shows should be N of road and close to corrected GR above - HAW 2/2003

NC96NE 13 973 640.
(Name centred: NC 9737 6508) Viking Burial found AD 1926 (NAT) OS 6"map, (1967)

Viking burials, probably indicating existence of a cemetery, have been found on the links of Reay, usually exposed by sand-blow.
Viking Club 1912.

A: In 1912, probably September, a skeleton with buckle of a horse bridle was found by James Forbes, grave-digger and postman who, assisted by District Inspector of Poor, collected the bones and buried them in Reay cemetery.
B: September 1913, a woman's grave, containing 2 10th century tortoise brooches, a bronze ring-headed pin, a bronze buckle, a steatite spindle whorl and iron bridle-bit, the ankle-bone of a small horse was found. An iron buckle and an iron cross, 1 5/8ins long were found soon afterwards within 2 or 3 yards of site and were probably associated.
1926 site was identified by many horse bones in sand. It had been placed beside a dry-stone wall c4ft in height and width, apparently part of a circular building of which about 12ft was uncovered, and shows above ground level. Finds are in NMAS (Acc Nos IL 335-9; 341-2)
C: August 1926, a male skeleton, complete from knees upwards, was found among sand-dunes not far from N side of the drill-hall at Reay. It lay full length on a paved surface with head slightly raised on a flat stone, and was surrounded and covered by large stones and sand. In bottom of grave there was a layer of dark sand mixed with pieces of slag and burnt iron. The grave-goods comprised an axe, shield boss knife, sickle, cleat-shaped object, nail-head and buckle all of iron; a bronze ring-headed pin, a whetstone and two pieces of flint - all of which are in NMAS (Acc. Nos. IL 365-371, 373-5) Wind-blow had also exposed traces of numerous graves 'or other regularly constructed works in stone' between dunes.
D: 1928, Edwards examined a small mound c160yards W of drill-hall and 22 yards N of road (ie. cNC 9720 6504) in which he discovered a long cist 8ft long x 2ft broad x 2ft deep, unpaved, and except for some red clay, entirely filled with sand. It lay NE-SW covered by small boulders and sand. No grave goods were found.
E: Also in 1928, Edwards discovered remains of two long cists 6ft long by 2ft wide and 1.5ft deep, on E side of Isauld Burn, between it and farm dyke The cists lay nearly E-W with head and side stones protruding above ground level. No grave goods were found, both cists being completely filled with earth.
D & E were discovered by Edwards during a search for further Viking burials, but beyond their form there is nothing to indicate that they were Viking.
A O Curle, M Olsen and H Shetelig 1954; J Curle 1914; A J H Edwards 1927; 1929;

None of the cists, structures, nor the mound of 'D' are visible. No further information. Visited by OS (N K B) 25 November 1964.

No change. Visited by OS (J B) 8 September 1981.

The iron cross has been re-interpreted as iron tweezers. <1>

Some of the finds were loaned to Dunbeath Heritage Museum and are on display there. These include the two oval brooches (IL 334-335), the ring pin (IL 336), the buckle (IL 337), the whorl (IL 328) and the horse bone (IL 376). <2>

Sources/Archives (11)



Grid reference Centred NC 9728 6507 (225m by 121m)
Map sheet NC96NE
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (21)

  • BUCKLE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • BROOCH (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • CROSS? (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • SLAG (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • AXEHEAD (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • KNIFE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • SICKLE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • NAIL (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • WHETSTONE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • SHIELD (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • BRIDLE FITTING (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • BRIDLE BIT (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • TWEEZERS? (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • CLEAT? (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • BUCKLE (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • PIN (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • SPINDLE WHORL (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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