MHG2927 - Ring Cairn - Newton of Petty


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Type and Period (1)

  • RING CAIRN (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC) + Sci.Date

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Full Description

Chambered Cairn (NR) (remains of) The site of this Clava-type cairn is in the corner of a flat field, just over 50ft OD, about 1/2 mile inland from the S shore of the Moray Firth. A railway cutting skirts the monument on the N and may account for the loss of the monoliths on this side. Most of the kerb of the cairn survives and has a diameter of 50 - 52ft. It is constructed of rough, rounded boulders with no regular graduation in size though they tend to be rather slighter to the N. The stones vary from 3ft to 1ft in height. The cairn material and centre structure have been removed though some stones of the innermost setting survived to 1824 (Anderson 1831). Four monoliths of the surrounding circle remain standing, evenly spaced on the SW arc, 14 to 16ft from the kerb. From S to N they are 4ft, 5ft, 4 1/2ft, and 3 3/4ft high, the tallest stone being directly to the SW. Two prostrate stones on the SE are probably fallen monoliths. There are said to have been formerly thirteen free-standing stones round the cairn (Anderson 1831). <1> <2> <3>

The remains of the cairn are as described by Miss Henshall - one of the kerb stones on the SW side has since been removed.
Visited by OS (E G C) 25 April 1962.

The site was Scheduled in 1975.

Three seasons of excavation, between 1975 and 1977, were carried out by students of the University of Leicester under the direction of John Thawley. These confirmed that this site was of "ring-cairn" type. The inner kerb consisted of a small ditch dug into the old land surface which was filled mainly with water-worn boulders and some flat slabs. This infill protruded above the old land surface in some places. The larger sizes of both the ditch and the stones of its infill on the SW side of the inner kerb reflected the usual Clava orientation. Large quantities of crushed cremated bone were found in a matrix of sooty soil in the central area of the cairn. There was little sign of disturbance in the thin layer of cairn material, and in view of the very insubstantial nature of the inner kerb, it is doubtful if the cairn ever had more than a flat platform of cobbling. No diagnostic cultural material was recovered. <4>

A full report for J Thawley's excavations was subsequently produced by Richard Bradley and Margaret Mathews and included in a monograph for a major project on the Clava Cairns. <5>

This Clava-type cairn, which has been photographed by the RCAHMS, was in a similar condition to that described in the previous reports when seen in 1978.
RCAHMS 1979; Visible on RCAHMS air photographs IN 3093-4: flown 1977.

Ten radiocarbon dates were obtained and published in the full report for J Thawley's excavations by Richard Bradley and Margaret Mathews. They indicate two two distinct periods of use for the ring cairn: in the Early Bronze Age and in the Late Bronze Age, with a gap of almost thousand years between these periods. <5>

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NH 7347 4859 (61m by 50m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH74NW
Civil Parish PETTY
Geographical Area INVERNESS

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