MHG39733 - Cists & symbol stone, Dairy Park, Golspie


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • BURIAL (Pictish - 300 AD to 900 AD) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Class I symbol stone - Dunrobin 2 - showing a double crescent over a serpent and Z-rod and a mirror-and-comb
A.Mack 1997 p.125

(NC 8470 0039) A symbol stone was found during ploughing in the Dairy Park on 23rd February 1977 by Messrs David Low and Graham Park. Subsequent excavation by Dr Close-Brooks established that the stone overlay a low, rectangular cairn, covering a long-cisted extended inhumation of an adult female, lying ENE-WSW and unaccompanied by grave-goods.
The cist, unpaved, was set in a pit dug into the gravel subsoil, and measured about 2.3m long by 1.0m wide by 0.6m deep. It was composed of sandstone slabs and there is some question as to how it was covered as none of the capstones were of any great size and they had partially collapsed into the grave. The cist had been completely covered by a layer of clean, yellow sand lying on the natural gravel and overlaid in turn by a thin covering of pebbles, bounded by a kerb of laid boulders on the N and W, and presumably originally also on the S and E, though no trace survived on these sides. The cairn is estimated to have measured about 9.5m by 7m by 0.5m to 0.6m high. There was no trace of a ditch. Carbon-14 dating of the skeletal material gave 660 +/- 50 AD and 625 +/- 50 AD (uncalibrated), dates consistent with that of the Class I symbol stone which may have at one time marked the site.
It is an unworked slab of sea-smoothed, pink sandstone, 1.2m long, 1.5m wide and 0.15m thick, with the incised symbols on one face only. They consist of a double crescent, a serpent and Z-rod and a comb and mirror. The stone, which is presumed to have stood erect over the cairn although no socket was identified, is now in Dunrobin Castle Museum.
Ackergill (ND35SW 12) offers the closest parallel for the cairn and long cist, while other instances occur of the association of symbol stones and burial cairns. Two other Class I symbol stones associated with cists have been found near Dairy Park (ND80SW 9 and 24), but in each case the use of the symbol stone was secondary.
J Close-Brooks 1977; 1981.

A radiocarbon date was obtained from the burial within the long cist. This was done as part of Juliette Mitchell's doctoral research into early Medieval barrows and cairns in Scotland, and was published in 2017 as part of the National Museum of Scotland's radiocarbon dating program of their collections. This indicated a Pictish date of 576-621 AD calibrated to 1 sigma. <1>

The NMS catalogue lists the side slab from the cist burial under Acc. No. 2014.365. This is described as of sandstone with criss-crossing grooves. Discussion and sketch can be found in Close-Brooks 1981.<2>

Human remains from the site are within NMS collections. <3>

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred NC 8469 0039 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC80SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish GOLSPIE

Finds (1)

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Pictish - 300 AD to 900 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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