MHG40107 - Cairn w finds, Tote


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • INHUMATION (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • SHIP BURIAL? (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

In autumn 1922 a large grass-grown cairn on foreshore at Tote was excavated by T C Lethbridge. The cairn was about 40ft in diameter and about 8ft high. In the top was a cup-shaped depression which may have been caused by robbery for wall-building, or by a secondary burial. At ground level in centre of cairn was a short cist containing upwards of 150 flint and other flakes and two rude scrapers. There was no trace of bone, although charcoal was abundant. (T C Lethbridge 1920) The secondary burial was about 1.5ft below surface of depression on top of cairn: it was composed of fine sand in which were a few fragments of a human femur and burnt bones. Associated with the burial were an iron axe (with remains of handle), a bronze penannular broach (with fragments of leather still adhering to it), a bone bead, a hone, a piece of wood, 2ins long, a great number of rusty pieces of iron attached to fragments of wood - probably the remains off a shield, but also described as boat rivets, (A O Curle M Olsen and H Shetelig 1954) and several small iron fragments. The finds are in the private possession of T C Lethbridge (S Grieg 1940).
The flints from the cist are listed as mesolithic survivals and described as a remarkable series of buchite, or vitrified shale, artifacts found in two (sic) Bronze Age cairns. They include fairly large fine blades, some retouched, a few cores, one apparently having served as a scraper, and a steeply dressed trimming-flake. An abruptly edge-blunted microlith, made on a narrow blade, very probably cut by micro-burin technique, constitutes most northerly example of kind in British Isles (A D Lacaille 1954).
T C Lethbridge 1920; S Grieg 1940; A O Curle, M Olsen and H Shetelig 1954; A D Lacaille 1954.

This cairn, situated at NG 4097 4975 a few feet above high water mark on the E side of Loch Snizort, now measures 19.0m in diameter and 1.2m in height. The central excavation is very obvious with the stones lying loose; the remainder of the cairn is turf covered.
Visited by OS (C F W) 24 April 1961.

The site is referred to in Graham-Campbell and Batey's 'Vikings in Scotland'. <1>

Finds from the secondary burial are within Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. These are listed in the catalogue under Acc. No. 1951.1058.1-22 and described as an iron axe with a fragment of wooden haft, fragments of iron rings and buckles which are probably the mountings of a shield with fragments of wood adhering and also a possible stone axehead (likely the hone referred to above). <2>

See link below to ARCH's Site of the Month feature of the site.

Sources/Archives (6)



Grid reference Centred NG 4096 4974 (6m by 6m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG44NW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish SNIZORT

Finds (7)

  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • SHIELD? (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • BEAD (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • PENANNULAR BROOCH (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)
  • AXEHEAD (Norse - 800 AD to 1300 AD)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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