MHG42444 - Cairn Hill, Old Stirkoke (Broch)


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Type and Period (1)

  • BURIAL (Undated)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Cairn Hill (NAT) Broch (NR) (remains of)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

Broch, Cairn Hill, Old Stirkoke: The mound had an original diameter of 80-90ft, but bout two-thirds of it had been removed on N side before 1871, when Anderson observed stone-robbing and published his observations in Archaeol Scot. The broch's walls were about 13ft thick, enclosing an area some 30ft diameter. Objects recovered are mostly in NMAS (Acc Nos: GA 73-81). They include a bone bodkin, a polished bone needle, half a disc of mica schist, a stone lamp, a few spindle whorls, two whetstones, hammer-stones, thin circular discs of slaty stone, a fragment of bronze and a portion of the hilt end of a very broad, double-edged sword.
RCAHMS 1911; J Anderson 1873; 1883.

On NE of mound an extensive midden was found which consisted principally of turf or peat ashes with wood-charcoal, shells, bones and pottery.
J Anderson 1866.

Cairn Hill is situated on edge of haughland. On its W side it has a height of some 6.3m which reduces to about 1.3m on its E side, while on N it merges with the surrounding ground. The top of hill has obviously contained some sort of stone structure, probably a broch, but it has been quarried and excavated to such an extent that no surveyable traces of any structure remain, apart from a short stretch of walling on the E side.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (W D J) 23 April 1963.

The 'cairn', which had a circumference of about 90 yds, was still being quarried in 1882, when, among many other finds, iron ore and an iron ball were discovered as well as a large stone cist 'in an important position'. It measured 8ft by 2ft by 20ins deep, and was composed of rough slabs. The skeleton, although incomplete, appeared to be of great size. The skull was well-preserved, apart from the upper teeth, and measured 23ins in circumference. (See also ND34NW 14 - long cists.) Anon 1882.

The remains of the broch are as described by previous OS field investigator. No further info regarding the 'large stone cist' was encountered. The farmer at the adjacent farm, Old Stirkoke disputed the title 'Cairn Hill', stating that this name applied to 'Cairn of Stirkoke' (ND34NW 12).
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (J B) 1 September 1982.

Anderson, J. & Shearer, R.I., 1866, Report on the ancient remains of Caithness and results of explorations conducted for the Anthropological Society of London by Messrs. Joseph Anderson and Robert Innes Shearer in 1865, 230-1 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1404.

Anderson, J, 1873, ''Notice of the excavation of the brochs of Yarhouse, Brounaben, Bowermadden, Old Stirkake, and Dunbeath in Caithness; with remarks on the period of the brochs, and an appendix, containing a collected list of the brochs of Scotland, and early notices of m, 142 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1281.

Anon, 1882, The Antiquary Vol. 5 1882, p.228, 228 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG3535.

Anderson, J, 1883, Scotland in pagan times: the iron age: the Rhind lectures in archaeology for 1881, 232 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG1899.

RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness, 144-5, No. 499 (Text/Report). SHG2664.

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred ND 3274 4928 (6m by 6m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet ND34NW
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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