MHG45837 - Rectangular Timber Building - Kerb Cairn, Stoneyfield


A Neolithic rectangular timber built building with a central hearth, probably related to a series of pits containing grooved ware, underlying the kerb cairn at Stoneyfield.

Type and Period (1)

  • BUILDING (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

See NH64NE0721 for relocated site. JW 2/12/99

Now at NH 68787 45086. Original location under modern A9 at NH 6878 4549 - "Cairn Circle" shown on OS 1:10,000, map, (1971)

JW 16/6/02

NH64NE 6 6878 4549.

(NH 6878 4549) Cairn Circle (NR)
OS 1:10,000, map, (1971)

At Stoneyfield are the remains of a Clava-type cairn. All that remains is the major part of an impressive cairn kerb, 58' indiameter. The cairn itself and the internal structure have been removed, though when seen by Anderson (J Anderson 1831) in about 1824 the cairn seems to have been fairly complete. The stones forming the kerb are massive boulders, the largest being on the SW arc - the tallest, a leaning stone at the S end of this arc, 4'9" high - and other stones are 4'6" to 4'3" high. The stones in the NE arc are 1'9" to 2'9" high. Many stones have fallen inwards or outwards but have not been disturbed, and several have been reduced by blasting. There is no sign, nor it there any record, of monoliths which may once have surrounded the cairn.
In 1760 two stone circles were recorded at Stoneyfield. (a, b) (This feature was first published on OS 6"map as "Stone Circle").
A S Henshall 1963; R Pococke 1887; NSA (A Rose, A Clark and R Macpherson) 1845, G Anderson 1831; J Fraser 1884; Visited by OS (W D J) 30 March 1960.

The excavation a kerb cairn at Stoneyfield (MHG3723) in 1972-3 revealed that beneath it there had been a rectangular timber building, 9.5m long with a central stone hearth, probably associated with a series of pits containing Grooved Ware. The cairn itself consisted of a heavy stone kerb with traces of an external stone platform on the W; in the central area there was a series of pits and cists, some of them contemporary with the cairn, some later. Several of the pits contained cremations, and in one of the cists there was a Food Vessel. A Cordoned Urn with a cremation had also been deposited in the cairn. Other articles found included a cup-marked stone, a 2nd century Roman brooch, and a sherd of coarse ware.
A S Henshall 1963; D D A Simpson 1973, 1974; RCAHMS 1979.

The full excavation report of the 1972-3 rescue excavation was published in 1996. According to this, 55 post holes were identified on site, forming two settings. The first was a row of seven post-holes outside the massive kerb, running in a NE direction. The second was a possible grouping of 52 post holes forming the roughly rectangular structure. Both pre-date the cairn, which was, however, built respecting the building. A number of pits were associated with the building, and contained grooved ware pottery and tranchet style arrowheads. C-14 dates from two of the pits within the building were CAL BC 2873-2509 and CAL BC 3777-3638 (both 1 sigma). The nature of the building, whether domestic or ritual, is unclear. The National ScARF recommended that the nature and date of the structure be clarified with further C-14 dating. <1> <2>

The site and the excavated sequence is further discussed by Richard Bradley in his 2000 publication. He discusses two interpretations of the sequence; either the the rectangular building was decayed or demolished and replaced with the circular central cairn, with the kerb constructed later to enclose this and remaining in use as a cemetery for a considerable period of time, or the rectangular building was enclosed by the kerb while it was still standing or as it decayed, with the central cairn added later, when this building was lost, with the site afterwards used a cemetery. In either interpretation, there appears to be a signifiant relationship between the rectangular building at the later kerb cairn, as the central cairn overlays the building exactly and the kerb was constructed around the same central point. Bradley also highlights that the axis of the site also changes by the construction of these monuments, significant because the monument associated with the dead was set out on the opposite axis to the building, possibly a house, which would have been occupied by the living. <2>

See link below to published PSAS article for full discussion of the site.

The excavation assemblage from the site is in Inverness Museum and is listed under Acc. No. 1979.045. There are also finds listed under Acc. Nos. 1982.081-083, 1984.097, 1985.067 and 2002.655. <3>

Sources/Archives (9)



Grid reference Centred NH 6877 4549 (30m by 30m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH64NE
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

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External Links (2)

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