MHG54321 - Possible prehistoric features, Dounreay


A number of features identified during archaeological evaluation which, though undated, may be contemporary with the nearby chambered cairn.

Type and Period (3)

  • DITCH (Post Medieval - 1560 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • PIT (Bronze Age - 2400 BC? to 551 BC?)
  • POST HOLE (Bronze Age - 2400 BC? to 551 BC?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Archaeological trial trenching in advance of construction for the Dounreay New Low Level Waste Facilities resulted in several cut features being identified close to the site of a chambered cairn MHG2479. The features comprised a large oval pit [022], possible posthole [036] and linear feature [033]. The linear feature is located parallel and close to a modern field boundary and may represent an earlier boundary ditch. The stones within pit 022 appeared to form a rectangular structure and may have formed a trough or possibly a small cist, but the feature was heavily disturbed making it difficult to form any conclusions. The posthole adjacent to the pit could be contemporary.
The close proximity of the features to the chambered cairn leads the excavators to suggest they could be contemporary, but no dating evidence was recovered. The relative lack of any archaeological features away from the cairn suggests that any such activity was localised around the cairn. <1>

An earlier watching brief on the machine excavation of four trenches identified two undated ditches within Trench 3, the long trench running south-west to north-east across the site. It was suggested that the ditches could be related to post-medieval land drainage but the possibility was also raised that they could represent prehistoric activity. <2>

The finds from the site comprise a single flint flake and a sample of the cairn material. This excavation assemblage was submitted to Treasure Trove (TT 86/12) and allocated to Caithness Horizons. <1> <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NC 9959 6773 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC96NE
Civil Parish REAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (1)

  • FLAKE (Bronze Age - 2400 BC? to 551 BC?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (0)

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