MHG55420 - Bronze Age short cist - SW of Spinningdale Mill


A Bronze Age short cist exposed during construction works.

Type and Period (1)

  • SHORT CIST (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC) + Sci.Date

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A Bronze Age short cist exposed during construction works.

In September 2011 the Highland Council Historic Environment Team (HET) was notified of human remains that had been found during excavations for a septic tank and associated services. A HET archaeologist attended the site and found the remains to be contained in a typical Bronze Age short cist, well constructed with good-sized slabs. The skull was in situ, lying on its right hand side (suggesting a crouched inhumation) with surviving teeth, a fragment of pottery and what appeared to be a pillow stone. The cap stone had been removed and was elsewhere on the site. No other bones or grave goods were visible. The location of the cist is typical, with stunning and commanding views straight up the Dornoch Firth and out towards the sea. At the time of the visit the site was in a fairly fragile condition, the cist being located at the bottom of a 6ft deep hole of which one side had partially collapsed. Work was continuing on site close to the open excavation. The cist was re-covered with tarpaulin on the recommendation of the Council archaeologist. <1> <2>

Following the HET visit, an archaeological rescue excavation of the cist was undertaken by GUARD Archaeology Limited, on behalf of Historic Scotland’s Human Remains Call-off Contract in September 2011. This excavation, and subsequent post-excavation work, discovered that the cist, built within a substantial pit, contained the remains of a crouched inhumation of a middle-aged adult female (35-50 years) with signs of spinal joint disease. A tripartite food vessel urn was placed to the west of her skull and some wool or sheep skin was also recovered from under the skeletal remains. The sheepskin or wool discovered is the first sample of this kind in Scotland. There have been only two other samples of wool found in the British Isles, and no other potential examples of sheepskin are known. A radiocarbon date of 2051-1911 cal BC and 2151-2018 cal BC (two sigma) was obtained from a bone and charcoal fragments respectively, placing the cist in the early Bronze Age period.
See link below to online published fieldwork report for full detail of the excavation. <3>

The excavation assemblage from the site was submitted to Treasure Trove (TT 207/15) and allocated to Inverness Museum. <4>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 6755 8933 (10m by 10m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH68NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish CREICH

Finds (5)

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC) + Sci.Date
  • VESSEL (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • ORGANIC MATERIAL (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)
  • RING (Bronze Age - 2400 BC to 551 BC)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (2)

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