MHG57676 - Burial cairn - Allanfearn


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • BURIAL CAIRN? (Neolithic to Late Iron Age - 4000 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • PIT (Neolithic to Late Iron Age - 4000 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A geophysical survey was carried out by GUARD in 1993 in advance of a proposed new sewage treatment plant at Allanfearn to the northeast of Inverness. Part of the survey area included a group of scheduled barrows known only as cropmarks. In field 2, south of the Scheduled area, a rectilinear anomaly (J) sits at the edge of the slope. This may represent an enclosure; if so, it is likely to be medieval or later. Adjoining this anomaly is a small circular anomaly (K); given the proximity to (J), it is possible that (J) might be a part of (K), which anomaly coincides with a buried man¬hole (shown on plans from Mott MacDonald Scotland, the contractors). <1>

An excavation by GUARD in 1995-6 prior to the construction of a new sewage treatment works at Allanfearn to the northeast of Inverness revealed a series of enigmatic deposits. A single large trench was opened at the location of two anomalies (J, K) in field 2 found during the previous geophysical survey. The features present in the main part of trench JK appeared to be the remains of a possible domestic structure and a number of associated pits, none of which appeared to relate to each other structurally (see MHG57675 for detail). In the eastern extension to the main trench the exposed feature appeared to represent the partial remains of a burial cairn or barrow. The cairn material was contained within a shallow cut and stake-holes were present beneath the cairn. The pattern the stakeholes formed was disjointed but they generally enclosed the central area of the cairn. They may have been from a preconstruction phase but are more likely to be contemporary with the cairn. A shallow pit which may have been a grave cut was present in the central area of the cairn within the area delineated by the stakeholes. The cut was sub-rectangular and measured 1.50m x 0.90m x 0.33m. Any body which had been placed in the cut would have had to have been a crouched burial or that of a child. Phosphate samples were taken of the lowest fill to establish whether a body had been contained in the cut and had since completely decayed. These await scientific analysis. The main body of the mound had an extent of 12m x 8m with the long-axis orientated northwest - southeast and was made up of a number of sandy layers. Some pits containing burnt material were present just outside the north boundary of the cairn, of which one was large enough to have contained a burial. Phosphate samples were taken from this feature and it may have held a satellite internment just outside the main mound. To form the cairn the ground was prepared by digging out a shallow cut down to the level of the natural. A stake built structure in the centre of the cairn may have formed some sort of mortuary house enclosing a burial since completely decayed, or a temporary grave where the body had been removed. A layer of pale grey and white silt and sand was spread over the natural and the body of the mound built up with beach pebbles and grey silt and sand. Larger stones were placed at the edge of the mound. Turves may also have been used in the construction. <2>

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NH 7117 4736 (16m by 16m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH74NW
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (1)

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