MHG8590 - Cairnfield - Cartomie Wood


A cairnfield comprising at least 30 mounds and other features, ten of which have now been fully or partially removed by the construction of an access road. Archaeological excavation and monitoring identified a buried prehistoric land surface beneath some of the features.

Type and Period (5)

  • CLEARANCE CAIRN (Late Bronze Age to 19th Century - 1250 BC? to 1900 AD?)
  • CAIRNFIELD (Late Bronze Age to 19th Century - 1250 BC? to 1900 AD?)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Late Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 1250 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • BURIED LAND SURFACE (Late Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 1250 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • ARD MARKS? (Late Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 1250 BC? to 560 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NH78NW 22 710 853
Cairnfield, Cartomie Wood: A group of about thirty small cairns, which measure up to 3.5m in diameter and 0.5m in height, is visible 300m E of Balblair distillery and immediately N of the railway. RCAHMS 1979, visited 1977. <1>

Field clearance heaps of an uncertain age in a pasture field.
Visited by OS (J B) 23 February 1981.

Partial excavation of two of the cairns in January 2010 revealed a buried land surface lying beneath the features. Fragments of possibly worked flint, including a blade fragment and a possible scraper, were recovered from beneath one of the cairns at the interface between this land surface and the natural subsoil. Coarse pottery of probable Iron Age date was recovered from within the cairn material and from the land surface beneath. Several shallow linear marks were observed cut into the subsoil. These were interpreted by the excavator as marks from 20th-century subsoil ploughing but given the evidence it is more likely that these are marks from prehistoric cultivation. Similar marks and a buried land surface were also noted beneath a third cairn that was mechanically excavated under archaeological supervision. The cairns/mounds themselves were not primarily stony in their composition, but largely consisted of redeposited subsoil. Eight further cairns were examined in the course of a watching brief during topsoil stripping. All were low, fairly indistinct features which were only partially disturbed by the works. All of the features proved to be low, amorphous mounds overlying the natural orange-brown subsoil. The same buried land surface was noted beneath some of the mounds but no finds were recovered. Two linear features were also noted during the topsoil stripping, one of which was overlain by two of the mounds. The features comprised low banks composed of stones within an earth-subsoil matrix. The works appear to have established that these features were not burial cairns, and while a probable prehistoric land surface was identified beneath many of the mounds, the date of the mounds themselves remains inconclusive. <2><3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NH 71043 85334 (171m by 154m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH78NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish EDDERTON

Finds (3)

  • SHERD (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL)? (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • BLADE (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2400 BC? to 560 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (1)

External Links (1)

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