MHG981 - Chambered Cairn, Tullochs of Assery A


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Type and Period (1)

  • CHAMBERED CAIRN (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC) + Sci.Date

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Full Description

A well-preserved, short, horned cairn (Cat 69) one, probably the earlier of the two chambered cairns known as the Tullochs of Assery (see also ND06SE 16). Excavation by Corcoran in 1961, in advance of the raising of the level of Loch Calder, revealed an apparently unique plan of two chambers set back to back and approached by passages through the north and south facades. Finds from the excavation are in NMAS.
Visited by OS 3 November 1964; NMAS 1977.

Corcoran's excavation remains open but otherwise the cairn is well-preserved although the waters of the loch lap the margins and have caused some damage.
Visit by OS 17 August 1981.

See link below for radiocarbon dates. They were first published (uncalibrated) by Sharples in 1986. The excavations when the samples were taken were undertaken in 1961, however, as radiocarbon dating was expensive and time consuming at this time, it was not until 1980 that radiocarbon dating samples from this site and the two others excavated was again considered. The close proximity of this site, Tulloch of Assery B and Tulach an t'Sionnaich and also the great difference in both architecture and burial deposits meant that some chronological guidelines for these three sites could result in a picture of the changing use of chambered tombs in the Britush Isles. <1>

A radiocarbon date from an adult male sample from this site was obtained and published in 2016 for the GENSCOT Ancient DNA project. This indicated a Neolithic date of 3641-3530 BC, calibrated to 1 sigma. <2> The radiocarbon date and DNA sample information were also included in 'A summary round-up list of Scottish archaeological human remains that have been sampled/analysed for DNA as of January 2019', available online through DES. This also includes references to where the DNA results have been pulished. <3>

A petite tranchet derivative arrowhead of grey flint and a broken piece of a large reddish flint flake (possible part of a knife) are listed in the NMS catalogue under Acc. Nos. EO 1063 and EO 1064. <4>

Human remains from the site are within NMS collections. <5>

Sources/Archives (12)



Grid reference Centred ND 0682 6188 (80m by 80m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND06SE
Civil Parish HALKIRK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (3)

  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 2401 BC?)
  • TRANSVERSE ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC? to 2401 BC?)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2401 BC)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (4)

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