Category Archives: Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli

For those who may not know, the terms ‘cairns’ and ‘tumuli’ are just prehistoric tombs. Another word we find as we move further north into Scotland is ‘cist’, which has a similar affiliation. A cairn is a pile of loose rocks and stones, which tends to be erected over a single or multiple burial or cremation – though without excavation we can never be sure which one it’s gonna be! A tumulus meanwhile (‘tumuli’ is the plural) is a heap of earth piled up over a burial or cremation. Small cairns and tumuli tend to cover single graves; whilst larger ones can have multiple burials therein. However we sometimes find that huge tombs have only one or two burials/ cremations inside. In such cases it’s likely that the people entombed there were of considerable importance: perhaps a tribal chief, a king, a queen, or powerful shaman. In many places across northern Britain, where there’s a profusion of cairns/tumuli we tend to find a good examples of prehistoric rock art, or cup-and-ring stones.

Cow Keepers Field, Boulby, Easington, North Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NZ 7540 1922 Also Known as: Boulby Barns Archaeology & History This prehistoric tomb was one in a cluster of tumuli in the Boulby district, uncovered by the northern antiquarians, William Hornsby and John Laverick … Continue reading

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The Falls (1), Boulby, Easington, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NZ 74954 19429 Also Known as: Rockcliff Beacon Archaeology & History Occupying a prominent position above the ever-closer North Sea, upon which an old beacon was subsequently placed, this denuded prehistoric tomb was first surveyed by … Continue reading

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Carleatheran, Gargunnock, Stirlingshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NS 68789 91880 Also Known as: Caerlatheran Canmore ID 45381 Getting Here The quickest way here is still a long one.  From Gargunnock village, take the road west towards the A811, turning left just before the bend … Continue reading

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Dun Riaskidh, Torrisdale Bay, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 68763 61406 Also Known as: Canmore ID 5775 Dun Richard Getting Here Along the A836 road between Bettyhill and Tongue, keep your eyes peeled for the turning down to Borgie and Skerray.  Go along here … Continue reading

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The Croft, Doune, Perthshire

Cists (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NN 7247 0188 Also Known as: Canmore ID 24760 Archaeology & History Somewhere in the woodland park, before the area was “ruined”, as Moray Mackay (1984) put it, by “sand and gravel workings”, and within … Continue reading

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Warlocks’ Tomb, Muckhart, Clackmannanshire

Tomb/s (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NS 9928 9865 Archaeology & History A fascinating site that was described in Johnston & Tullis (2003) local history work on the parish of Muckhart. Amidst an area bedevilled with faerie, boggarts, ghosts and historical … Continue reading

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Borgie, Tongue, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 6737 5940 Also Known as: Canmore ID 5743 Getting Here Very difficult to find under the herbage, but – along the A836 road between Tongue and Bettyhill, turn down at Borgie Bridge towards Skerray.  A few … Continue reading

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Limekiln Field, Pytchley, Northamptonshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SP 8601 7510 Archaeology & History According to a Mr Abner Brown (1846), this was one of two prehistoric cemeteries that once existed in Pytchley village, but very little seems to have been written about it. … Continue reading

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Queen’s Cairn, Farr, Strathnaver, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 7247 5687 Also Known as: Canmore ID 6212 Skelpick Getting Here From Bettyhill village, take the road east towards Tongue and Durness.  A half-mile out of the village, at the bottom of the hill, just … Continue reading

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Kirkshaws, Old Monkland, Lanarkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 7249 6279 Also Known as: Canmore ID 45792 Archaeology & History On the flat meadowlands below the slopes of Old Monkland, half-a-mile southeast of the legendary Pilgrim’s Stone, an old mound once lived.  It may have … Continue reading

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