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.

Manse Bridge, Melness, Tongue, Sutherland

Cairns:  OS Grid Reference – NC 5784 6229 Also Known as: Canmore ID 5385 Getting Here Along the A836 road between Durness and Tongue, take the minor road north to Melness and Talmine. 400 yards or so past Talmine Stores shop, … Continue reading

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Tongue House, Tongue, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 5926 5862 Also Known as: Canmore ID 5325 Getting Here I approached this by walking along the B8438 road northwest out of Tongue village, towards the road-crossing over the Kyle of Tongue.  There’s a small … Continue reading

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Southdown Cottage, Cotmandene, Dorking, Surrey

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TQ 1686 4958 Archaeology & History Highlighted on the 1914 OS-map (as ‘Site of’), nothing now remains of the prehistoric structure that either covered or surrounded the ancient burial urn, found fortuitously by a … Continue reading

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Cock Howe (1), Skelton Moor, Marske, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NZ 0811 0063 Getting Here Take the minor high road between the hamlets of Marske and Fremington (up Hard Stiles from Marske side), turning up Stelling Road at the crossroads, and ⅔-mile (1.1km) along, turn right … Continue reading

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Law Knowe, Niddrie, Edinburgh, Midlothian

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 3076 7177 Archaeology & History Long since gone, this little-known burial mound could once be seen not far from the old mansion of Niddrie House.  The only reference I’ve found of it is in … Continue reading

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Rolleston’s Barrow, Rushmore, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire

Tumulus:  OS Grid Reference – ST 95552 18233 Archaeology & History In what today seems a barely visible tumulus, amidst the large cluster that could once be found upon the large estate grounds of Rushmore House, were once the overgrown … Continue reading

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Old Pleck Barrow, Rushmore, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference — ST 95459 17548 Archaeology & History This long-lost burial mound was one in a large group of prehistoric tombs that were explored in the 19th century by the legendary antiquarian, General Pitt-Rivers. It had already … Continue reading

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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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