Ancient Monuments

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Brin Nursery, barrow cemetery 70m NNW of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3314 / 57°19'53"N

Longitude: -4.2224 / 4°13'20"W

OS Eastings: 266303

OS Northings: 828951

OS Grid: NH663289

Mapcode National: GBR H9YB.W01

Mapcode Global: WH4H2.3ZLJ

Entry Name: Brin Nursery, barrow cemetery 70m NNW of

Scheduled Date: 7 February 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11495

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Daviot and Dunlichity

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises a number of related burial mounds, collectively known as a barrow cemetery, and dating to the first millennium AD. It lies at 210 m OD at the base of a broad valley, near to a fort and possible early chapel site, immediately to the S of the river Nairn and between two glacial ridges. The land is improved pasture, used previously for arable.

The cemetery comprises at least five ditched barrows constructed of a mixture of earth and stone on top of a low gravel ridge. Four are sub-circular, ranging from 5 m to 10 m in length by 4.2 m to 9.6 m transversely, and standing up to 0.6 m in height. The fifth is rectangular, measuring 8 m in length by 4.8 m transversely and 0.75 m in height, and appears to be composed of two contiguous square mounds. The axes of all the barrows are NE to SW. All but one of the barrows have traces of an enclosing ditch, up to 0.15 m in depth; that around the rectangular mound is broken by a causeway at three of its corners; and those around at least two of the sub-circular mounds are also interrupted by causeways. A raised area continues to the S of the barrows and appears consistent with the platform on which they lie. Drainage works in the area suggest a very wet ground surface previously and highlight the raised area's potential to reveal further archaeological material related to the barrows and their use. The site has been ploughed over, holes dug in the surface and it is crossed by a trackway, which is visible on the early Ordnance Survey maps.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon, centred on the barrow cemetery, to include the remains described and an area in which evidence for their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the attached map. The scheduling excludes the above-ground structures of modern field boundaries, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: Although there is an amount of plough and other damage, the monument is still upstanding and therefore represents a relatively well-preserved example of a very rare monument type, with cairns that display a number of the key component characteristics of their class. Other excavated examples of Pictish cemeteries show that there is a high probability of unmarked cist burials in the vicinity, and there is a possibility that archaeological features associated with the cemetery may be preserved. The presence of both upstanding remains and preserved deposits means that this site has the potential to inform our understanding of the ritual and burial practices of this poorly understood period in Scotland's past. Additionally, through examination of the different forms and styles of monument architecture it has the potential to contribute to future research into the structure of Pictish society, through its kinship, kin-group or social divisions, and/or how that society developed and changed through time.

Contextual characteristics: It is only one of a small number of identified Pictish cemeteries throughout Scotland, and of those, the majority are only visible as cropmarks. Therefore, this monument is in an almost unique position to tell us about: how the different types of cairns that form these monuments appeared above ground; how they were constructed; what their upper levels were composed of; and how people experienced and encountered them. Additionally, the close spatial association of this monument with a high status residence and a possible early Christian site may shed light on the development of early medieval politics and the adoption of Christianity. Comparison of this monument with the few others of this class scattered elsewhere in Scotland can inform about regional identity, conversion and/or the political, social and cultural cohesion of society in Scotland in the first millennium AD, a period which is little understood.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it is a rare and distinctive example of a cemetery of the first millennium AD with well-preserved associated archaeological deposits. It has the potential to inform research into the development of political entities within the Pictish period and about the process of conversion to Christianity. Its loss would significantly detract from our ability to experience and understand these forms of monument and interpret the society that buried their dead in them, both in this locality and throughout Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NH62NE16.


RCAHMS 1994, UPPER STRATHNAIRN, INVERNESS: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY. SUMMARY REPORT, Edinburgh, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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