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Allt Eileag, chambered cairn 790m south east of Cnoc Chaornaidh

A Scheduled Monument in North, West and Central Sutherland, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.0285 / 58°1'42"N

Longitude: -4.8575 / 4°51'27"W

OS Eastings: 231351

OS Northings: 907942

OS Grid: NC313079

Mapcode National: GBR G7CH.ZNQ

Mapcode Global: WH296.CG3M

Entry Name: Allt Eileag, chambered cairn 790m SE of Cnoc Chaornaidh

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1977

Last Amended: 23 November 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4046

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Kincardine (Highland)

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: North, West and Central Sutherland

Traditional County: Ross-shire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a chambered cairn dating to the Neolithic period, probably built and in use between around 4000BC and 2500BC. It is visible as a large heel shaped stony mound measuring around 20m in diameter and up to around 3m in height. A curved entrance passage leads from the centre of a horned façade on the northeast to a central chamber with two side chambers. Both chamber and passage are filled with loose stones and collapse. The monument is located on an east facing hillslope above the River Oykel at around 170m above sea level.                                                                                 

The position of the entrance passage and chamber are indicated by large orthostats (upright stones) visible within the body of the cairn. The entrance passage is curved and extends for around 8m. A large lintel is visible over the entrance to the passage. It leads to a central chamber measuring around 3.7m north-south with side chambers extending to the east and west.

The scheduled area is circular with a diameter of 40m. It includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is a chambered cairn which survives as a substantial stone-built mound. Although some disturbance and collapse is evident, this has not disturbed the overall profile and the monument stands close to its original scale and appearance. It has a northeast facing horned façade, a curved entrance passage and internal chamber with side chambers. The roof of both the passage and chambers has collapsed and the interiors are rubble filled. They appear largely undisturbed and it is highly likely that other features survive within the body of the cairn.

There is good potential for the survival of archaeological remains, including human burials, artefacts and environmental remains such as pollen and charcoal, within, beneath and around the upstanding structure of the cairn. The archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the date of the monument, ritual and funerary practices, and the structure of Neolithic society. Any artefacts and environmental material would enhance understanding of contemporary economy, land-use and environment.

Dating evidence from chambered cairns elsewhere demonstrates that they were constructed and in use between around 4000BC and 2500 BC. They were used for communal burial and ritual, and excavations often reveal evidence of complex development sequences. Therefore the cairn may have been in use for a long period of time. Scientific study of the cairn's form and construction techniques compared with other chambered cairns would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site and of chambered cairns in general.

Contextual Characteristics

Chambered cairns are found throughout Scotland, with a concentration in the north and west. The example at Allt Eileag is important as an upstanding, well-preserved and largely undisturbed example. It is part of a wider group of chambered cairns in Glen Oykel located around Cnoc Chaornaidh, including Cnoc Chaornaidh, chambered cairn, cairn and long mound E of (SM4564; Canmore ID 4741 and 4742), Cnoc Chaornaidh, chambered cairn 570m SW of (SM4022; Canmore ID 4739), Cnoc Chaornaidh, chambered cairn 560m WSW of (SM4023; Canmore ID 4738) and Cnoc Chaornaidh, chambered cairn 180m NNE of, Stratheskie (SM4045; Canmore ID 4606). The proximity of these burial monuments can give important insights into the Neolithic landscape and add to our understanding of social organisation, land division and land-use. The monument has the potential to enhance our understanding of the nature and development of Neolithic monumentality and burial, the nature of belief systems, ceremonial and burial practices.

Chambered cairns are found in a variety of locations. Some are placed in conspicuous locations within the landscape, such as on the summits of hills or on the shoulders of hills, perhaps to be seen on a skyline or otherwise in profile. Others are found in less conspicuous locations, for example on valley floors. Relationships to routeways and/or other ritual sites, locations near to good upland pasture and views over specific areas of land may also have had significance. The chambered cairn at Allt Eileag is positioned on a southeast facing slope above the River Oykel. It occupies a prominent position and is likely to have had extensive views to the south and southeast.

Associative Characteristics

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to this site's national importance.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it makes a significant addition to our understanding of the design and construction of burial monuments, the nature of burial and ritual practices and their significance in Neolithic society. The chambered cairn is an impressive monument which retains its field characteristics and can be compared with other chambered cairns that survive in the vicinity. As such it can significantly enhance our understanding of Neolithic society and economy, as well as the nature of belief systems, burial and ceremonial practices. It would have been an important component of the wider prehistoric landscape of settlement, agriculture and ritual and would have been a prominent part of the prehistoric landscape. Chambered cairns are one of our main sources of information for the Neolithic in Scotland and so are an important element in our understanding of the nature of Scotland's prehistoric society and landscape. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the meaning and importance of death and burial, and the placing of cairns within the landscape in the Neolithic period in northern Scotland and further afield.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 4740 (accessed on 21/08/2018).

Highland Historic Environment Record Reference: MHG7391 (accessed on 21/08/2018).

Henshall, A S. (1972). The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 2. Edinburgh. p. 564-6.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/4740/


HER/SMR Reference

MHG7391

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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