Ancient Monuments

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Garbeg Cottage, burial mounds 920m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in Aird and Loch Ness, Highland

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Latitude: 57.3563 / 57°21'22"N

Longitude: -4.4768 / 4°28'36"W

OS Eastings: 251093

OS Northings: 832248

OS Grid: NH510322

Mapcode National: GBR H9B8.L34

Mapcode Global: WH3FT.6CFF

Entry Name: Garbeg Cottage, burial mounds 920m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 7 February 1989

Last Amended: 2 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4635

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: field or field system; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Urquhart and Glenmoriston

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Aird and Loch Ness

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises a Pictish cemetery of first millennium AD date. It lies in rough pasture below a break in slope, on a low shoulder of ground overlooking an area of prehistoric field systems on flat ground near the top of a wide valley. The monument was first scheduled in 1989, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains (this includes cairns subsequently identified): the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The cemetery includes at least 14 square to trapezoidal mounds up to 0.2 m high and 5.5 m across, ten round mounds of varying size but up to 10 m across, and what is probably an earlier roundhouse. A ditch, with causeways across each corner, surrounds each square mound. All but one of the round barrows has a ditch or part of a ditch around it and one has an additional bank. Some of the barrows cluster together in roughly linear groups. A number of square and round barrows lie in the surrounding area, which is inter-dispersed with prehistoric clearance cairns and field boundary dykes. Four of the cairns within the cemetery have been partially excavated, one producing a fragment of a Pictish symbol stone.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, bounded by fences to the N and W, to include the cemetery, outlying burial cairns, some of the adjacent clearance cairns and dykes, and associated archaeological deposits, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling excludes the fences, and the top 0.3m of the trackway that dissects the area, 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: The monument is an extremely well-preserved example of a rare monument type, with cairns and barrows 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 un-mounded cist burials in the vicinity, and subsequent landuse as pasture means that there is a high likelihood of preservation of any archaeological features associated with the cemetery. The presence of both upstanding remains and preserved deposits means that this site has the potential to inform our understanding of the ritual and 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 unique to Scotland. The majority are only visible as cropmarks. Of the very small number of upstanding cemeteries, this is one of the two best examples. This monument is therefore in an almost unique position to tell us about how the different types of cairns and barrows that form these monuments appeared above ground, how they were constructed, what sort of archaeological deposits composed their upper levels, and how they were experienced and encountered. The juxtaposition with rare, upstanding nearby settlement remains that may be contemporary is unparalleled anywhere in Scotland. 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, fine and distinctive example of a cemetery of the first millennium AD with well-preserved associated archaeological deposits. It has been sampled by excavation and produced a fragment of Pictish symbol stone. The known extent of the cemetery has already substantially expanded and has the potential to increase understanding of Pictish burial customs, sepulchral architecture and social structures. Its relationship to a possible rare example of an early medieval settlement is unparalleled. 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 this monument as NH53SW15.


Alcock E A 1991, 'Pictish Stones Class I: where and how?' Glasgow Archaeol J, 15, 19.

Alcock E 1992, 'Burials and cemeteries in Scotland', in Edwards N and Lane A 1992, 127-8.

Edwards N and Lane A 1992, The Early Church in Wales and the West: recent work in Early Christian archaeology, history and place-names. Oxbow Monograph, 16, Oxford: Oxbow.

Friell J G P and Watson W G 1984, Settlement, Burial and Art in Dark Age Northern Britain, British Archaeological Reports, 125 .

Jackson A 1984, The Symbol Stones of Scotland: a social anthropological resolution to the problem of the Picts.

Mack A 1997, Field guide to the Pictish symbol stones Balgavies, Angus.

Ritchie J N G 1985, Pictish Symbol Stones: a handlist 1985. Edinburgh.

Stevenson J B 1984, 'Garbeg and Whitebridge: two square-barrow cemeteries in Invernesshire', in Friell J G P and Watson W G, 145-50.

Webster L E 1975, 'Medieval Britain in 1974. I. Pre-conquest', in Medieval Archaeol 19, 231.

Wedderburn, L M M, and Grime, D M, 1974 A cairn cemetery at Garbeg, Drumnadrochit. Preliminary Report, in Friell, J G P, and Watson, W G, 151-68.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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