Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Torboll Farm, cairn 1450m WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in East Sutherland and Edderton, Highland

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Latitude: 57.9574 / 57°57'26"N

Longitude: -4.1314 / 4°7'52"W

OS Eastings: 273975

OS Northings: 898444

OS Grid: NH739984

Mapcode National: GBR J75P.N8W

Mapcode Global: WH4D6.H8X3

Entry Name: Torboll Farm, cairn 1450m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 7 May 1935

Last Amended: 9 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1819

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)

Location: Dornoch

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: East Sutherland and Edderton

Traditional County: Sutherland


The monument comprises a prehistoric burial cairn, between 4500 and 3500 years old, sitting on the eastern edge of a knoll in rough open moorland, just within a birch wood.

The cairn is roughly circular, measuring about 17.3 m from N to S, by 16.6 m transversely, and up to 2 m in height on the E side, which would have given this cairn pronounced visual emphasis when viewed from the E. Around the base of the cairn is a kerb of large contiguous boulders, averaging about 0.3 m in height and 0.4 m to 0.6 m in length. On top of the cairn is a slight circular depression, approximately 2 m in diameter. The main body of the cairn is composed of small stones covered in heather, grass and a small number of birch trees; a pheasant pen has also been constructed on the SE corner.

The monument was first scheduled in 1935, but an incorrect area was defined. The present rescheduling rectifies this. Furthermore, no legal documentation supporting the original scheduling survives.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the cairn and an area around in which associated evidence for its construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The above-ground parts of the pheasant pen fence-posts are to be excluded from the scheduling, 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: There is a strong likelihood that the characteristic structural features that define this class of monument, and the internal and external archaeological deposits associated with this particular monument, remain well preserved, despite the encroachment of trees and heather. The height of the mound and the survival and remaining conspicuousness of the kerb, a distinctive feature of this particular cairn, would appear to confirm this.

Contextual characteristics: The monument occupies a prominent position in the landscape with wide views over the surrounding moorland, where there is evidence for prehistoric settlement and associated field systems. It would have formed a significant place within the landscape of this area throughout later prehistory.

Few burial mounds in the eastern part of Sutherland have been identified in similar contexts, close by settlements, clearance cairns and agricultural activity. The majority are also either small with few distinctive architectural features, or much larger chambered cairns. This moderately large cairn with distinctive features is therefore a rare typological example that provides an opportunity for future study of how the spheres of life, agriculture and death interacted in the live of prehistoric societies within this region.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of a rare cairn form. It has the potential to inform future research about the dating and development of differing cairn types, and about the various ways in which these different forms may have been used, perceived and encountered. Its prominence suggests that it would have formed an intrinsic part of the prehistoric landscape in this area, coming to be incorporated into, and reverenced within, an agricultural and settled landscape in later prehistory. Its loss would affect our ability to understand this monument class as well as the surrounding landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NH79NW 14.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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