Ancient Monuments

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McCole's Castle, chambered cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.3734 / 58°22'24"N

Longitude: -3.1709 / 3°10'15"W

OS Eastings: 331609

OS Northings: 943366

OS Grid: ND316433

Mapcode National: GBR L6JL.Q4F

Mapcode Global: WH6DT.8S9R

Entry Name: McCole's Castle, chambered cairn

Scheduled Date: 6 September 1934

Last Amended: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM467

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Wick

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument comprises the remains of a chambered cairn, a ritual and funerary monument dating from the Neolithic period (c. 4000-2000BC). The cairn was originally scheduled in 1934, but an inadequate area was included for its protection; the current scheduling rectifies this.

The cairn lies at about 115m OD on a ridge on the N slope of a hill, commanding extensive views over the surrounding countryside to the N. It is roughly circular in shape, measuring approximately 20m in diameter and standing up to 2m high. The body of the cairn was disturbed during the 19th century by antiquarian excavations, and the construction of an illicit still. These disturbances have revealed a linear burial chamber and entrance passage aligned WSW-ENE. The central chamber measures approximately 4.5m by 1.5m, and is subdivided into 3 compartments by pairs of divisional stones. At the time of excavation, the walls of the chamber were recorded as standing 2.75m high. The entrance passage runs off the chamber to the W and is also approximately 4.5m long by 0.75-1m wide. The chamber and entrance passage are currently filled with rubble, but large stones protruding through the body of the cairn indicate their position on the surface.

The area to be scheduled is circular, with a diameter of 40m, centred on the cairn, to include the remains described above, and an area around where evidence relating to the construction and use of the cairn may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved example of a chambered cairn. It has the potential, through excavation and analysis, to provide information on Neolithic ritual and funerary practices, and contemporary material cultural and agricultural economy. The area around Loch of Yarrows is notable for its concentration of prehistoric ritual sites. There are 5 chambered cairns in the vicinity of the loch, plus smaller round cairns, standing stones and stone rows. McCole's Castle is of particular interest within this group, as its circular design contrasts with the linear plan of the other chambered cairns in the vicinity.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is RCAHMS number ND 34 SW 40.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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