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Carrachan Dubh, chambered cairn 320m WNW of Glenbain

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.1506 / 58°9'2"N

Longitude: -4.9564 / 4°57'23"W

OS Eastings: 226112

OS Northings: 921781

OS Grid: NC261217

Mapcode National: GBR G745.VTZ

Mapcode Global: WH28K.VD0J

Entry Name: Carrachan Dubh, chambered cairn 320m WNW of Glenbain

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1935

Last Amended: 29 August 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1774

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Assynt

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: North, West and Central Sutherland

Traditional County: Sutherland

Description

The monument is 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 stony mound measuring around 15m in diameter and over 2m in height. The monument is located on a ridge above the north bank of the River Traligill, at about 120m above sea level.

The scheduled area is circular on plan with a diameter of 35m. 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. The scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of the stone dyke to the west.

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 stone robbing and collapse is evident on the top and on the north side of the cairn, this has not disturbed the overall profile and the monument stands close to its original scale and appearance. There is no visible evidence of the chamber but a large stone within the body of the cairn on the south side could represent a displaced capstone or lintel. It is highly likely that internal structures such as a burial chamber or passage 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 Carrachan Dubh is important as an upstanding, well-preserved and largely undisturbed example. It is part of a wider group of chambered cairns in the area, including Allt Sgiathaig (Canmore ID 4650), Cnoc Bad na Cleithe (scheduled monument SM1807; Canmore ID 4634), Ledbeg River (Canmore ID 4642) and Ledmore (scheduled monument SM1804; Canmore ID 4643). 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 Carrachan Dubh is positioned on a slight ridge on the north bank of the River Traligill. The ridge enhances the height of the cairn and increase its prominence. The monument has views along the river valley to the east and towards Loch Assynt to the west, while the mountains of Quinag and Ben More are prominent to the northwest and southeast respectively.

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 4651 (accessed on 14/06/2018).

Highland Historic Environment Record Reference: MHG13023 (accessed on 14/06/2018).

Cavers, G. and Hudson, G. (2010) Assynt's hidden lives: and archaeological survey of the parish, AOC/ Historic Assynt.

RCAHMS (1911) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. Edinburgh. p. 4.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/4651/


HER/SMR Reference

MHG13023

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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