Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Hangman's Hill, cairn 380m east of Kinchyle

A Scheduled Monument in Nairn and Cawdor, Highland

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Latitude: 57.5517 / 57°33'5"N

Longitude: -3.9147 / 3°54'52"W

OS Eastings: 285519

OS Northings: 852898

OS Grid: NH855528

Mapcode National: GBR J8PR.ZG6

Mapcode Global: WH4G7.VG25

Entry Name: Hangman's Hill, cairn 380m E of Kinchyle

Scheduled Date: 15 October 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11603

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Croy and Dalcross

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Nairn and Cawdor

Traditional County: Nairnshire


The monument, known locally as 'Hangman's Hill', comprises a Bronze Age burial cairn surrounded by a bank. It survives as an uncultivated island within improved pasture, lying at 100 m above sea level on the N bank of the River Nairn, 220 m E of Kinchyle.

The monument comprises a scrub- and gorse-covered, sub-circular mound, measuring around 25 m in diameter and standing to a height of around 3.3 m. Composed of a mixture of earth and water-worn stone from the nearby river, a bank of probable contemporary date, 3.5 m in width and 0.6 m in height, encloses the mound.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on the top of the mound, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area extends up to, but does not include, the modern fence that runs from NE to SW adjacent to the SE perimeter of the mound.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: Visible as a substantial upstanding feature, the monument is an excellent example of a well-preserved Bronze Age barrow and contemporary surrounding bank. A lack of intensive landuse in recent times, as suggested by only minimal encroachment of ploughing into the outer bank, indicates the potential for good preservation of funerary remains and archaeological deposits within the mound. The potential exists for a buried soil to remain preserved beneath the mound, which would provide evidence of the Bronze-Age environment within which people built the monument. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of Bronze Age funerary practices, as well as inform our knowledge of the structural features of large barrows and surrounding banks.

Contextual characteristics: This monument belongs to a very small group of prehistoric burial monuments in Scotland which have berms, banks, ditches or platforms associated with them, and which survive as upstanding monuments. In the absence of excavation, we cannot be sure whether or not there were originally any other earthworks associated with the monument. Its likely relationship with a cluster of three smaller cairns 400m to the NNW enhances its value. A range of prehistoric funerary sites are clustered along the Nairn valley, including a large group of cropmarks indicating a Bronze-Age settlement and ritual site 470m to the ENE. Spatial analysis of this barrow and other burial sites may further our understanding of funerary site location, the structure of society, and the Bronze Age economy. Information gained from the preservation and study of this site has the potential to help us gain an insight into the wider knowledge of Bronze-Age funerary practices across Scotland.

Associative characteristics: This monument represents a style of architecture developed during the Bronze Age as an expression of death and burial. It has survived as a prominent landscape feature throughout later history and today, continues to act as a marker along the course of the River Nairn.

The placename indicates that the monument has an association, real or imagined, with a place of execution.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of a sub-class of Bronze Age burial architecture that is rare in Scotland. It also fits into a distinctive pattern of prehistoric burial and settlement along the River Nairn. It therefore has the potential to contribute to our understanding of local burial practice and to allow us to compare this to the rest of Britain and further afield. Skeletal remains and artefacts from such burials have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. The old ground surfaces sealed by the monument can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like and how it was being managed by the prehistoric farmers who buried their dead here. The monument has been a constant in the surrounding landscape since its construction along the coastal plain of the Moray Firth, where its more modern biography includes an association (real or imagined) with a place of execution. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape, as well as our knowledge of Bronze Age social structure and economy.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NH85SE 11 and it is recorded in the Highland Council SMR as NH85SE0011.


Feachem R W 1973, 'Berms, banks, ditches and platforms associated with barrows in Scotland', SCOTT ARCHAEOL FORUM 4, 106-107.

RCAHMS, 1978, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF NAIRN DISTRICT, HIGHLAND REGION, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland series No. 5, 8, No 15, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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