Ancient Monuments

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Balnacrae, chambered cairn 230m WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Cromarty Firth, Highland

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Latitude: 57.6477 / 57°38'51"N

Longitude: -4.4588 / 4°27'31"W

OS Eastings: 253350

OS Northings: 864635

OS Grid: NH533646

Mapcode National: GBR H8CH.VQS

Mapcode Global: WH3DG.G1ZJ

Entry Name: Balnacrae, chambered cairn 230m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 24 March 1964

Last Amended: 10 May 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2396

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Dingwall

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Cromarty Firth

Traditional County: Ross-shire


The monument is the remains of a chambered cairn dating from the Neolithic period, probably built between 3800 and 2500 BC.  It is visible as a group of large upstanding stones defining a chamber and an entrance passage, and is surrounded by a slight scarp that probably indicates the original extent of the cairn. The cairn lies 245m above sea level, part way up the northwest side of Strath Sgitheach. The River Sgitheach is about 600m to the south southeast and there are long views up the strath to the south southwest. 

The monument is an Orkney-Cromarty type chambered cairn with the chamber aligned northeast by southwest and is defined by several large stones, some upright or leaning, others slumped. The chamber measures about 7m long by 4m wide. At the northeast end there are two low, transverse portal stones that give access to the chamber from a passage about 5.5m long and 1.5m wide. The remains of a low scarp surrounding the stones of the chamber and passage suggest the original cairn measured about 27m in diameter.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 40m in diameter, centred on the north corner of the chamber, to include 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 monument was first scheduled in 1964, but the documentation did not meet current standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument has the potential to enhance understanding of the past, in particular the design and construction of burial monuments and the nature of burial practices and belief systems. Ritual and funerary monuments are often our main source of evidence for human activity during the Neolithic in Scotland. They are particularly important for enhancing our understanding of Neolithic society, its organisation, economy, religion and demography. This monument retains its field characteristics to a marked degree. The large upright stones of the chamber are visually impressive and the form of the monument can contribute to our understanding of the development and architecture of chambered cairns. Chambered cairns are an important surviving component of the wider prehistoric landscape of land-use, settlement and ritual and the position of Balnacrae within the landscape is likely to be significant. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the meaning and importance of death and burial in prehistoric times and the placing of cairns within the landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 12919 (accessed on 27/04/2016).

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG8930 (accessed on 27/04/2016).

Henshall, A S 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland. Vol 1. Edinburgh. P.334-335

Davidson, J L and Henshall, A S 1989, The chambered cairns of Orkney: an inventory of the structures and their contents, Edinburgh.


HER/SMR Reference

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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