Ancient Monuments

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Rhives, chambered cairn 320m NNE of

A Scheduled Monument in East Sutherland and Edderton, Highland

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Latitude: 57.9795 / 57°58'46"N

Longitude: -3.9801 / 3°58'48"W

OS Eastings: 282993

OS Northings: 900626

OS Grid: NC829006

Mapcode National: GBR J7JM.ZGB

Mapcode Global: WH4D2.TPWR

Entry Name: Rhives, chambered cairn 320m NNE of

Scheduled Date: 6 April 1935

Last Amended: 16 September 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1814

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Golspie

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: East Sutherland and Edderton

Traditional County: Sutherland


The monument is the remains of a chambered cairn dating from the Neolithic period. The cairn was probably built between 3800 and 2500 BC. It is visible as a group of large slabs set on end that define a chamber with at least two compartments, positioned on top of a low, grass-covered mound. The cairn lies 60m above sea level, part way up a slope that overlooks the coastal strip at Golspie.

The monument is an Orkney-Cromarty type chambered cairn. Seven large edge-set slabs, the tallest 1.5m high, define a two-compartment chamber. The inner compartment lies to the northwest and measures about 2.9m southwest - northeast by 2m transversely. The outer compartment is to the southeast and measures about 2.1m southwest-northeast by 1.9m transversely. Two slabs set 0.7m apart appear to define an entrance. An eighth slab indicates the northeast wall of an entrance passage or third compartment. The mound surrounding the chamber is now difficult to define, but researchers who visited in the early 20th century suggested it measures about 18m across.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 40m in diameter, centred on the division between the two compartments 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 scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of a post and wire fence. The monument was first scheduled in 1935, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument has potential to make a significant contribution to our 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 such as chambered cairns are often our main source of evidence for the Neolithic in Scotland. They are particularly important for enhancing our understanding of Neolithic society, its organisation, economy, religion and demography.  This example retains its field characteristics to a marked degree. The large upright stones of the chamber are visually impressive and indicate a twin compartment arrangement that differs from some other examples in the area. Rhives is part of an important group of well-preserved Neolithic burial monuments situated close to the coast between Beauly and Brora. They are an important component of the wider prehistoric landscape of settlement, land use and ritual. 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 6589 (accessed on 27/06/2016).

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG10899.

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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