Ancient Monuments

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Groat's Loch, cairn 225m WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.3499 / 58°20'59"N

Longitude: -3.1776 / 3°10'39"W

OS Eastings: 331170

OS Northings: 940763

OS Grid: ND311407

Mapcode National: GBR L6JN.F2V

Mapcode Global: WH6F0.5D36

Entry Name: Groat's Loch, cairn 225m WSW of

Scheduled Date: 25 November 1981

Last Amended: 16 August 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM4338

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Wick

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a burial cairn, of circular platform type, which is likely to date from the late Iron Age or Early Historic period (200 to 900 AD). The cairn is visible as a mound of exposed stone with coursed edging in places. It is located on the crest of a terrace at around 110m above sea level, on gently sloping moorland which runs east southeast to the coast some 1.5km distant.

The cairn is circular on plan and measures approximately 3.5m in diameter and 0.5m in height. It is partly obscured by heather and peat but previous records show that the edging of the cairn survives, with up to three courses of stonework visible in places. The cairn, like other platform cairns, was constructed by building a low level band of coursed stonework which was then infilled with rubble or further stonework. A large stone, approximately 1m long, lying close to the centre of the cairn could be a fallen central standing stone – a common feature of barrows and cairns from this period. In 1977, a Pictish symbol stone was found, in two pieces, at the cairn. The larger section of the symbol stone was found close to the cairn with the smaller section lying directly on top of the cairn.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, centred on the monument and measures 13.5m in diameter. The scheduled area 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 monument was first scheduled in 1981, but the documentation did not meet current standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to make a significant addition to our knowledge and understanding of the past, particularly the design and construction of burial monuments, and the nature of belief systems and burial practices during the late Iron Age and Early Historic periods. The monument is a circular platform cairn which is an uncommon type of cairn, and it demonstrates very good field characteristics, including what may be a fallen central standing stone. This evidence enables us to interpret the cairn's form, function and position in the landscape. The monument is likely to have buried archaeological remains, including burials, artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence. The cairn is one of a small number of similar cairns in Scotland where Pictish symbol stones have been found. This co-occurrence of a symbol stone and cairn means that this monument is important for our understanding of Pictish society and culture, including the use of symbol stones. There are numerous other cairns in the vicinity of the monument, which together can contribute to our understanding of late Iron Age and early Historic society, its organisation, economy, religion and demography. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand funerary practice, death and burial in prehistoric and Early Historic times, and the placing of such monuments within the landscape.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 9065 (accessed on 18/03/2016).

Highland Council reference number MHG 2227 (accessed on 18/03/2016).

Ashmore, P J. (1981). 'Low cairns, long cists and symbol stones , Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 110.

Close-Brooks, J. (1984). 'Pictish and other burials , in Friell, J G P and Watson, W G, Pictish studies: settlement, burial and art in Dark Age northern Britain, British Archaeological Report, vol. 125. Oxford.

Gourlay, R. (1984). 'A symbol stone and cairn at Watenan, Caithness , in Friell, J G P and Watson, W G, Pictish studies: settlement, burial and art in Dark Age northern Britain, British Archaeological Report, vol. 125. Oxford.

Mack, A. (1997). Field guide to the Pictish symbol stones. Balgavies, Angus.

Mercer, R J. (1985). Archaeological field survey in northern Scotland: volume III: 1982-3, University of Edinburgh, Department of Archaeology, Occasional Paper No. 11. Edinburgh.

Ritchie, A. (2011). 'Cemeteries of platform cairns and long cists around Sinclair's Bay, Caithness', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 141.

Ritchie, J N G. (1985). Pictish symbol stones: a handlist 1985. Edinburgh.


HER/SMR Reference

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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