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Cairn of Get, chambered cairn, cairns and cists

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.3532 / 58°21'11"N

Longitude: -3.1747 / 3°10'28"W

OS Eastings: 331347

OS Northings: 941125

OS Grid: ND313411

Mapcode National: GBR L6JN.8FF

Mapcode Global: WH6F0.69HP

Entry Name: Cairn of Get, chambered cairn, cairns and cists

Scheduled Date: 27 September 1934

Last Amended: 16 August 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90048

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn

Location: Wick

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness

Description

The monument is a group of prehistoric funerary structures including three cairns and several cists (stone-lined graves). The largest structure is a chambered cairn dating from the Neolithic (about 4000BC to 2500BC). Two smaller, circular cairns probably date to the Bronze Age (2500BC to 800BC) or the Iron Age to Early Historic period (about 800BC to AD900). The circular cairns each contain evidence for a cist and four other isolated cists may be contemporary with the cairns. The site is located within open moorland and lies around 110m above sea level.

The chambered cairn is of the Orkney-Cromarty type found mostly in northeast Scotland and the Orkney Islands. It measures approximately 18m in diameter and 2.25m in height and is 'short horned' on plan; the north and south faces of the cairn have pairs of horns projecting, forming concave ends and forecourts. The entrance, on the south, is flanked by two large portal stones, up to 0.6m high. A passage around 3.25m long, lined with stone walling, leads to a small square shaped ante-chamber, the entrance again flanked by portal stones, up to 1.3m high.  At the north of the ante-chamber is the main burial chamber, the entrance to which is flanked by portal stones up to 1.7m high. The main chamber retains some evidence of its corbelled stone roof. Two circular cairns are located to the northeast and southeast of the chambered cairn. The northeast cairn is visible as a low mound around 9m in diameter and 1m in high with a shallow depression in the top. The southern cairn is visible as a broad, circular band of stones about 10m in diameter and 0.6m high. This structure resembles a platform cairn of Iron Age to Early Historic date (800BC to AD 900), and both circular cairns may form part of a cemetery dating to this period. The circular cairns each include evidence for a stone-lined cist and there are at least four other cists nearby, each represented by at least one stone slab and measuring up to 1.3m in length, 0.7m in width and 0.4m deep. The monument is located on the crest of an undulating terrace, on gently sloping moorland which runs east southeast to the coast some 1.5km distant.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan. 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 1934, but the documentation did not meet current standards: the present amendment rectifies this. The above-ground elements of the boardwalk path and information board are specifically excluded from the schedule.

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 prehistoric burial monuments, and the nature of belief systems and burial practices. The chambered cairn is of a rare type and has excellent field characteristics, allowing us to interpret its form, function and position in the landscape. Its entrance passage, three sets of portal stones and corbelled burial chamber are notable, well-preserved features. The two circular cairns potentially represent relatively rare platform cairns and are supplemented by at least four additional, individual cists. The monument has potential for the presence of further buried archaeological remains, including human burials, artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence. The time depth displayed by this monument is unusual and important, offering a rare opportunity to study the development of burial practices, at a single site, over three to four millennia. There are numerous other cairns in the vicinity of the monument, which together can contribute to our understanding of prehistoric 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 prehistoric funerary practice in Caithness, and the placing of cairns and cists within the landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 9046 (accessed on 05/04/2016).

Highland Council http://her.highland.gov.uk/ reference number MHG 2210 (accessed on 05/04/2016).

Anderson, J. (1870). 'On the horned cairns of Caithness, their structural arrangement, contents of chambers , Procedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 7, 1866-8. Pages: 480-512.

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.

Davidson and Henshall, J L and A S. (1991). The chambered cairns of Caithness: an inventory of the structures and their contents. Edinburgh.

Gibson, A. (1985). 'Cairn of Get (Wick) , Discovery and Excavation Scotland.

Henshall, A S. (1963). The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 1. Edinburgh.

Henshall, A S. (1972). The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 2. Edinburgh.

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.

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. Pages: 178-80, No. 559.

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.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Cairn O'Get
https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/cairn-oget
Find out more

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/9046/

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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