Scheduled Monument

Crow Wood Cottage, chambered cairn and standing stones 265m W ofSM11546

Status: Designated

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Summary

Date Added
21/02/2008
Type
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn; ring cairn
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Dores
NGR
NH 62159 38964
Coordinates
262159, 838964

Description

The monument comprises a Clava-type chambered cairn, a prehistoric burial site dating to the Early Bronze Age. It is situated at a height of approximately 64 m above sea level on a small hill-crest between Scaniport and Dores on the SE side of Loch Ness. It now occupies an unplanted clearing within a block of mixed woodland in Glen Mor. Although it is now overgrown by gorse and bracken, and surrounded by trees, it would previously have overlooked sloping fertile ground.

The smaller stones of the cairn material have been completely removed, but the monoliths of the outer circle and the inner and outer kerbs as well as the central chamber are mostly still in place and accord with the plan of the site published in 1956. The irregular monoliths are of various sizes. The outer circle of stones has a diameter of approximately 22 m and consists of 8 upright and fallen stones up to 1.75 m high. The outer kerb of the cairn has a diameter of approximately 9 m and consists of 21 upright and fallen stones ranging from 0.5 m to 1.0 m high. The rubble bank is 3-4 m thick, surrounding a central court. The E side of the central court lining remains, comprising 3 smaller stones. The passage leading to the central court is on the S side. The largest stones of the outer kerb flank the entrance and the smallest are on the E side. Excavation within the central court in 1952-3 revealed a small bowl-shaped pit and scatter of cremated bones.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the visible remains and an area around them in which traces of associated activity may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: From the excavation of related monuments we now understand that the remains associated with chambered cairns or passage graves such as this, can include stone platforms enclosed by a circle or 'kerb' of stones, larger surrounding stone circles and rubble banks or 'rays' joining them as well as other features, and that they have a complex history of development. So, despite the excavation of the central court of the cairn in the 1950s, the monument still has the potential to include well-preserved remains that can help us to better understand the construction and use of this site. It is also likely to seal information about the prehistoric environment that existed at the time of its construction and use. Key structural characteristics - the kerb and outer stone circle are still preserved and visible. Recent archaeological fieldwork under the direction of Professor Richard Bradley has highlighted the significance of the selection, position and orientation of the kerb stones in this type of site. The monument therefore has a good potential to contribute to future understanding of Early Bronze Age funerary and ritual practices.

Contextual characteristics: This monument is an example of a small, regionally defined group of around 50 prehistoric monuments, known as Clava cairns, which are found in the Inverness and Moray Firth area, particularly along river valleys and low ground south of the Firth. Examples generally include components of stone circles, ring-cairns and passage graves. Related monuments are named after the monuments at Balnuaran of Clava, where this type of site was first recognised. The monuments tend to have a dominant position in relation to the immediate location only.

Associative characteristics: It is the view of most prehistorians that there was an intimate relationship between the religious beliefs expressed by monuments such as the Crow Wood Clava cairn, the surrounding landscape and the movements of the main astronomical bodies. This astronomical link continues to generate considerable interest today. The monument was well known among antiquarian investigators and features among the sites visited by Johnson and Boswell during their Highland tour of 1773.

National Importance: This monument is of national importance because it represents a rare and regionally distinctive class of Early Bronze Age monument that can help us to understand burial and ritual practices in NE Scotland and their relationship to practices elsewhere in the British Isles. It is a key component of an extensive and well-preserved cemetery and has the potential to provide important information about the activities that took place here and how these contribute to the development of this ceremonial landscape as a whole.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NH63NW 5.

References:

Anderson G 1831, 'On some of the stone circles and cairns in the neighbourhood of Inverness', ARCHAEOL SCOT 3, 212-13.

Beaton A J 1882, 'Notes on the antiquities of the Black Isle, Ross-shire, with plans and sections', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 16, 491-2.

Bradley R 2000, THE GOOD STONES: A NEW INVESTIGATION OF THE CLAVA CAIRNS, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland monograph series No. 17, Edinburgh, 145, 146, 161, 165, 168, 176, 182.

Fraser J 1884, 'Descriptive notes on the stone circles of Strathnairn and neighbourhood of Inverness', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 18, 356-7.

Henshall A S 1963, THE CHAMBERED TOMBS OF SCOTLAND, 1, Edinburgh, 380-1, INV 37.

Lisowski F P 1958, 'Cremations from the Culdoich, Leys and Kinchyle sites', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 89, 1955-6, 83-90.

Piggott S 1956, 'Excavations in passage-graves and ring-cairns of the Clava group, 1952-3', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 88, 184-8.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

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Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

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