Scheduled Monument

Tordarroch, ring cairn 250m E ofSM11559

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cupmarks or cup-and-ring marks and similar rock art; ring cairn
Local Authority
Daviot And Dunlichity
NH 68020 33503
268020, 833503


The monument comprises the remains of a ring cairn of Early Bronze Age date belonging to the so-called Clava group of funerary and ritual monuments. It lies in improved pasture, on a plateau at approximately 195m above sea level.

The ring cairn measures 20m in diameter, within a kerb of stones up to 1.3m in height. The N arc has been destroyed. The centre of cairn is disturbed and robbed of stone. There is a flat slab on the SW whose upper surface measures 1.8m by 1.5m. It bears at least 36 cupmarks (pecked and/or ground depressions) measuring up to 75mm across and 25mm deep with one oblong cup measuring 100mm long by 75mm broad. Around the cairn, at a distance of 7m from it, there is a circle of monoliths; eight stones remain, one on the WSW has fallen. The tallest stone is on the SW, measuring 2.25m in height.

A drainage ditch crosses the cairn on the E and a wall on the SW. A post-and-wire fence passes close to the SW stone in the outer ring of monoliths. The ring cairn is within sight of two further cupmarked stones at NH 67912 33621 and NH 67925 33622.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the visible remains and an area around in which evidence relating to the construction and use of the site may be expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling excludes the above-ground portions of the existing fencing, the existing drainage ditch and associated pipework, silt trap and top cover-plates crossing the monument, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: Despite past disturbance and erosion, the monument retains important field characteristics that clearly identify it as belonging to this relatively rare class of monument. From the excavation of related monuments we now understand that the remains associated with ring cairns 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. Elements of the inner and outer kerbs of the cairn are present and the open central area is clear. Though largely ruined it is evident that the monument had been particularly impressive, covering a larger area and employing more massive stones than is usual in the Clava cairns. The monument as a whole is still clearly visible in the landscape and the monument potentially preserves archaeological deposits relating to prehistoric burial rites.

Contextual characteristics: The site's surviving field characteristics, with the tallest monoliths at the SW, and its location on a SW-NE oriented valley floor close to a river, identify it as a Clava-type ring cairn, a class of Early Bronze Age funerary monument peculiar to the NE of Scotland. Clava cairns are a small, regionally defined group of 50 or so prehistoric monuments which are only 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. Comparing this monument with nearby prehistoric funerary monuments and others outwith the region would therefore improve our understanding of regional identity and society. Prehistoric rock art is often found on and near Clava cairns. Two cupmarked stones are located 175m NW, within sight of the ring cairn, and are likely to form part of the same prehistoric 'ritual' complex.

Associative characteristics: It is the view of most prehistorians that there was an intimate relationship between the religious beliefs expressed by monuments such as Tordarroch, the surrounding landscape and the movements of the main astronomical bodies (these cairns share a common orientation to the S and SW, which correlates with movements of the sun and moon across the southern sky). This astronomical link continues to generate considerable interest today. The number of Clava cairn cemeteries within Strathnairn indicates that the valley had special importance in the Early Bronze Age.

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 what is happening elsewhere in the British Isles. It is an upstanding monument with the potential to reveal much about funerary and ritual practice in the prehistoric communities of NE Scotland. The loss of the monument would affect our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistoric landscape and its inhabitants.



RCAHMS record the monument as NH63NW 3; Highland Council SMR as NH63SE0003.


RCAHMS, NH63SE 3, Tordarroch Stone Circle and chambered cairn from SW, N/18.

RCAHMS, NH63SE 3,86,16 Tordarroch Stone circle; cairn: ring; cup-markings 6790 3363; building 6798; enclosure 3380, C26297.

RCAHMS, NH63SE 3, Tordarroch Stone Circle; Cairn: ring, C26293.


Bradley R 2000, THE GOOD STONES: A NEW INVESTIGATION OF THE CLAVA CAIRNS, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland monograph series No. 17, Edinburgh, 7, 176, 178, 182, 184.

Fraser J 1884, 'Descriptive notes on the stone circles of Strathnairn and neighbourhood of Inverness', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 18, 331-2.

Henshall A S 1963, THE CHAMBERED TOMBS OF SCOTLAND, 1, Edinburgh, 385, INV 48.

Jolly W 1882, 'On cup-marked stones in the neighbourhood of Inverness; with an appendix on cup-marked stones in the Western Islands', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 16, 324-5.

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.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

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 (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Tordarroch, ring cairn 250m E of

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 25/09/2023 08:31