Scheduled Monument

Laikenbuie, cairns 300m SSW ofSM11609

Status: Designated


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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 domestic and defensive: field clearance cairn, cairnfield, Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain); kerb cairn
Local Authority
NH 90885 52210
290885, 852210


The monument comprises a group of cairns of prehistoric date, situated at around 65m above sea level in improved grassland used for grazing and camping. The cairns occupy a gently sloping plateau above Auldearn Burn on the NW side of Laiken Glen, approximately 5km SSE of the town of Nairn.

There are approximately 50 cairns in the group, ranging in size from about 5m to 11m in diameter and up to about 1m in height. Some of these have the appearance of piles of stone cleared from the land to enable cultivation of the surrounding land during the Bronze Age (around 4000 - 2500 years ago). However, a number of the cairns have kerbs of boulders and hollows in their centres, suggesting that they were constructed or modified in order to fulfil a ritual, ceremonial or funerary function. One of these, towards the NE corner of the group, includes an unusual symmetrical arrangement of five kerbstones on its S side; a small white granite boulder flanked by two gneiss stones, which are in turn flanked by two larger pink granite stones. This arrangement of stones bears resonance with the rear chamber wall in the SW cairn at Balnuaran of Clava, suggesting that the builders of the group at Laikenbuie were aware of the wider Bronze Age Clava tradition of cairn construction in the area. Limited archaeological excavation of this cairn and another nearby has shown them to have a shallow dished profile. This profile bears similarities with another of the cairns at Clava.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around in which evidence for their construction and use may survive, bounded on the E and SE by a drystane dyke and on the NW by a modern post-and-wire fence, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The modern post-and-wire fence and drystane dyke are specifically excluded from the scheduling, to allow for their maintenance. Also excluded from the scheduling is a large pile of modern stone clearance at the centre of the field and a small modern circle of stones and trees periodically used for camping activities.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: Visible as a series of upstanding features, the monument is an excellent example of a group of well-preserved Bronze Age cairns, some of which have been modified in prehistory to fulfil a ritual, ceremonial or funerary function. The monument therefore has the potential to further our understanding of Bronze Age agricultural and funerary practices. A lack of intensive landuse in recent times indicates a high potential for good preservation of archaeological deposits within and around the cairns. There is a high likelihood that a buried soil is preserved beneath the cairns, which would provide evidence of the Bronze Age environment within which people built the cairns.

Contextual characteristics: The cairns are likely to have been an intrinsic part of the Bronze Age landscape and can be compared and contrasted with nearby prehistoric funerary monuments and others outside the region to create an understanding of regional identity and society during this period. The monument lies within the area of the Bronze Age Clava cairn tradition. Clava itself lies approximately 18 km to the W of Laikenbuie, and morphological similarities can be drawn between the Laikenbuie group and other cairns in the Clava tradition. Its proximity to a river or water course is a shared feature among the class and the Laikenbuie group does not appear to dominate a wide landscape, again like the examples at Clava. Study of the group at Laikenbuie and other nearby Bronze Age monuments can enable an understanding of how people positioned such sites within the landscape, as well as provide contexts for identity and society.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of a group of prehistoric cairns. It has the potential to inform future research about the dating and development of differing cairn types, and about the various ways in which these different forms may have been used, perceived and encountered. The old ground surfaces sealed by the cairns can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like and how it was being managed by the prehistoric farmers who built the cairns. The loss of this monument would affect our ability to understand this monument class as well as its position in the surrounding landscape.



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NH95SW 55.


Bradley R 2000, THE GOOD STONES: A NEW INVESTIGATION OF THE CLAVA CAIRNS, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland monograph series number 17, Edinburgh, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Scott R and Jack A 2005, LAIKENBUIE CAIRN FIELD AND DISHED KERB CAIRNS, unpublished interim excavation report.

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.

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Printed: 20/04/2024 04:20