Scheduled Monument

Old Corry, cairns 820m NE of, Isle of Skye. SM13673

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
16/11/2017
Type
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain); chambered cairn; cist; kerb cairn
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Strath
NGR
NG 62903 23781
Coordinates
162903, 823781

Description

The scheduled monument consists of three prehistoric burial monuments surviving as stone structures with underlying archaeological features and deposits. These structures are likely to date from the Late Neolithic to Bronze Age (the fourth and third millennia BC). The small group is located approximately 1.5km to the west of Broadford Bay at 20m above sea level.

The three burial structures are positioned in an approximately north-south alignment. The northernmost is approximately 5m across and is visible as a stone lined grave with scattered stone surrounding. The central example is visible as two concentric circuits of stones covering a circular area of approximately 8.5m in diameter and enclosing a central space with a depressed oval-shaped feature. Loose stone material is spread across the feature and beyond, to its east. The southernmost structure is also circular, comprising an outer circuit of stones or kerb and inner burial space defined by a sub-circular setting of stones. There is a possible arc of placed stone to the immediate north northeast of this structure and the space within and between is also covered in loose stone material.    

The scheduled area is a circle measuring 60m in diameter, to include 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.

Statement of National Importance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows

Intrinsic Characteristics

This is a small group of three burial monuments where overlying loose cairn material has been largely removed, revealing the position and remains of burials and the lower courses of enclosing structures; the structure of the chambers, an enclosing kerb and cairn material. Two of the group (the southern and central example) are thought to be chambered cairns, a particular type of burial monument while the third (northernmost) displays a specific form of burial structure – a stone cist.

The chambered cairns have features found in a form of prehistoric burial known as the Hebridean passage grave / chambered cairn. The central example shows an oval depression, possibly the position of a burial and both examples show what may be the remains of a chamber and connecting passage from the outside to their centre, as well as kerbing. There is a spread of loose cairn material around all three structures and in the case of the southernmost example researchers have highlighted a deliberate curved alignment of stones suggesting a further, adjacent structure.

The surviving structures demonstrate good potential for buried archaeological remains such as human remains, artefacts and environmental remains such as pollen and charcoal, within, beneath and around the site. The buried archaeological materials and the structural remains of the cairns have the potential to provide information about the date of the monument, ritual and funerary practices, and the structure of Neolithic and Bronze Age society. Any artefacts and environmental material would enhance understanding of contemporary economy, land-use and environment.

Contextual Characteristics

Chambered cairns are found throughout Scotland, with concentrations in the north and west. There are 12 examples of chambered cairns identified on the Isle of Skye and this example is part of a local group of four sites around Broadford Bay and by the Broadford River (Canmore IDs 11577, 11585, 11601). The field characteristics of these examples accord with a class of cairn known as Hebridean passage graves - distributed across the Hebrides, Isle of Skye and the mainland west coast. The two examples here are likely to be part of this class; they were of round shape with passages in their eastern halves. The burials would have been covered by cairn material and the edges of the cairns would probably have had a kerb.

This is a particularly interesting example because of the close clustering of three separate funerary structures indicating a significant density of burial in this area. The monument has the potential to enhance our understanding of the nature and development of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age monumentality and burial, the nature of belief systems, ceremonial and burial practice. It can provide an insight into the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age landscape and the connections, routeways and use of space between different regions. This example is located on low lying ground and a north-south natural routeway between Broadford Bay to the East and the dominant high ground of Beinn na Caillich to the west.   

Associative Characteristics

There are no known associative characteristics which significantly contribute to the cultural significance of this site.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it makes a significant addition to our understanding of the design and construction of prehistoric burial monuments, the nature of burial and ritual practices and their significance in Neolithic society. The monument is an impressive group of three burial structures, with two exhibiting the remains of complex cairn architecture. The field characteristics survive largely intact and there is significant potential for surviving archaeological deposits associated with the structural remains. The group can help us understand more about Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age society and economy, the nature of belief systems, burial and ceremonial practices, together with the development of cairn design. The cairns would have been visible features in the landscape as part of a local group of four broadly similar monuments. The complex is situated on an important natural routeway north and southwards across the Isle of Skye. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the meaning and importance of death, burial and ritual in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age and the placing of cairns within the landscape of the Isle of Skye.

References

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number 11596 (accessed on 10 October 2017).

High Council HER Reference MHG 5313 (accessed on 10 October 2017).

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

HER/SMR Reference

  • http://her.highland.gov.uk/SingleResult.aspx?uid=MHG5313

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 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).

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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Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

Old Corry, cairns 820m NE of, Isle of Skye, general view of the middle and southern two structures. Excavated structures within forest clearing.
Old Corry, cairns 820m NE of, Isle of Skye, close up view of the northern most burial structure. Structure has been cleared of turf and has central upstanding stone, which ring of other stones surrounding it. Excavated area is full of water.

Printed: 17/09/2019 01:16