Scheduled Monument

Rhives, chambered cairn 320m NNE ofSM1814

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
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: chambered cairn
Local Authority
NC 82993 626
282993, 900626


The monument is the remains of a chambered cairn dating from the Neolithic period. The cairn was probably built between 3800 and 2500 BC. It is visible as a group of large slabs set on end that define a chamber with at least two compartments, positioned on top of a low, grass-covered mound. The cairn lies 60m above sea level, part way up a slope that overlooks the coastal strip at Golspie.

The monument is an Orkney-Cromarty type chambered cairn. Seven large edge-set slabs, the tallest 1.5m high, define a two-compartment chamber. The inner compartment lies to the northwest and measures about 2.9m southwest - northeast by 2m transversely. The outer compartment is to the southeast and measures about 2.1m southwest-northeast by 1.9m transversely. Two slabs set 0.7m apart appear to define an entrance. An eighth slab indicates the northeast wall of an entrance passage or third compartment. The mound surrounding the chamber is now difficult to define, but researchers who visited in the early 20th century suggested it measures about 18m across.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 40m in diameter, centred on the division between the two compartments of the chamber, 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. The scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of a post and wire fence. The monument was first scheduled in 1935, but the documentation did not meet modern standards: the present amendment rectifies this.

Statement of National Importance

The monument has potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular the design and construction of burial monuments and the nature of burial practices and belief systems. Ritual and funerary monuments such as chambered cairns are often our main source of evidence for the Neolithic in Scotland. They are particularly important for enhancing our understanding of Neolithic society, its organisation, economy, religion and demography.  This example retains its field characteristics to a marked degree. The large upright stones of the chamber are visually impressive and indicate a twin compartment arrangement that differs from some other examples in the area. Rhives is part of an important group of well-preserved Neolithic burial monuments situated close to the coast between Beauly and Brora. They are an important component of the wider prehistoric landscape of settlement, land use and ritual. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the meaning and importance of death and burial in prehistoric times and the placing of cairns within the landscape.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 6589 (accessed on 27/06/2016).

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG10899.

Davidson, J L and Henshall, A S 1989, The chambered cairns of Orkney: an inventory of the structures and their contents, Edinburgh.

HER/SMR Reference


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 Rhives, chambered cairn 320m NNE of

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 20/04/2024 06:07