Scheduled Monument

Torboll Farm, cairn 1450m WSW ofSM1819

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
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)
Local Authority
NH 73975 98444
273975, 898444


The monument comprises a prehistoric burial cairn, between 4500 and 3500 years old, sitting on the eastern edge of a knoll in rough open moorland, just within a birch wood.

The cairn is roughly circular, measuring about 17.3 m from N to S, by 16.6 m transversely, and up to 2 m in height on the E side, which would have given this cairn pronounced visual emphasis when viewed from the E. Around the base of the cairn is a kerb of large contiguous boulders, averaging about 0.3 m in height and 0.4 m to 0.6 m in length. On top of the cairn is a slight circular depression, approximately 2 m in diameter. The main body of the cairn is composed of small stones covered in heather, grass and a small number of birch trees; a pheasant pen has also been constructed on the SE corner.

The monument was first scheduled in 1935, but an incorrect area was defined. The present rescheduling rectifies this. Furthermore, no legal documentation supporting the original scheduling survives.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the cairn and an area around in which associated evidence for its construction and use may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The above-ground parts of the pheasant pen fence-posts are to be excluded from the scheduling, to allow for their maintenance.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: There is a strong likelihood that the characteristic structural features that define this class of monument, and the internal and external archaeological deposits associated with this particular monument, remain well preserved, despite the encroachment of trees and heather. The height of the mound and the survival and remaining conspicuousness of the kerb, a distinctive feature of this particular cairn, would appear to confirm this.

Contextual characteristics: The monument occupies a prominent position in the landscape with wide views over the surrounding moorland, where there is evidence for prehistoric settlement and associated field systems. It would have formed a significant place within the landscape of this area throughout later prehistory.

Few burial mounds in the eastern part of Sutherland have been identified in similar contexts, close by settlements, clearance cairns and agricultural activity. The majority are also either small with few distinctive architectural features, or much larger chambered cairns. This moderately large cairn with distinctive features is therefore a rare typological example that provides an opportunity for future study of how the spheres of life, agriculture and death interacted in the live of prehistoric societies within this region.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is a well-preserved example of a rare cairn form. 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. Its prominence suggests that it would have formed an intrinsic part of the prehistoric landscape in this area, coming to be incorporated into, and reverenced within, an agricultural and settled landscape in later prehistory. Its loss would affect our ability to understand this monument class as well as the surrounding landscape.



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NH79NW 14.



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


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Printed: 06/12/2022 21:11