The monument consists of two burial cairns probably dating from the early Bronze Age (2500BC to 1500BC). The main cairn is visible as a low grassy mound about 14m in overall diameter with a kerb of boulders. The adjacent cairn lies about 25m to the north and is visible as a curvilinear bank about 25m in length and up to 1.2m high. The monument is located in a stretch of woodland amongst arable farmland and sits 30m above sea level.
The main cairn has a partially complete outer kerb formed by an arc of stones up to 1.2m high. The kerb is graded in height with the highest stone at the south-southwest. The interior has evidence for a slight rise in the centre with stones below the grass. The more fragmentary remains of the second probable cairn is located 25m to the north. It survives as a curvilinear stone bank measuring approximately 5m in width, most likely evidence for the infill that would be laid between the inner and outer stone kerbs of a Clava-type cairn. Approximately 5m to the southeast from the inside edge of the bank are two large stones almost 1m in length, 0.5 metre in width and up to 0.5 metre in height. The area between the two stones and the bank is a slightly dished hollow with a stoney base. The position and size of the stones indicates the possible remains of an inner kerb and central chamber of a burial cairn.
The scheduled area is irregular on plan and includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monuments construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the post and wire fences to allow for maintenance. The monument was originally scheduled in 1964 but the documentation does not meet current standards and did not include all of the nationally important archaeological remains; the present amendment rectifies this.
Statement of National Importance
The cultural significance of the monument can be exopressed as follows:
The monument is a burial cairn visible as a low mound of cairn material with a clear outer kerb line of graded stones, with the remains of a second cairn 25m to the north. The overall form main cairn can be still be understood although the chamber is no-longer discernable. The form of the kerb suggests that it is likely to be a Clava-type cairn, a type of cairn only found around the Moray Firth and central Highlands. The probable second cairn is more fragmentary and cannot be securely identified as a Clava-type cairn but it does retain upstanding remains which indicate that it is likely to be the remains of a chambered cairn. It is possible therefore that this cairn is of earlier, Neolithic, date. The original function of the monument was as a burial or funerary site and these structural elements can help us understand more about the architecture of prehistoric burial and the construction, use and abandonment of these monuments.
Excavation at chambered cairns elsewhere shows that there remains a high potential for undisturbed deposits. There is, therefore, good potential for the survival of a wide range of associated archaeological remains at this monument, including human burials, artefacts and ecofacts such as charcoal and pollen within, beneath and around the upstanding structure of the cairns. Such archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the date and detailed form of the monument, particularly the relationship between the two cairns. They can also inform us of the ritual and funerary practices conducted, while any artefacts and ecofacts would enhance understanding of contemporary economy, land-use and environment.
Excavations at Clava-type cairns have shown that they were constructed and in use during the Bronze Age, and that such monuments were used for ritual and burial. However, questions remain regarding the exact phasing and dating of Clava-type cairns in general. This site is of further significance due to existence of two cairns in close proximity. Scientific study of the monument's form and construction compared with other cairns would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site, including the relationship between the two cairns, and of Clava-type cairns and of other Bronze Age ritual and funerary monuments in general.
The form of the main cairn suggests that it is part of a well-defined regional group of 50 or more stone-built monuments found around the Moray Firth and central Highlands, the so-called 'Clava cairns'. There are numerous broadly contemporary monuments in the landscape surrounding the monument including number of Clava-type cairns; Bruiach (Canmore ID 12391) and Culburnie (scheduled monument reference SM2425, Canmore ID 12397). There is potential to study these sites together to understand their functions within the local communities and possible chronological development in the area, and also to draw comparisons with evidence from other Clava-type cairns around Moray Firth and central Highlands.
The main cairn sits on a low area of land slightly above the adjacent fields and greater height above a burn 150m to the east. Although within woodland, there are potentially open views across the adjacent landscape and beyond to the surrounding hills.
At this time, there are no known associative characteristics which significantly contribute to the site's cultural significance.
Statement of National Importance
The monument is of national importance because it has inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular the design, construction and use of burial and ceremonial monuments. It retains its field characteristics to a marked degree; the surviving structural form of the outer kerb of the Clava-type cairn and the remains of the adjacent probable cairn are all important features. There is no record of any previous excavations, suggesting high potential for the survival of important archaeological evidence. Clava-type cairns are a regionally distinctive class of early Bronze Age monuments, and the significance of the cairn at Belladrum is enhanced by its close proximity to a second potentially earlier cairn, and also to other cairns in the area; together, these monuments are an important source of evidence of the nature of early Bronze Age belief systems, ceremonial and funerary practices, as well as society and economy. The loss of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate the related monuments in the vicinity and, more widely, understand the meaning and importance of ceremony and ritual, death and burial in the early Bronze Age. Our understating of the placement of funerary and ceremonial monuments within the landscape during prehistory would also be diminished.
Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 12748 (accessed on 31/8/2016).
The Highland Council Environment Record reference is MHG3398 (accessed on 31/8/2016).
Childe, V G, 1944, 'An unrecognised group of chambered cairns', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 78 1943-4, p.26-38, 38.
Henshall, A S, 1963, The chambered tombs of Scotland, Volume 1, Vol. 1, 366; plan 367.
RCAHMS, 1979, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of North-East Inverness, Inverness District, Highland Region, 7, No. 6.
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There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Belladrum, chambered cairns 250m NNE of Brockie's Lodge
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Printed: 09/08/2022 08:53