Scheduled Monument

Cairn of Get, chambered cairn, cairns and cistsSM90048

Status: Designated

Documents

Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (https://portal.historicenvironment.scot/termsandconditions).

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.

Summary

Date Added
27/09/1934
Last Date Amended
16/08/2016
Type
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain); chambered cairn; cist
Local Authority
Highland
Planning Authority
Highland
Parish
Wick
NGR
ND 31347 41125
Coordinates
331347, 941125

 

 

Description

The monument is a group of prehistoric funerary structures including three cairns and several cists (stone-lined graves). The largest structure is a chambered cairn dating from the Neolithic (about 4000BC to 2500BC). Two smaller, circular cairns probably date to the Bronze Age (2500BC to 800BC) or the Iron Age to Early Historic period (about 800BC to AD900). The circular cairns each contain evidence for a cist and four other isolated cists may be contemporary with the cairns. The site is located within open moorland and lies around 110m above sea level.

The chambered cairn is of the Orkney-Cromarty type found mostly in northeast Scotland and the Orkney Islands. It measures approximately 18m in diameter and 2.25m in height and is 'short horned' on plan; the north and south faces of the cairn have pairs of horns projecting, forming concave ends and forecourts. The entrance, on the south, is flanked by two large portal stones, up to 0.6m high. A passage around 3.25m long, lined with stone walling, leads to a small square shaped ante-chamber, the entrance again flanked by portal stones, up to 1.3m high.  At the north of the ante-chamber is the main burial chamber, the entrance to which is flanked by portal stones up to 1.7m high. The main chamber retains some evidence of its corbelled stone roof. Two circular cairns are located to the northeast and southeast of the chambered cairn. The northeast cairn is visible as a low mound around 9m in diameter and 1m in high with a shallow depression in the top. The southern cairn is visible as a broad, circular band of stones about 10m in diameter and 0.6m high. This structure resembles a platform cairn of Iron Age to Early Historic date (800BC to AD 900), and both circular cairns may form part of a cemetery dating to this period. The circular cairns each include evidence for a stone-lined cist and there are at least four other cists nearby, each represented by at least one stone slab and measuring up to 1.3m in length, 0.7m in width and 0.4m deep. The monument is located on the crest of an undulating terrace, on gently sloping moorland which runs east southeast to the coast some 1.5km distant.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan. The scheduled area includes 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 monument was first scheduled in 1934, but the documentation did not meet current standards: the present amendment rectifies this. The above-ground elements of the boardwalk path and information board are specifically excluded from the schedule.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to make a significant addition to our knowledge and understanding of the past, particularly the design and construction of prehistoric burial monuments, and the nature of belief systems and burial practices. The chambered cairn is of a rare type and has excellent field characteristics, allowing us to interpret its form, function and position in the landscape. Its entrance passage, three sets of portal stones and corbelled burial chamber are notable, well-preserved features. The two circular cairns potentially represent relatively rare platform cairns and are supplemented by at least four additional, individual cists. The monument has potential for the presence of further buried archaeological remains, including human burials, artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence. The time depth displayed by this monument is unusual and important, offering a rare opportunity to study the development of burial practices, at a single site, over three to four millennia. There are numerous other cairns in the vicinity of the monument, which together can contribute to our understanding of prehistoric and early historic society, its organisation, economy, religion and demography. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand prehistoric funerary practice in Caithness, and the placing of cairns and cists within the landscape.

References

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 9046 (accessed on 05/04/2016).

Highland Council http://her.highland.gov.uk/ reference number MHG 2210 (accessed on 05/04/2016).

Anderson, J. (1870). 'On the horned cairns of Caithness, their structural arrangement, contents of chambers', Procedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 7, 1866-8. Pages: 480-512.

Close-Brooks, J. (1984). 'Pictish and other burials', in Friell, J G P and Watson, W G, Pictish studies: settlement, burial and art in Dark Age northern Britain, British Archaeological Report, vol. 125. Oxford.

Davidson and Henshall, J L and A S. (1991). The chambered cairns of Caithness: an inventory of the structures and their contents. Edinburgh.

Gibson, A. (1985). 'Cairn of Get (Wick)', Discovery and Excavation Scotland.

Henshall, A S. (1963). The chambered tombs of Scotland, vol. 1. Edinburgh.

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

Mercer, R J. (1985). Archaeological field survey in northern Scotland: volume III: 1982-3, University of Edinburgh, Department of Archaeology, Occasional Paper No. 11. Edinburgh.

RCAHMS. (1911). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. Edinburgh. Pages: 178-80, No. 559.

Ritchie, A. (2011). 'Cemeteries of platform cairns and long cists around Sinclair's Bay, Caithness', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 141.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Cairn O'Get

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/cairn-oget

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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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