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Main Details

Primary ReferenceNO54NE0012
NRHE Card No.NO54NE12
NRHE Numlink 34614
HES LB No. 4741
Site Form Standing Structure
Site Condition Incomplete
Details Remains of a souterrain and associated corbelled chamber. A partially-rock-cut souterrain discovered during agricultural operations in the spring of 1859, and excavated by Jervise (1863) in 1860 and 1861. It consists of a main passage leading to a beehive chamber, and a narrow entrance passage with an unusual subsidiary passage leading to a second entrance. To the North of the souterrain was a circular area of rough paving circa 12 m in diameter, which was obviously the remains of a surface structure similar to that at Ardestie (NO53SW0001) and Carlungie I (NO53NW0014). A cluster of six long- cists was found to the Northwest of the main passage - the only known instance of burials which can be almost certainly associated with the souterrain builders. The most interesting of the numerous finds from the excavation, which were all donated to NMAS, were Roman amphora fragments from above the main passage, and a bronze spiral armlet from the paved area. In 1966, an inspection by the OS through a hole in the ground (too small for entry) showed the corbelled chamber which appeared to be about 1.2 metres high. Except for shallow depressions denoting the passages, no other parts of the souterrain are visible. As well as the amphora fragments which may date from the 2nd century AD, a possible Roman bronze needle was found. The site was backfilled on Jervise's request to protect it. As part of the Edinburgh University Summer Field School in September 2000, a series of trenches were placed at the site to identify the exact position of the souterrain, graves and associated paving described by Jervise and to assess their condition. A programme of geophysics was conducted prior to excavation, but the results proved ambiguous due to the underlying bedrock. The souterrain had been cut into the upper slope of a rocky hillcrest. Topsoil in the area was shallow and contained a high percentage of eroding bedrock. The souterrain itself was exposed in excellent condition in three trenches as a long hooked chamber of thick drystone walls with an entrance facing Northwest. The roofing slabs had been removed, and the chamber infilled with loose stones. Despite much recent alteration to the surrounding subsoil surface by ploughing, the walls of the souterrain had not been damaged and seemed in a stable condition. Vegetation was removed from around the protruding top of a corbelled beehive chamber situated at the end of a small passage to the Northeast of the main souterrain chamber. This had been used as a receptacle for field stones, and a cairn of stones had built up upon its roof. The lintel and doorway to this passage could be partially seen through loosely backfilled stones in the main chamber. Two areas of paving identified by Jervise proved to be either natural bedrock platforms, or had been removed after discovery. In two places narrow trenches had been cut through the bedrock and backfilled with loose stones. It is unclear whether these features date to the 1859 excavation or are associated with the souterrain. The graves were not identified, and are presumed to lie outwith the excavated areas. It may be that plough disturbance has now removed any trace of the graves. To the Southeast of the souterrain, a much disturbed area showed evidence of two slots that had been partially cut into the bedrock and partially built up with stone. These appear to represent substantial structural traces towards the crest of the hill lying above the souterrain. No datable artefacts were recovered, but two small agate marbles, similar to those found by Jervise around the graves, were retrieved from the bedrock surface around these slots. Similar finds have been found at Hawkhill, and at Tarland and Monquhitter in Aberdeenshire. Also known as Cairn Conan and Cairnconon.
Last Update04/03/2020
Updated Bycherbert
Date of Compilation 

Easting: 357315.549, Northing: 745060.016

Google Map for NO54NE0012

National Grid Reference: NO 5731 4506

Event Details

Event DateEvent TypeOASIS ID
1860 Excavation
1861 Excavation
1966 Field Observation
2000 Excavation

Excavations and Surveys

Date MDate YTypeDurationDirector / OrganisationAuspicesFundExtent
 1863  Jervise   

Artefact and Ecofact

Date MDate YArtefact TypeFinderRecovery MethodConditionStorage LocationAccess No.
 1860 AMPHORA AJ Excavation National Museum of Scotland HD35-60
 1860 BRONZE ARMLET AJ Excavation National Museum of Scotland EQ103-7


Ecofact Notes

Monument Types

Monument Type 1Monument Type 2Monument Type 3OrderProbability