Excavation of three chambered cairns at Loch Calder, Caithness
Artefacts, Burial, Cairns, Bone, Camster, Grave, Human Bone, Chamber, Animal Bones, Circular Cairn, Pottery, Chambered Cairns
ND 07056192, 06816189, 06766187. Three chambered cairns were excavated in advance of reservoir construction. Tulach an t-Sionnaich proved to be a passage grave set in a heel-shaped cairn of Shetland type, to which a chamberless long cairn had been added. Burnt and unburnt human bone, with evidence for storage before burial, were found together with animal bones (including dog) and featureless Neolithic pottery. Tulloch of Assery A was a short-horned cairn with a passage, antechamber and chamber at each end. Undisturbed burial deposits of nine to eleven persons were in the N chamber, but the S chamber had suffered modern disturbance. A discussion on the problem of extra-revetment material includes the results of experiments on site. Tulloch of Assery B was a large circular cairn over a Camster type chamber. Stability had been ensured by carefully reinforced construction. Artefacts under the chamber paving included pottery representing the northernmost extension of the "W Neolithic" class. The burial deposit was unburnt bone. The chambers of all three cairns had been blocked after use. Discussion sets them in their Caithness context, but origins remain obscure. The economy suggested by the food remains is sketched.