Ricky’s Cairn

At some point around 1700 BC a circular monument about 7m across was constructed: a Bronze Age kerbed cairn. The edge of the monument was defined by a kerb with a single entrance, made of distinctive volcanic rock which demarcated a central space. At the heart of this a hole was dug and lined with stones within which human remains were placed along with four jet beads and a bronze awl. These beads, which came from Whitby in North Yorkshire, were originally part of a necklace and most likely were selected by people to symbolise their relationship with the deceased. Another bead was placed on the floor of the cairn.

When we first excavated the cairn in 2010 we were only able to excavate part of the cist. However we returned to excavate the rest of the cist in 2014. We were able to show that the human remains almost certainly came from at least two individuals, and that they had been exposed somewhere else first. After the bodies were placed in the cist, it was covered with large stones and then the central space was carefully filled in with stones. The entrance was blocked off at this stage as well and the tomb left alone. Whereas Cladh Aindreis was used, off and on, for over a thousand years, Ricky’s cairn had a much shorter use life. Its placement clearly drew on the nearby chambered tomb, a locale rich in myth and memory.

You can read more about our excavations from 2010 in our report from that year.


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