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Chambered cairn, Carn Liath

SITE REF: DB18/13b

GRID REF: ND 1188 3295

Height OD: 108m

Orientation: ENE-WSW

Survives as the much dilapidated remains of a horned long cairn standing up to 1.5m high in places. A modern cairn has been built at the NE end increasing its length. Several large slabs are visible within the cairn; the parallel-set stones at the east end are probably the remnants of a chamber. The west end is horned and is much disturbed. Most of the cairn material is turf-covered but there are spreads of uncovered stones to the east.

Described by RCAHMS (1911): "Situated on the moor some 300 yards E by S of the shepherd's house at Leodebest, are the remains of a horned long cairn known as 'Carn Liath'. The cairn is much dilapidated and the chamber ruined, but there is no evidence of its having been excavated. It lies with its major axis orientated WSW and ENE, rising in elevation and expanding in width towards yje latter direction. At the WSW extremity it is 28' in breadth and now of trifling elevation. The extreme length, including the horns, is 165'. The apparentr width between the ends of the horns at the WSW is 40' and at the ENE 60'. The ruined state of the cairn, however, renders these measurements only approximate. In the centre of the concavity at the ENE end stand two slabs about 3'10" in height above the ruin, 2'6" to 3' in width, and 1'4" apart, which probably mark the outer end of the entrance passage. The exact projection of the horns is not in the existing state of ruin observable, but the length from these portal stones to the outer extremity on the N is 35', and at the opposite end the distance from the centre point of the end of the cairn to the approximate end of the 4 horns is 23'. No part of the chamber is at present recognisable."

Described by Henshall (1963): "Orkney-Cromarty, long, horned cairn with Camster-type chamber. The cairn lies on flat moorland above the Dunbeath Water at just over 350ft OD. The round chambered cairn of Loedebest East (DB18/13a) is only about 30yd to the NW. The cairn has been much ruined and robbed, and is now partly turf-covered. The total length was probably about 165ft (but disturbance has lengthened it to 180ft) with the long axis running E-W. The body of the cairn expands from a width of about 37ft at the W end to about 60ft at the E end, which rises to a height of about 5ft. At the W end there are horns projecting obliquely for about 10ft. There have been horns at the E end too, and the N side of the N horn can still be traced, but the forecourt between the horns is now choked with debris (probably from the howking of the chamber) so that the plan of the E end of the cairn cannot be traced.

"Near the centre of the cairn at the E end, five stones set almost parallel to each other protrude through the debris. They appear to represent the transverse divisional stones of a chamber aligned along the main axis of the cairn and presumably entered from the E. The eastern, or outer, pair of stones are 2ft apart and 3 to 4ft in front of the tall inner pair. The fifth slab is lower, 4ft 6in further W, apparently the S member of another pair of divisional slabs. Along the body of the cairn are a number of large slabs set on their sides or ends which seem to be in situ, though appearances can be deceptive as the cairn itself is much disturbed and is composed of similar slabs."


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