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Yarrows Archaeological Trail Improvements

The Burn of Whilk wind farm development planning consent condition 21 required that:


No development shall commence until an Access and Heritage Interpretation Plan shall be submitted to and agreed in writing with the Planning Authority. The Access and Heritage Interpretation Plan will detail which archaeological sites should have their access improved and which sites would benefit from interpretation, along with proposals for maintaining and encouraging public access to the archaeological resource as well as details of signage and promotion of a Heritage Trail. Utilising the proposed new access to the site a new visitor trail will be implemented and linked to the existing yarrows Archaeological trail. The Access and Interpretation Plan shall include:-

•  Provision for production of educational packs based on the archaeological sites in the

    Yarrows/Warehouse area for dissemination in local schools.

•  Details of provisions for improving the visitor experience at the existing Yarrows Archaeological Trail,

   including way markers, footpath improvements, leaflets, interpretation and use of new media.

•  Details of a community programme to engage with the archaeological resource including

   field surveys, ground truthing of LiDAR survey and excavation.In consultation with the Highland Council Archaeology

   Unit and other relevant stakeholders implementation of the Plan is required as part of this condition.

Reason: To improve access and interpretation across this development site, whilst securing a measure of control and protection

of valued local archaeology.

Excavation of Two Cairns

Phase 1

AOC Archaeology,  assisted by volunteers, conducted an excavation of two cairns, Warehouse South and Warehouse West. The joint aims of the project were to investigating the nature of the two cairns and improving the presentation and interpretation of the monuments for the general public.

Warehouse South entrance before excavation

Warehouse South chamber before excavation

Warehouse South entrance after excavation

Warehouse South chamber after excavation

Warehouse South facade horn root

Warehouse South facade horn terminal

Warehouse South tail horn

Warehouse West long cist

Excavation of Warehouse South chambered cairn confirmed that it was, as suspected a long cairn although it may originally been a round or heal shaped cairn. The excavation also revealed two antiquarian’s trenches cut each side of the entrance. These trenches had the effect of destabilising both the facade walling and the roof lintels of the entrance passage. Excavation of the extremity of the cairn tail revealed a less monumental terminal horn.

Warehouse West cairn has traditionally assumed to be a Bronze Age burial cairn because of its appearance antiquarian investigations revealing a cist. There remains the possibility that the monument was a an early Neolithic cairn. The current investigation involved the exposure of the known cist and cutting a trench through the rubble mound in search of internal structures that may be evidence of an original Neolithic cairn.

Exposure of the cist revealed a large long cist and water washed pebbles that had accompanied the inhumation suggestive of a Pictish rather than a Bronze Age burial. A small amount of cremated bone was also recovered close to but not in the cist. Very large stones placed around the periphery of the antiquarian excavation pit indicated a high degree of disturbance. The number of these stones seemed excessive for a cist burial and may have been derived for a severely disturbed earlier monument.


Both cairns have been temporarily stabilised and protected pending phase 2 of the excavation.

Phase 2

Phase two involves the development of a conservation and management scheme, approved by Historic Scotland, with the aims of presenting the monuments in a way that is both informative and aesthetically acceptable while simultaneously supporting and stabilising the monument to arrest deterioration.