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Warehouse South Cairn

The Warehouse South chambered cairn (ND 305 420) (1) is sited in a prominent position on the brow of the ridge that frames the southern boundary of the Yarrows basin, circa 70 m to the east of the equally prominent Bronze Age cairn. It was originally classified as a round cairn.  However a heath fire c. 1982 revealed a long low tail similar to, but less distinct than, that of North Yarrows North. The cairn was probably built as a round cairn very similar to Camster round (1). Unlike Camster round it appears to have been modified during its period of use.


A. H. Rhind first excavated Warehouse South in 1853. It was re-excavated by Anderson in 1865. He reported evidence for a horn and double surrounding walling that appear to be similar to those of The Point of Cott described in the background text (2). The entrance passage, anti-chamber and main chamber were broadly similar to the Yarrows South cairns. The bipartite division of the main chamber was unequal. The obliquely set sidewalls of the smaller distal compartment abutted a terminal back slab, rather than the round walling of the Yarrows South North distal cell. A single high, corbelled dome had originally roofed both compartments of the main chamber.


Rhind reported that a thin slab, closely fitted between the portal stones, had blocked the entrance of the anti chamber. This entrance blocking has also been reported for other chambered cairns. It has led some archaeologists to argue for a ritual sealing of the tombs at the end of the Neolithic, presumably marking a change of burial ritual.  Not all archaeologists support this view however. John Barber, for example suggests that many instances of supposed deliberate blocking are better explained as instances of corbelling collapse which resembles walling when excavated (Barber J pers. com).


The chamber contents were similar to the other Yarrows cairns comprising human bone, some of which was cremated. Sherds of at least three thick walled urns were reported. The were made of a coarse fabric and had a band of impressed fingernail decoration under the rim.


Looking towards the east from Warehouse South along the crest of the ridge, a further chambered cairn, Warehouse East appears as a green mound amongst the dark heather moor,


Warehouse East, together with Warehouse North and M'Cole's Castle (ND 316433), is one of three round, chambered, cairns at Yarrows. Their chambers are all rather similar being slightly closer to the tripartite form of a parallel-sided chamber subdivided by pairs of orthostats into three equal compartments.


Warehouse East and M'Cole's Castle cairn are not part of the Yarrows trail, which begins to descend from Warehouse South and passes to the east of Warehouse North also not visited. This long section of way marked footpath drops down and forward in time to node 6.


1) Davidson J L and Henshall A S; 1991 'The Chambered Cairns of Caithness' p 153.


2) Barber J 1997 'The Excavation of a Stalled Cairn at Point of Cott, Westray, Orkney.


From here the trail drops down passing Warehouse North round cairn which lies to the west. A further cairn,Warehouse East is not on the trail because of difficulty of access.

The cairn from the west

Chamber and passage entrance

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