Cnoc Freiceadain Long Cairns
Cnoc Freiceadain Long Cairns
A pair of Neolithic burial cairns of the 'long horn' variety. Interestingly, the two cairns are arranged at right angles to each other.
Visiting
The site is signposted off the A836 a few miles east of Reay (but not off the nearest minor road to Thurso, which seems extremely odd). There is a small parking area on the east side of the road (heading south towards Shebster), rather incongruously facing a vey large windfarm. Opposite the parking area a trail heads uphill. It isn't always obvious where the trail goes, thu if you follow the striped black and white poles you'll be fine. It takes about 10 minutes to reach the first of the cairns. The north cairn is rather unimpressive at first glance, though the rounded mound at the southern end is very clear to see. It takes a bit of imagination to follow the course of this cairn northwards towards the coast.

The south cairn, by contrast, is very striking. Depressions where inner burial chambers stood are very obvious to see, and at 71 metres in length (roughly 220 feet) it is one of the longest cairns of its type. There are horned forecourt areas at both ends.

Standing atop the rounded mound at the eastern end of the south cairn it is hard not be impressed by the sheer scale of the construction job; clearly the cairn was very important to the builders. There is a suggestion that there were originally three round cairns, and these were later elongated to create the shapes we see today, with two round cairns incorporated in the south cairn, and one in the north cairn. The north cairn was then built down the crest of the hill. This might account for the most peculiar feature at Cnoc Freiceadain; the fact that the cairns are at right angles to each other.

About a half mile to the north and west - between Cnoc Freiceadain and the A836 - are several cairns, stone rows, and a standing stone.

The north cairn
The north cairn
Looking down the north cairn
Looking down the north cairn
The south cairn
The south cairn