|Description of original cairn from which the cup and ring marked slab formed the capstone;
A small cairn which formerly stood a short distance N of the steading of Wester Yardhouses was destroyed about 1870. It is said (D R Rankin 1875) to have measured about 6.4m in circumference, and would thus appear to have been close to the average size of cairns in the concentrations noted in the vicinity.
The cairn contained a short cist, aligned N-S, which was constructed of four slabs and had a capstone decorated on its underside. No traces of any skeletal remains were observed, the only recorded find being a beaker, of ? N 2 (L) type (D L Clarke 1970), which was broken soon
after removal. The capstone measures about 1.2m by 1.0m, and bears a remarkable series of curvilinear and triangular designs. These motifs belong to what has become known as the 'Passage-grave' style, which was in use in Ireland by the middle of the third millenium BC. The carvings were not executed by those who erected the cairn, for portions of some of the designs were destroyed when the stone was trimmed for re-use in the cist. The capstone and a fragment of the beaker are preserved in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS Accession nos EQ 165, 166).
Some time before the destruction of the above cairn, a number of cairns were removed, apparently from the same general area, without any artifacts being found although it was noted that the earth beneath the cairns was red in colour. This discoloration was said not to occur anywhere else in the vicinity and was probably the result of burning, evidence for which has frequently been found during the excavation of broadly similar small cairns elsewhere.
No traces of any cairns were seen in the area N of Wester Yardhouses.
Posted by Martin
25th August 2004ce