Historic Scotland

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History

Three large cairns were recorded here in 1723. They were about 100m apart and accompanied by many other small cairns.

A 1799 account from the parish of Rathin says the three cairns ‘were very large till of late, when great quantities of stone have been taken away from two of them’, probably for building field walls.

Today, the Cairn of Memsie stands alone. Overall, it’s a fine survival marking a once-impressive cemetery.

Intriguing finds

The cairns of Memsie were subject to much disruption from the 1700s, and many items and artefacts were found within. Finds at the cairns included:

  • human bones and heavily burnt stones
  • a flint ‘dart-head’ and a little block of flint in a stone cist
  • an iron sword with a medieval pot
  • a beaker and Bronze Age sword

This curious mixture of finds suggests the Memsie Cairns were intermittently in use for millennia – from the 2000s BC up into the medieval period. They indicate the continued significance of this site as a place for burial, right through to the medieval period.

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