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The Chambered Cairns of the Central Highlands

An Inventory of the Structures and their Contents

Audrey S Henshall, J N Graham Ritchie


Chambered cairns are the earliest architectural achievement of the peoples of Scotland. The cairns are more complex structures than generally recognised and are also the principal evidence of the earliest agricultural communities in the land. Among the numerous chambered cairns of the Central Highlands are some of the finest examples of such monuments in Scotland. In particular this area saw two traditions of tomb-building and thus provides additional insights for elucidating developments during the neolithic period.

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About the Author

Audrey Henshall has studied chambered cairns and their contents throughout her professional life with the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Her early volumes in 1963 and 1972 on the Chambered Tombs of Scotland formed the foundation for four new volumes on the monuments of the northern counties, of which this is the last. The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, also with Graham Ritchie, was published in 1995. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.


The summation of a lifetime's experience in the field and a deep empathy with the builders and their practical and religious concerns… The Central Highlands is attractive to look at and handle, with an elegant typeface, wide margins and generous illustration; there is no doubt about whether the careful sensitive survey enshrined in the Central Highlands is of lasting value.
There is much that is satisfying in a book of this nature, since it is far more than simply an old inventory republished ... This is a scholarly and meticulously researched thesis, lavishly illustrated with maps, photographs and diagrams ... This book is much more than a revision of an inventory. It is a model of how these things should be done. It places again this exceptional prehistoric resource in the public arena, and let us hope, stimulates the new filedwork, interest and research that the Scottish carins deserve.