Cairn group 330m south-east of Bellshiel Law


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011404

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Cairn group 330m south-east of Bellshiel Law
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Rochester


National Grid Reference: NT 81438 01053


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Round cairn cemeteries date to the Bronze Age. They comprise groups of cairns sited in close proximity to one another and take the form of stone mounds constructed to cover single or multiple burials. Contemporary or later `flat' graves may lie between individual cairns. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time and they can exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form. Occasionally they are associated with earlier long cairns. They may also be associated with clearance cairns - heaps of stones cleared from the adjacent ground surface to improve its quality for agricultural activities; these were also being constructed during the Bronze Age, although some examples are of later date. It may be impossible without excavation to distinguish between some burial and clearance cairns. Round cairn cemeteries occur throughout most of upland Britain; their distribution pattern complements that of contemporary lowland earthen round barrows. Often occupying prominent locations they are a major historic element in the modern landscape. Their diversity and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving or partly-surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

Despite some damage caused by stone robbing, the Bellshiel Law cairn group survives reasonably well. The individual cairns retain significant archaeological deposits and the areas between, where further flat graves may exist, are undisturbed. Valuable evidence relating to the construction of the cemetery and the nature and duration of its use will survive. Information on the relationship of this site with the adjacent Neolithic long barrow will also survive.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a discrete group of six cairns situated on a south- facing slope below the crest of a ridge. The cairns are visible as low grassy mounds measuring between 0.3m and 0.5m across and between 0.2m to 0.7m in height. One cairn, more substantial than the others, is irregularly shaped and measures 11.5m east to west by 8.0m and stands 0.7m high. This cairn was excavated in 1935 revealing it to be surrounded by a stone kerb and containing an entrance passage of large stones. A flint implement was uncovered on the natural soil beneath the cairn. Historic accounts suggest that there were formerly more round cairns but some were destroyed for road metal earlier this century.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20933

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Newbigin, N, 'Archaeologia Aeliana 4 ser 13' in Excavations on a long and round cairn on Bellshiel law, (1936), 306-308
NT 80 SW 08,

End of official listing