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Project and Fieldwork 2003

Excavation at Battle Moss

Stone rows are a poorly understood class of prehistoric monument thought to have been built approximately 4,500 years ago. They are found mainly in Caithness and Sutherland; their significance and function are currently unknown. Some archaeologists have suggested that they may have functioned as astronomical observatories or calendars used to predict important astronomical events, however many archaeologists are unconvinced by this interpretation.

The stone rows at Battle Moss, Yarrows (ND 312440) comprise 8 stone rows, 6 of which are almost complete for a distance of about 40 metres. The rows are aligned almost due north and south and are generally parallel. The site may once have been larger, some stones perhaps removed during agricultural activity. A plan made in 1871 shows the easternmost alignment of this setting reaching northwards some 120 m beyond the present extent of the setting.

The site was excavated in 2003. Seven stones were fully excavated; it was determined that each had been set into a socket dug through the natural glacial till. The stones were packed into their sockets using a combination of smaller stones and soil, and were remarkably firmly set. Several of the stones were deliberately aligned off-axis, demonstrating that the monument had never been designed as a series of completely parallel lines. Unfortunately, no dating evidence was recovered from the stone rows, however, it is likely that they were constructed during the Bronze Age period.

A small cairn was also identified 50 m to the north of the rows, in line with their main axis. This was a multi-period construction, with a probable early Bronze Age cist containing beaker pottery surrounded by a small cairn, which was redesigned in the middle Bronze Age to form a ring cairn. This comprised a circular cairn with a central open area, within which cremation deposits and pottery were found.

Excavation of Battle Moss stone rows at Yarrows

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