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Stone Cists

  • O. G. S. Crawford

Cists are often met with on the open moors of Britain, and a brief account of them may therefore be of interest.

First, a few words about terminology. Our predecessors used also the words ‘Kist’ and ‘Kist-vaen’, and indeed the latter word still survives in some of our remoter western districts. ‘Kist-vaen’ is however an impossible word ; it was invented by antiquaries to whom all prehistoric monuments were ‘Celtic’, requiring therefore a Celtic name. Since the original name was unknown, new ones had to be invented. In the days when the words of Authority were heard with undue respect and awkward questions were seldom put, those spurious terms obtained wide currency. The word ‘cist’ has long been used by Scottish archaeologists, and it is the one adopted by the British Ordnance Survey.

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* Two Scottish cists belong to the Early Iron Age, one on Kippit Hill, Dolphinton (Lanarkshire), and the other at Moredun, near Gilmerton (Edinburgh). See Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., XXXVIII, 427 and LV, 45.

1 Ancient Britain, Oxford, 1907, p. 428.

2 To these may be added the illustrated Catalogue of specimens from prehistoric interments found in the N.E. of Scotland, and preserved in the Anthropological Museum, Marischal College, Aberdeen, by Reid, R.W. M.D., 1924; Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., 39, 418; and MrCallander’s, numerous notes on cists in Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot. 40, 26; XLI, 116; XLII, 212 (urn in cist) ; XLIII, 78 (five cists) ; XLVIII, 194; L, 150 ; LIII, 15 ; LV, 45 (Iron Age cist) ; LVI, 32 ; LVII, 299 ; LVIII, 286.

3 Crawford, Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, 1925, pp. 18, 19.

4 Proc. Arch. Inst. Salisbury (1849, published 1851), p 107.

5 Proc. Soc. Ant. Lond. ser. 2, 25 191.

6 Proc. Soc. Ant. Lond. ser. 2, 17, 376–7 ; 6” o.s. map, Kent, 31 sw.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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