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The massive cairns all stand several metres high, and it is hard to notice anything else while on the site. Looking at them on conventional high altitude vertical aerial photographs is not helpful; the largest scale is 1:10,000 which gives an image of the Nine Standards line of cairns that is only 7mm long. Even using binocular attachments to a mirror stereoscope, even a skilled interpreter cannot see any detail. The major geological strata are evident, and this has persuaded some specialists that there is little or no archaeology on the ridge, apart from the cairns, dated late-medieval at best. Satellite imagery is of limited help; it cannot provide a stereoscopic image. However, in 2005 thanks to an intrepid gyrocopter pilot and a local helicopter enthusiast, several sets of low alttitude oblique images of the Nine Standards and the ridge they stand on became available. See the two oblique images below, showing Nine Standards looking north east and Nine Standards looking south east.

Photographs above courtesy of Barry Stacey ©

These photographs raise questions as well as showing useful detail. Images taken before and after the rebuilding show that the 11 cairns of early 2005 became only nine cairns in late 2005, with one major cairn missing in the middle. How much have they 'migrated' over the centuries? The east-facing slope of the ridge in particular has many apparent quarry and trial pits; what ages are these? There is a sheepfold with two sections, and a possibly older building to its east. Most intriguing, there appears to be rectangular or trapezoidal enclosure around the summit of the ridge, with the cairns lying diagonally across it. Lithology or archaeology? That is the question. We want some answers.

For first report of work completed in the summer see: August 2012

For the second report of work completed in the autumn see: December 2012

For the final report of work completed see: December 2014


We already have quite a few friends who are helping with the project but more needed - please see the friends page for more information about becoming a friend or helping with the project.

To see copies of the original documents mentioned on the History page, see the documents page.

To read an exploration of the linguistic background of Nine Standards, see the what's in a name page.

There are quite a few old maps which mention Nine Standards and these can be found on the mapspage.

Nine Standards is a wonderfully photogenic place from any angle and we have added photographs to many of the pages of this website.


    Copyright © Friends of Nine Standards, 2011