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Title: Cist  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Dartmoor kistvaens, Kilham, Northumberland, Cat Stane, Round barrow, Tumulus
Collection: Archaeology of Death, Burial Monuments and Structures
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Kistvaen on the southern edge of Dartmoor in Drizzlecombe (England) showing the capstone and the inner cist structure.

A cist ( or ; also kist ;[1][2] from Greek: κίστη or Germanic Kiste) is a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead. Examples can be found across Europe and in the Middle East.[3][4][5][6] A cist may have been associated with other monuments, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow. Several cists are sometimes found close together within the same cairn or barrow. Often ornaments have been found within an excavated cist, indicating the wealth or prominence of the interred individual.

In Devonshire a local word for a cist in Modern Cornish is kistvaen. There are numerous Dartmoor kistvaens.

In the Welsh language (whose origins, like Cornish, are from the ancient British or Brythonic language line), cist is also used for such ancient graves, but in modern use, can also mean a chest, a coffer, a box,[7] or even the boot / trunk of a car.[8]


  • Regional examples 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Regional examples

  • Balblair cist, Beauly, Inverness
  • Dunan Aula, Craignish, Argyll and Bute
  • Holm Mains Farm, Inverness

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster Unabridged (MWU). (Online subscription-based reference service of Merriam-Webster, based on Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002.) Headword cist. Accessed 2007-12-11.
  3. ^ A Cist Burial in Jordan
  4. ^ Burials in Ancient Palestine: From the Stone Age to Abraham
  5. ^ The Early Minoan Period: The Tombs
  6. ^ Excavation of Cist in Bologna, Italy
  7. ^
  8. ^|en|cist

External links

  • Pretanic World - Chart of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Celtic Stone Structures
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