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Mains of Huntingtower, henge, enclosures, pits and road WSW of

A Scheduled Monument in Strathtay, Perth and Kinross

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.4085 / 56°24'30"N

Longitude: -3.4953 / 3°29'43"W

OS Eastings: 307825

OS Northings: 725030

OS Grid: NO078250

Mapcode National: GBR 1X.06PZ

Mapcode Global: WH5P6.86T0

Entry Name: Mains of Huntingtower, henge, enclosures, pits and road WSW of

Scheduled Date: 16 November 1976

Last Amended: 25 November 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3630

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive); Prehistoric ritual and funera

Location: Tibbermore

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathtay

Traditional County: Perthshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a neolithic henge, two prehistoric enclosures, five prehistoric roundhouses, dispersed groups of pits and a broadly-parallel alignment of pits representing a Roman road. These survive as a complex group of buried archaeological features visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. The monument is located on a river terrace in cultivated land to the north-west of Perth, approximately 1km south of the River Almond and at 35m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1975 and 1996 as three individual scheduled areas; the present rescheduling builds on improved knowledge and mapping, and creates a rectified, single monument.

The elements of this complex are described below in chronological order. The easternmost element of the monument is an enclosure with a single break on its eastern side that archaeologists interpret as a likely Class I (single-entrance) henge. The enclosure is approximately 40m in diameter, its ditch roughly 5m wide.

The two enclosed settlements are likely to be later prehistoric in date; the westernmost measures approximately 33m in diameter; the easternmost 75m in diameter. They survive among a scattered group of at least 100 individual pits (all of which are roughly circular and less than 3m in diameter), although their relationship to these is unclear. Both settlements are defined by very narrow interrupted ditches which can indicate a palisade trench rather than a wider singe ditch. The easternmost enclosure has a central, penannular ditch feature and, inside this, a circular arrangement of nine visible pits may indicate the foundations of a timber building. The outermost ditch is interrupted in several places and on its western side it is cut by a round house of likely prehistoric date. The smaller westernmost enclosure appears as a crescent-shaped feature with pits visible inside of and adjacent to the ditch.

Four crescent-shaped features survive to the north-west of the largest enclosure and these are interpreted as the remains of a tight group of four prehistoric round houses. They each cover a circular space of 12m in diameter and surround a circular arrangement of eight pits.

A double line of pits, some 20m apart, runs for approximately 1km in a ENE-WSW orientation. This large feature indicates the lateral boundaries of part of the Camelon to Cargill Roman road. Such roads were constructed using a compacted gravel surface lying over a basal layer of large stones; the aerial photographs show the line of quarry pits used to source road-building material that typically flank Roman roads. At its southern end the road bends slightly southwards.

Additional archaeological features contained by the scheduling include a short alignment of pits (towards the E end of the scheduled area) angled away from the line of Roman road quarry pits, and incoherent groups and isolated examples of small pits. Archaeological investigations conclude that there are several modern linear features that complicate the picture of prehistoric and Roman land-use here, while the re-interpretation of aerial photographs for this cropmark complex suggest several features are the results of natural processes despite their archaeological appearance.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, comprising four separate areas, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of modern boundary features (walls and post-and-wire fencing) and the top 0.3m of modern surfaces (metalled roads and tracks), to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

Evidence for the survival of important prehistoric and Roman structural deposits is indicated and verified through aerial photography and its interpretation. It is therefore likely that a significant proportion of the structural elements of the henge, enclosures, round houses and Roman road (in the form of quarry pits) survive intact. This may include structural evidence as well as environmental remains that can indicate climatic and environmental conditions when the different elements of the monument were built and in use. The ground between the two lines of pits may seal the basal layers of the original Roman road. Investigation of comparable examples of the multi-period structures represented here suggests they can reveal information about design and construction, function and significance to those who built them. They therefore have the potential to further our understanding of prehistoric ceremony and associated activity, and later Roman road-building.

Contextual characteristics

The remains belong to a variety of important monument classes reflecting considerable prehistoric and later settlement and land-use activity in Perthshire and Kinross, and Scotland more generally. The henge is part of a group of neolithic ceremonial monuments used for ritual and funerary events. With only one entrance, it is an important variant within the overall class of some 80 or so henges known of in Scotland and can tell us more about the role and significance of ceremonial sites in prehistoric life. The enclosures and round houses reflect concentrated settlement activity and they have the potential to reveal more about the domestic arrangements of communities living here.

The remains of a section of the Camelon to Cargill Roman road here form part of a much larger system of military control and campaigning in Scotland that was undertaken during the reign of the Flavian emperors (during the late first century AD). It is a central element of a chain of fortifications (including watch towers, fortlets and forts) running for almost 40km and cutting across the upper Firths of Forth and Tay. The firths were not necessarily the focal points for aligning this chain but the result was a boundary feature that effectively controlled movement between the Highlands and lands to the south and east. The system including the road has been tentatively dated as earlier than the Antonine and Hadrianic frontiers and therefore this part of the monument has much to tell us about the early Roman occupation of Scotland and the wider significance of military campaigning at the furthest reach of the Roman empire.

Associative characteristics

The Roman remains are linked with contemporary accounts of Roman occupation in Perthshire and Kinross. Tacitus wrote that the Roman soldier and governor of Britain, Agricola, fought in the Gask Ridge area in AD 80.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the neolithic, later prehistoric and Roman occupation of southern Scotland. This potential is enhanced by the variety of remains which reflect the ceremonial and domestic practices of prehistoric society, the engineering skill of the Roman army, and its control over land bordering the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. Archaeologists suggest that the Roman road was part of larger supply chain and central to the network of forts and fortlets positioned along the strategic access routes to and from the Highlands. The loss of the monument would therefore significantly impede our ability to understand the Roman empire and its expansion into Scotland as well as the development of a particularly rich piece of prehistoric archaeological landscape.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the sites as NO02NE 39, 86, 87, 88, 100, 151, 152, 155, 168, 205 and NO02SE 27, 49, 66, 67. Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust record the sites as MPK2111, 2112, 2113, 2181, 2205, 2224, 2225.

Aerial photographs:

33186po 1971 Mains of Huntingtower.

CUCAP BQO 15 1974 Huntingtower.

Dewar 7068/E8 1975 Huntingtower.

B 72811 1992 Mains of Huntingtower.

B 79338 1992 Mains of Huntingtower.

B 79341 1992 Mains of Huntingtower.

References:

Cook M 2004, HUNTINGTOWER, CRIEFF ROAD: ARCHAEOLOGICAL WATCHING BRIEF. DATA STRUCTURE REPORT, Edinburgh: AOC Archaeology Group.

Barclay G J 1983, 'The excavation of two crop-marks at Huntingtower, Perthshire' PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 112, 580-3.

Harding A F and Lee G E 1987, HENGE MONUMENTS AND RELATED SITES OF GREAT BRITAIN. AIR PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE AND CATALOGUE, Brit Archaeol Rep, Brit Ser 175, 411-14.

Headland Archaeology 2006, RESULTS OF AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVALUATION AT HUNTINGTOWER PERTH, Unpublished typescript report, Edinburgh: Headland Archaeology.

Mathews A 2007, MAINS OF HUNTINGTOWER, PERTH: ARCHAEOLOGICAL MONITORED STRIP AND CLEANING. SUMMARY OF WORKS TO 9 NOVEMBER 2007, Unpublished typescript report, Kilwinning: Rathmell Archaeology Ltd.

RCAHMS 1994, SOUTH-EAST PERTH. AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE, Edinburgh: RCAHMS.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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