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Jasmine Cottage, cursus monument and barrows 160m south east of

A Scheduled Monument in East Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2374 / 57°14'14"N

Longitude: -2.2738 / 2°16'25"W

OS Eastings: 383572

OS Northings: 816326

OS Grid: NJ835163

Mapcode National: GBR XF.ZN40

Mapcode Global: WH9Q8.1CJ3

Entry Name: Jasmine Cottage, cursus monument and barrows 160m SE of

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Last Amended: 20 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6572

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Fintray

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: East Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a cursus monument and barrows visible in cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. The monument lies in a cultivated field (currently under pasture) on the N side of the River Don, at approximately 60m above sea level. It was first scheduled in 1996 and is being rescheduled in order to improve the accuracy of the scheduled area in the light of new transcription and mapping, and to improve the associated documentation.

Cursus monuments are a type of large rectilinear enclosure constructed using parallel ditches or rows of pits and upcast mounds of earth. They appear to have been ritual or ceremonial sites, and in Scotland they date to the early or middle Neolithic period (the first half of the 4th millennium BC).

The cursus survives as a rectilinear enclosure defined by maculae (small circular features) and linear cropmarks, which indicate the remains of pits or postholes and ditches or palisade slots. The enclosure measures approximately 125m NW-SE by approximately 30m transversely. The enclosure is subdivided by at least three further transverse lines of pits. Immediately to the south-west of the enclosure are two penannular enclosures, measuring 15m and 6m in diameter respectively. These indicate the remains of round barrows of neolithic or Bronze-Age date. Further maculae indicate the remains of pits and postholes in the vicinity.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to be found, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument retains a significant proportion of its diagnostic characteristics, despite surviving only as plough-truncated features. The arrangement and the construction of the pit alignments and ditches can tell us about the nature and possible use of enclosure monuments. The monument is likely to preserve good environmental and artefactual evidence, particularly in its pits or postholes and ditches, and the interior may contain traces of structures and evidence for activities associated with the enclosure. The proximity of at least two round barrows of broadly similar date enhances this potential. The monument, therefore, has the potential to significantly enhance our knowledge and understanding of ritual and ceremonial practices during the neolithic period and hence the lives of people living at that time.

Contextual characteristics

This monument is a good example of a small but relatively widespread class, collectively known as large ceremonial enclosure monuments, which also include bank barrows. More than 110 cursus monuments are now known in Britain, including around 43 sites in Scotland. There are further possible parallels in Ireland. Examples can range in length from 170m to 4km with considerable variations in form.

In Scotland, cursuses tend to be located in the basins of river systems and geographically appear to be limited to eastern and SW Scotland. There are concentrations in Angus, Nithsdale, Annandale and East Lothian with outliers along the Moray Firth, the Clyde valley, the Forth valley, the Tay and in Ayrshire. We think this distribution is as much to do with the pattern of survey and recording as it is the original distribution of examples in the class. This example is one of the small number of outliers and is therefore a particularly important example, particularly given that it appears to be a hybrid example, defined by a combinations of pits and ditches. It is one of only two cursuses known in Donside and bears comparison with the examples in Angus and Perth and Kinross. Its importance is enhanced by the fact that it is partially pit-defined and therefore part of a sub-class so far known only in Scotland (although there is a single possible pit-defined example in England).

Cursus monuments tend not to be isolated but form part of a wider monument complex that may include stone circles, henges and burial monuments. The setting of a cursus in its surrounding landscape is important when considering its purpose and function. Here the cursus is juxtaposed with the remains of barrows that may date to the same period or have slightly later origins, in the Bronze Age. A large ring-ditch lies 140m to the SE and a cairn 400m away; it is possible that there is also some relationship between this monument and the cursus, as they appear to be on the same alignment. We know from excavated examples that cursuses were probably built in more than one phase and that they often contain, modify or otherwise incorporate earlier monuments, as well as acting as a focus for later activity. Cursuses tend to be sited in connection with natural features as water courses, river basins, false crests and viewpoints. This example is typical, in that it located just 250m from a major watercourse.

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 to inform our understanding of ritual and ceremonial aspects of life during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. It is a distinctive, relatively uncommon example of a rare group of large enclosure monuments and as such can yield information about the construction and possible function of these enclosures. There is a growing body of evidence that cursus monuments were part of wider ritual and ceremonial landscapes. The loss of this example would therefore impede our ability to understand the nature and context of early prehistoric ritual and ceremony and the part that the construction and use of cursus monuments played in the dynamics of neolithic society.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as Mill of Fintray, enclosure, pit, pit defined cursus, ring ditch NJ81NW 54 and the Aberdeenshire SMR records it as Mill of Fintray, cropmarks; cursus, enclosures; pit-alignments NJ81NW0042.

References:

Barclay G J and Maxwell G S 1998, THE CLEAVEN DYKE AND LITTLEOUR: MONUMENTS IN THE NEOLITHIC OF TAYSIDE, Soc Antiq Scot Monog Ser 13.

Brophy K 1998, 'Cursus Monuments and Bank Barrows of Tayside and Fife'. In Barclay G J and Maxwell G S eds. 1998, THE CLEAVEN DYKE AND LITTLEOUR: MONUMENTS IN THE NEOLITHIC OF TAYSIDE, Soc Antiq Scot Monog Ser 13, 92-108.

Brophy K 1999, 'The cursus monuments of Scotland'. In Barclay A and Harding J eds. 1999, PATHWAYS AND CEREMONIES: THE CURSUS MONUMENT OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND, Neo Stud Group 4, 119-129.

Harding J and Barclay A 1999, 'An introduction to the cursus monuments of Neolithic Britain and Ireland'. In Barclay A and Harding J eds. 1999, PATHWAYS AND CEREMONIES: THE CURSUS MONUMENT OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND, Neo Stud Group 4, 1-8.

RCAHMS 2007, IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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