Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Pitscurry, cairn 410m north of

A Scheduled Monument in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.3348 / 57°20'5"N

Longitude: -2.4569 / 2°27'24"W

OS Eastings: 372590

OS Northings: 827231

OS Grid: NJ725272

Mapcode National: GBR N99B.F52

Mapcode Global: WH8NG.7W9Y

Entry Name: Pitscurry, cairn 410m N of

Scheduled Date: 26 March 2008

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12302

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)

Location: Chapel Of Garioch

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: West Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a Bronze-Age burial cairn that survives as a brash-covered mound. It is sited in an area of forestry (clearly recently felled and replanted) and sits on the summit of an unnamed hill at around 130m above sea level.

The circular cairn measures around 6m in diameter and stands to a height of around 0.5m. There are only a few stones of the cairn visible and there is no evidence for any distinctive features such as a kerb.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on the top of the mound, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is visible as an upstanding feature, a relatively well-preserved example of a Bronze-Age cairn. Similar monuments have revealed more than one burial. The mound is likely to seal a buried land surface and this could provide evidence of the environment during the Bronze Age when the monument was constructed and used. This particular example is sited on the summit of the hill, in contrast to others in the Strathdon region that are situated on false summits or on lower-lying ground. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of Bronze-Age funerary practices, as well as inform our knowledge of the structural features of large burial monuments.

Contextual characteristics

This monument belongs to a diverse group of around 165 recorded Bronze-Age burial cairns in the Strathdon area, of which 71 have been removed. The rest, including this example, survive as visible and upstanding monuments to varying degrees. The location of such sites was extremely important, and this particular example has an unusual location on the summit of the hill. This location gives the monument particularly strong and extensive views in all directions, including to the dominant feature of the area, the hill range of Bennachie. It follows from this that the monument itself would also have been visible from a large part of the surrounding area. The only exception to this is the view from the north-east through the east, where the visibility is much shorter due to the rising land in this area. Spatial analysis of this cairn and other burial sites may further our understanding of funerary site location, the structure and nature of society (in the absence of obvious settlement remains from this period) and the Bronze-Age economy.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has the potential to contribute to an understanding of the past, in particular Bronze-Age burial architecture and practice in Scotland. It also fits into a distinctive pattern of prehistoric burial and settlement in the Strathdon area. Skeletal remains and artefacts from such burials have the potential to tell us about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. The old ground surfaces sealed by the monument can provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like and how the prehistoric people who interred their dead here managed the surrounding land. This unusual position occupied by this example raises many questions about the positioning of cairns which the monument has a high potential to answer. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape, as well as our knowledge of Bronze-Age social structure and economy.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NJ72NW 133.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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