Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Mote Hill, cairn 365m north west of Cowstones

A Scheduled Monument in East Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2412 / 57°14'28"N

Longitude: -2.2594 / 2°15'33"W

OS Eastings: 384444

OS Northings: 816755

OS Grid: NJ844167

Mapcode National: GBR XF.ZKFK

Mapcode Global: WH9Q8.88C4

Entry Name: Mote Hill, cairn 365m NW of Cowstones

Scheduled Date: 20 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12440

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Fintray

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: East Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a substantial Bronze-Age burial cairn that survives as a grass-covered mound. It is sited in an area of pasture near the crest of Temple hill, on the hill's SW face at around 100m above sea level.

The cairn measures around 24m in diameter and stands to a height of around 2m. A robber trench, possibly related to the excavation of the site in 1887 when an urn and human remains were recovered, runs from the NNE edge of the cairn into its centre. Some exposed stone is visible on the cairn, and a small corrugated iron hut has been constructed in the centre with another small corrugated iron structure on the SE arc of the cairn.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, centred on 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. Specifically excluded from this scheduling are the above-ground remains of the central corrugated iron hut and the corrugated iron structure on the SE arc, and the above-ground elements of the stone dyke and associated post-and-wire fence that mark the limit of the scheduled area on the S arc of the site.

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 and substantial example of a Bronze-Age cairn. Although the primary burial appears to have been previously excavated, similar monuments have revealed more than one burial beneath the cairn. The cairn is also 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. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of Bronze-Age funerary practice 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 surviving Bronze-Age burial cairns in the Strathdon area. Seventy-one of these have now been completely removed, the rest, including this example, surviving as visible and upstanding monuments to varying degrees. The location of such sites was extremely important, and this particular example has wide views of the surrounding landscape in all directions, including Bennachie to the west, a common feature of prehistoric sites in the area. Bennachie is also a significant prehistoric landscape in its own right. A second cairn, known now as Donald's Hillock, also survives nearby, around 800m south-west of Mote Hill. Spatial analysis of this cairn and other burial sites may further our understanding of funerary site location, the structure of society and the Bronze-Age economy.

Associative characteristics

Local tradition names the site as 'Roman Camp'.

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 surface 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. 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 NJ81NW 22: Mote Hill, Hatton of Fintray and Aberdeenshire SMR as NJ81NW 0021: Mote Hill.



Bogdan N and Bryce I B D 1991, 'Castles, manors and 'town houses' survey', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 1991.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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