Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Middlehill, cairn 105m north of

A Scheduled Monument in East Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2508 / 57°15'2"N

Longitude: -2.2202 / 2°13'12"W

OS Eastings: 386810

OS Northings: 817810

OS Grid: NJ868178

Mapcode National: GBR XJ.GVV3

Mapcode Global: WH9Q8.V0YS

Entry Name: Middlehill, cairn 105m N of

Scheduled Date: 20 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12418

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: New Machar

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: East Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a burial cairn likely to date to the neolithic or Bronze Age. It survives as a tree- and turf-covered mound, located at 105m above sea level on a low S-facing knoll, overlooking the River Don 2km to the south.

The cairn measures approximately 6m in diameter and around its perimeter a number of large stones are visible that may indicate the outer limit of stone mounding, used to limit the cairn's extent. It survives to approximately 0.7m in height but appears taller, sitting as it does on a low knoll.

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. The scheduling extends as far as, but does not include, the post-and-wire fence running to the south of the cairn.

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 neolithic or Bronze-Age cairn. The mound is likely to contain one or more burials and it is also likely to seal a buried land surface, providing information not only about the people that were buried here but the environment during the neolithic or Bronze Age when the monument was constructed and used. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of neolithic or Bronze-Age funerary practices, as well as inform our knowledge of the structural features of modest burial monuments.

Contextual characteristics

This monument belongs to a diverse group of around 165 recorded neolithic or Bronze-Age burial cairns and barrows 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 is interesting because it sits on a low knoll overlooking the River Don to the south. The river was clearly an important element of the landscape to those who built this cairn and along with other broadly contemporary monuments such as the standing stone to the north-east, an important indicator of the exploitation of this land by prehistoric communities. Spatial analysis of this and other burial sites can further our understanding of funerary site location, the structure and nature of society (in the absence of obvious settlement remains from this period in the area) and the neolithic and Bronze-Age economy.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has the inherent potential to contribute to an understanding of the past, in particular neolithic or 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. The loss of this well-preserved monument would impede our ability to understand the neolithic or Bronze-Age ritual landscape, as well as our knowledge of neolithic or Bronze-Age social structure and economy.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NJ81NE 143.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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