Ancient Monuments

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Berryhill, enclosure 290m north of

A Scheduled Monument in Westhill and District, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1654 / 57°9'55"N

Longitude: -2.3034 / 2°18'12"W

OS Eastings: 381750

OS Northings: 808324

OS Grid: NJ817083

Mapcode National: GBR XD.WFB5

Mapcode Global: WH8PH.L5C8

Entry Name: Berryhill, enclosure 290m N of

Scheduled Date: 20 February 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12334

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: enclosure (domestic or defensive)

Location: Skene

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Westhill and District

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises an oval drystone enclosure of later prehistoric date. It is situated at the summit of Hill of Keir at around 220m above sea level.

The enclosure measures about 32.5m N-S by 29m transversely, within a stone wall up to 6m in thickness and 0.4m in height. The wall appears to consist of a double skin with a rubble core. There is an entrance on the east, where the wall terminals appear bulbous.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, 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 of drystone construction and is a good example of an enclosed settlement site, likely to date to the Iron Age, surviving in an area that has in the past been afforested. The monument is likely to contain archaeological deposits that can tell us about the economy of the inhabitants of the enclosure, the date at which the enclosure was constructed, used and abandoned, and the environment in which the enclosure was built.

Contextual characteristics

This is an exceptionally unusual monument type in this area, the architecture being more reminiscent of Atlantic duns or the circular homesteads or ring forts of Perthshire and Kinross and Angus than the earthwork forts of Aberdeenshire. As such, it has the potential to enhance significantly our understanding of later prehistoric drystone architecture in Scotland, as well of Iron-Age society in Aberdeenshire. Several nearby finds enhance this discovery: a Bronze-Age accessory cup with an ammonite inside and a flint arrowhead lying nearby. These have led to speculation that an enclosed cremation cemetery may have preceded the later prehistoric fort. The monument commands extensive views in all directions, owing to its hilltop location. Comparing and contrasting the enclosure to other examples both nearby and within the wider area can enable an understanding of how such sites are positioned within the landscape, as well as provide enhanced contexts for the Iron-Age economy and structure of society. Information gained from the preservation and study of this site can be used to gain an insight into the wider knowledge of Iron-Age enclosed settlement across Scotland.

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 and, in particular, a type of monument that is unusual in Aberdeenshire but finds parallels elsewhere in Scotland. Domestic remains and artefacts from settlements have the potential to tell us not only about wider prehistoric society, but also its architecture, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contacts with. Archaeological deposits preserved within the enclosure may provide information about what the contemporary environment looked like and how the prehistoric farmers who lived here managed this resource. Proximity to the findspot of a Bronze-Age accessory cup, indicating the potential for survival of other Bronze-Age remains, enhances the monument's importance. The monument's loss would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape both in Strathdon and across Scotland, as well as our knowledge of Iron-Age social structure, economy and building practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NJ80NW1, Hill of Keir: enclosure. Aberdeenshire SMR records the monument as NJ80NW0001, Hill of Keir: enclosures; entrances.

Photographs:

RCAHMS D40070 1998 Hill of Keir: enclosure; rig.

References:

Murray J C and Murray H K 2003, BERRYHILL, HILL OF KEIR, SKENE, ABERDEENSHIRE: ARCHAEOLOGICAL WALKOVER FOR PROPOSED TELECOMMUNICATIONS SITE, Ellon: unpublished manuscript.

Murray J C 2004, BERRYHILL, HILL OF KEIR, SKENE, ABERDEENSHIRE: ARCHAEOLOGICAL WATCHING BRIEF FOR SCOTTISH & SOUTHERN ENERGY PLC, Ellon: unpublished manuscript.

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

Shepherd I A G and Cowie T G 1977, 'An enlarged food vessel, urn burial and associated artefacts from Kiltry Knock, Alvah, Banff and Buchan', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 108, 118.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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