Ancient Monuments

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South Leylodge Steading, stone circle 110m west of

A Scheduled Monument in East Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2095 / 57°12'34"N

Longitude: -2.3877 / 2°23'15"W

OS Eastings: 376678

OS Northings: 813256

OS Grid: NJ766132

Mapcode National: GBR X7.RKX9

Mapcode Global: WH8P8.917Z

Entry Name: South Leylodge Steading, stone circle 110m W of

Scheduled Date: 4 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12350

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone circle or ring

Location: Kintore

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: East Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the remains of a recumbent stone circle dating to the late neolithic or early Bronze Age. A large, recumbent granite boulder set between two flanking monoliths are the upstanding and visible remains of the SW arc of a stone circle, the rest of which is likely to survive beneath the present ground surface. The monument lies in a cultivated field on flat, low-lying ground at 110m above sea level, south-west of Kintore and the River Don (approximately 4km to the northeast).

Archaeologists estimate the stone circle to have been approximately 18m in diameter: researchers previously found what may be other stones belonging to the projected N arc of the circle. The recumbent is approximately 1.4m long and this, as would be expected, is shorter than the heights of the two flanking granite monoliths (1.7m and 1.5m).

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to their construction and use 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

This type of monument can include structural features such as a platform, cairn and burials within and around the circle. At South Leylodge there is nothing to indicate disturbance below the current ploughing horizon, so there is the potential for the survival of good evidence for the form, function, development and use of this religious site over time, as well as ecofactual evidence that will aid the reconstruction of what the environment looked like when the monument was built. The essential character of this monument still survives in the well-preserved recumbent stone and its flankers, which may relate to the closing episode for the site.

Contextual characteristics.

This is one of a relatively rare, geographically confined and carefully positioned group of prehistoric religious monuments. Recumbent stone circles are a distinctive form of monument unique to NE Scotland: less than 100 are known and 36 of these are in Strathdon. We know that early prehistoric farmers increasingly exploited the strath and the number of these recumbent stone circles signals the spread of religious events along the strath from around the middle of the third millennium BC onwards.

While the distribution of these monuments is confined to NE Scotland, they share several physical characteristics with other forms of stone circles and related cairns (such as the tight group of Clava cairns to the west and the wider distribution of stone circles across the remainder of Scotland). Although the origin of this monument type is unclear, some researchers suggest that it is strongly linked to ring cairns and Clava cairns as an expression of local ritual tradition of monuments that may share similar structural elements: an outer stone circle (size-graded stones being deliberately positioned to accentuate a particular arc), a cairn, a platform, radial divisions or spreads and the artefactual remains of various activities. What makes the recumbent forms unique is their use of a horizontally-lain stone within the S arc of the circle. Researchers think this feature is connected to specific lunar or solar alignments and events, the framing of specific views to and from the monument, or the marking of an end (or closure) of a particular episode of use for the monument. The significance of individual examples such as South Leylodge increases because while the monuments draw on common ideas there is variability in dating, design and sequence.

With the expanding settlement and landuse of Strathdon by communities in the late neolithic and early Bronze Age, South Leylodge is one monument in a wider landscape, not just of connected recumbent stone circles but also of associated ceremonial funerary monuments, such as the more frequent standing stones, stone alignments and burial monuments. It belongs to a concentrated group of broadly contemporary monuments including a local concentration of standing stones and another recumbent stone circle approximately 3km to the southeast. The landscape position of these monuments is a key feature in determining where to build and, in the case of the low lying position of South Leylodge, this is in contrast to the more prominent position of other examples in the strath. With the other recumbent stone circles that survive in this part of Scotland, South Leylodge can contribute to our understanding of the reach and influence of recumbent stone circles and their significance in such a small geographic area.

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 prehistoric religious practice, the chronological development of religious monuments and wider changes in society between neolithic and Bronze-Age communities. The loss of this example would significantly impede our ability to understand variation in (and its meaning across) this important monument type and therefore the study of Scotland in prehistory.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NJ71SE 3 and Aberdeenshire Council Sites and Monuments Record records the site as NJ71SE 003.


Burl H A W 1976, THE STONE CIRCLES OF THE BRITISH ISLES, London and New Haven: Yale University Press.

Burl H A W 1970, 'The recumbent stone circles of North-East Scotland', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 102, 68.

Coles F R 1902, 'Report on the Stone Circles in Aberdeenshire (Inverurie, Eastern Parishes and Insch Districts) with measured plans and drawings, obtained under the Gunning fellowship', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 36, 500-1.


Thom A, Thom A S and Burl H A W 1980, MEGALITHIC RINGS: PLANS AND DATA FOR 229 MONUMENTS IN BRITAIN, Brit Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 81: Oxford, 198-9.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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