Ancient Monuments

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Greenlands, hut circles and cairns 380m south of

A Scheduled Monument in Inverurie and District, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2502 / 57°15'0"N

Longitude: -2.3127 / 2°18'45"W

OS Eastings: 381227

OS Northings: 817763

OS Grid: NJ812177

Mapcode National: GBR XC.FZ0J

Mapcode Global: WH8P3.F1X8

Entry Name: Greenlands, hut circles and cairns 380m S of

Scheduled Date: 4 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12483

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: field clearance cairn, cairnfield

Location: Fintray

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Inverurie and District

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of ten hut circles and numerous clearance cairns likely to date to later prehistory. It survives as a series of turf-, grass- and tree-covered mounds and ringworks in a mature conifer woodland, with a number of access paths crossing the site. The monument lies at 90m above sea level on elevated ground north-east of Kintore. It overlooks the River Don 2km to the south but views to and from the site are obscured by mature commercial forestry.

The hut circles are concentrated in a relatively small area measuring approximately 270m NE-SW by 190m transversely. They individually range in external diameter from 7m to 17m. Several are noticeable by their upstanding, circular stone courses and in at least four of these an entrance is visible in their southern arc. The remaining hut circles survive as very faint ringworks that are largely obscured by ground vegetation. Some 20 hut circles have been previously reported at this site but only 12 have been recorded in modern times. Archaeologists have partially excavated the two easternmost examples and this has revealed well-preserved structural remains and artefacts, reflecting the buildings' design, construction and use. There are numerous small cairns dotted among the hut circles and these are thought to be clearance piles formed as a by-product of land improvements for agriculture. There are around 20 examples and they appear to respect the position of their neighbouring hut circles suggesting they may be broadly contemporary. The cairns can measure up to 4m in diameter and some are visible to around 1.5m high, although partly obscured by woodland vegetation. This dense concentration of round houses and clearance cairns suggests a very busy period (or periods) of settlement and it is therefore very likely that the immediate, surrounding land contains associated structures and deposits.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which evidence relating to their 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 represents the accumulated remains of a relatively large prehistoric settlement and vestiges of surrounding, contemporary land use. Partial excavation of the two eastern-most round houses suggest there are at least two building periods: the first during the middle Bronze Age and the second, during the Iron Age. Much of the structural remains of these round houses and clearance cairns survive to a marked degree with several hut circles surviving to several courses of masonry, and mounding to over 1m high in the case of several clearance cairns. Structural details are also visible in their interiors, including entrance features, a modified ground plan indicating more than one phase of building and building course detail. With undisturbed archaeological deposits likely to survive beneath these upstanding remains, this site has considerable potential to tell us more about the nature of settlement, round house architecture and domestic habitation in the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Environmental evidence that may be sealed by these remains can help us build up a picture of the environment at the time. Overall, there is a dense group of individual round houses and agricultural remains here and this can help us understand the nature and variety in prehistoric community living.

Contextual characteristics

This is a well-preserved and uncommon example of dense prehistoric settlement surviving in a lowland environment. Individual round houses of this type are widespread across Scotland and an indicator of settlement and domestic activity in a particular area. What makes this concentration very interesting is its density, position and good survival in a lowland context where modern land use pressures often result in significantly greater damage. The survival of clearance cairns among the round houses indicates a level of exploitation and control over land that surrounded the settlement and this can help us build up a picture of the changing landscape in later prehistory. Together, these remains have the potential to tell us more about the agricultural, domestic and economic basis for settlement in this part of 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, in particular prehistoric agricultural settlement and associated activity in the Bronze Age and Iron Age, and the basis for community exploitation of this part of NE Scotland. Unusually good survival of several roundhouses improves this potential as they are likely to seal artefactual and ecofactual deposits. The loss of this example would significantly impede our ability to understand the domestic arrangements for prehistoric living in Strathdon and more widely across lowland Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NJ81NW 4 and Aberdeenshire Council Sites and Monuments Record records the site as NJ81NW 0003.

Aerial photographs:

RAF 540/1419 F 22 0061.

RAF 540/1419 F 22 0062.

References:

Callander J G 1925, 'Long cairns and other prehistoric monuments in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, and a short cist at Brucetyon, Alyth, Perthshire', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 59, 23-4.

Cook M and Engl R 2005, 'KINTORE LANDSCAPE PROJECT PHASE 2: BALBITHAN FOREST' [circulated data structure report], Edinburgh: AOC Archaeology Group.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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