Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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1 Cluny Cottages, building and enclosures 475m WNW of

A Scheduled Monument in Ellon and District, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.3459 / 57°20'45"N

Longitude: -1.9507 / 1°57'2"W

OS Eastings: 403066

OS Northings: 828374

OS Grid: NK030283

Mapcode National: GBR P9J9.R04

Mapcode Global: WH9PV.0MCF

Entry Name: 1 Cluny Cottages, building and enclosures 475m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 30 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12532

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: house

Location: Slains

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Ellon and District

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the grass-covered remains of a round-ended building and two related enclosures. They lie in dunes on the Sands of Forvie nature reserve, around 1km west of the shoreline at Collieston, and at a height of around 35m above sea level.

Reduced to grass-covered banks, the remains can be clearly seen on the ground. The round-ended structure measures around 17m NW-SE by 8m transversely, and is likely the remains of a round-ended longhouse. The bank is between 2-3m in thickness and up to 1m in height on the NE side, with the SW wall visibly lower. This leaves an internal area of around 11m NW-SE by 4m transversely. The interior is visibly higher than the exterior ground surface, although no internal features are evident, and no stonework is visible. The location of any entrance is unknown, although two gaps, one in the NE corner and the other in the south-west, may be possible doorways.

Around 4m south-west of the longhouse is a roughly square enclosure around 14m N-S. The surrounding bank is around 3m in thickness and no entrances are visible. The second enclosure is of irregular form and lies to the north of the longhouse. It is around 25m N-S by around 23m transversely overall, within a bank around 3m thick and up to 1m high. It is believed these enclosures represent stock pens or similar, associated with the occupation of the longhouse.

The area to be scheduled is rectilinear on plan, to include the remains described and an area around within which related remains may be expected to be found, 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

Although the structure only survives as turf-covered walls, it is an extremely well preserved example of a pre-Improvement farmstead. An extensive pattern of rig and furrow cultivation also survives nearby and this may be related to the structures. Other excavated sites on the Sands of Forvie, from various periods, have shown an extremely high quality of survival of remains, with many sites having been covered by the dunes for many decades and even centuries, thus protecting the remains in question. The survival of the medieval settlement of Forvie around 2km south-west of this site is an excellent example of this process; dune mapping by Scottish Natural Heritage suggests this farming site was covered in the late 18th century, only being uncovered by the movement of the dunes more recently. The lack of later farming in this landscape has also helped protect the remains on the site. Buried deposits have the potential to reveal valuable information about the medieval period of the area and the people in the area at that time.

In addition to the potential of the dunes assisting preservation, the 1st edition mapping by the Ordnance Survey indicates that Sand Loch was formerly much further east, and much larger, and partially covered the area of the site. This waterlogging of the site may have assisted with the preservation of organic material.

Contextual characteristics

The survival of medieval farm buildings of this type is rare in the Strathdon area, as much of the landscaped has been heavily altered by Improvement era and modern farming and the surviving examples tend to exist outside of modern cultivated land. At Pitcarmick, in NE Perth, a number of similar buildings survive, dated by excavation to the early medieval period.

The reasons for the lack of modern cultivation of the area are obvious, but the remains of the medieval town of Forvie and a high level of prehistoric settlement remains suggest that farming was carried out on this land for many years. The relationship of this site to this landscape, and to the medieval settlement at Forvie to the south, has the potential to reveal valuable information about the medieval period in the area.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular medieval farming settlement and practice. This potential is enhanced by the rarity of this type of monument in the Strathdon area. The loss of this monument would impede our understanding of medieval settlement and farming in Strathdon and across Scotland, along with our ability to understand the wider medieval period of the country.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as NK02NW 14: Sands of Forvie Buildings; Enclosure; Rig and by the Aberdeenshire Council SMR as NK02NW0014: Sands of Forvie Buildings; Enclosures; Holes; Pens


OS/69/109 1969 B&W Vertical, Aberdeen.



Ralston I 1997, 'The archaeology of the Sands of Forvie and the Ythan Valley'. In Gorman M L ed. 1997 THE YTHAN: A FESTSCHRIFT FOR GEORGE DUNNET, University Department of Zoology: Aberdeen.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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