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Sands of Forvie, cairns 1115m south east of Waterside

A Scheduled Monument in Ellon and District, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.3298 / 57°19'47"N

Longitude: -1.9822 / 1°58'55"W

OS Eastings: 401169

OS Northings: 826589

OS Grid: NK011265

Mapcode National: GBR P9GB.W0S

Mapcode Global: WH9Q0.J196

Entry Name: Sands of Forvie, cairns 1115m SE of Waterside

Scheduled Date: 30 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12520

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Slains

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Ellon and District

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of three kerb cairns surviving as exposed stone mounds. They are located in the coastal dunes of the Sands of Forvie nature reserve at around 20m above sea level.

The northernmost cairn is around 5m in diameter. It has a very well-defined kerb and is unusually clear. The interior of this cairn was excavated in the late 1970s and revealed remains including cremated bone, flint and ceramic material. There was also evidence suggesting the burial was initially made inside a wooden box.

The SE measures about 5m in diameter and survives to a height of around 0.3m; a kerb is visible on the north-west and south-east. This example was also excavated, and beneath the stones is now a layer of terram membrane to protect the site. Some of the stones from the excavation have been used to weigh down this membrane. This example is also around 5m in diameter and survives to a height of around 0.3m.

On the SW cairn, some kerbstones appear to survive in situ on its N side. This cairn is also around 5m in diameter and stands to around 0.2m in height.

There is also a fourth cairn around 15m WNW of the northernmost example and an area of flint debitage, visible on an exposed land surface west of the SW example, indicating the high potential for further remains in the area.

The area to be scheduled is rectilinear 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 cairns are visible as upstanding features, relatively well-preserved examples of Bronze-Age kerb cairns. While the interiors of some have been excavated, this complex as a whoe, including the ground between the visible cairns, has high potential to include further remains related to the construction and use of the monument. The unexcavated cairns are likely to seal a buried land surface and this could provide evidence of the environment during the Bronze Age when the cairns were constructed and used. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of Bronze-Age funerary practice as well as inform our knowledge of the structural features of burial monuments and cemeteries.

Contextual characteristics

This monument belongs to a diverse group of around 165 surviving Bronze-Age burial cairns in the Strathdon area. Seventy-one of these have now been completely removed, the rest, including this example, surviving as visible and upstanding monuments to varying degrees. This monument's importance is enhanced by the rarity of kerb cairns in Strathdon. The grouping of these cairns is also significant, as the majority of cairns found in the area are isolated examples. The location of such sites was extremely important, and this particular example lies close to the North Sea, on low-lying coastal dunes. Further prehistoric remains, including hut circles, ring cairns, flint debitage and a number of hearths have been found in the area. Many of these remains were exposed in the 1950s but have since been reburied by the movement of the dunes, suggesting there may be extensive prehistoric settlement pattern surviving at Sands of Forvie, of which these cairns represent only a small part. Spatial analysis of this cairn and other burial sites may further our understanding of funerary site location, the structure of society and the Bronze-Age economy.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has the potential to contribute to an understanding of the past, in particular 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. Its loss would impede our ability to understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape, as well as our knowledge of Bronze-Age social structure and economy.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as NK02NW 13: Sands of Forvie and Aberdeenshire SMR as NK02NW0013: Sands of Forvie.

References:

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

Ralston I 1977, 'Sands of Forvie, kerb cairns', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1977, 3.

Ralston I 1978, 'Sands of Forvie: cairns', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1978, 9.

Ralston I 1979, 'Sands of Forvie (Slains parish): cairn', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1979, 13.

Ralston I 1980, 'Sands of Forvie (Slains parish): settlement and burial site', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1980, 10-11.

Sabine K and Ralston I 1984, 'Sands of Forvie (Slains parish)', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT 1984, 12.

Ralston I 1980, SANDS OF FORVIE, SLAINS, ABERDEENSHIRE (GORDON DISTRICT, GRAMPIAN REGION): REPORT OF A THIRD SEASON OF EXCAVATION IN 1979, ON BEHALF OF THE SCOTTISH DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT (ANCIENT MONUMENTS) AND THE NATURE CONSERVANCY COUNCIL, Aberdeen: Unpublished excavation report.

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, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Department of Zoology, 20-37.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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