Ancient Monuments

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Hill of Selbie, cairn 440m south east of Little Hillbrae

A Scheduled Monument in Inverurie and District, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2955 / 57°17'43"N

Longitude: -2.3371 / 2°20'13"W

OS Eastings: 379782

OS Northings: 822812

OS Grid: NJ797228

Mapcode National: GBR XB.2ZGV

Mapcode Global: WH8NQ.2WCL

Entry Name: Hill of Selbie, cairn 440m SE of Little Hillbrae

Scheduled Date: 30 March 2009

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12434

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Keithhall and Kinkell

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Inverurie and District

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a cairn, possibly a ring-cairn, of probable Bronze-Age date. It survives as a penannular stony bank, with possible kerbstones visible on the north-west and south-east. The monument is located on the summit of Hill of Selbie at around 190m above sea level.

The cairn measures 12m in diameter and 0.6m in maximum height, surrounded by an extensive area of tumble and possible field clearance that measures 20m in diameter.

The area to be scheduled is circular in 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 is visible as an upstanding feature, a relatively well-preserved example of a Bronze-Age cairn, possibly a ring cairn. The cairn survives to an impressive degree despite agricultural improvements to the area around. A stone cist was found on the site in the 19th century and a trial excavation was carried out in 1963. Similar monuments have revealed more than one burial. The mound is likely to seal a buried land surface and this could provide evidence of the environment during the Bronze Age when the monument was constructed and used. The monument has the potential to further our understanding of Bronze-Age funerary practices, as well as inform our knowledge of the structural features of large burial monuments.

Contextual characteristics

This monument's importance is enhanced by the rarity of ring-cairns in Strathdon. Only six ring cairns are know in the area, the only other excavated example being the small one at Sands of Forvie. The monument belongs to a diverse group of around 165 surviving Bronze-Age burial cairns in Strathdon, of which 71 have been removed. It is part of a much larger contemporary burial tradition that covers much of Scotland. Monuments like this across Strathdon share aspects of the same construction style, use and relative position in the landscape. The location of such sites was extremely important; this monument is sited in a prominent position, on a hill, with good views in all directions. A stone ball and two stone axes have been recovered from Selbie Hill (NJ82SW25). Sherds of beakers and cinerary urns, as well as bone fragments, have been recovered from Lowhillside (NJ82SW162) and Low Field (NJ82SW15), indicating the presence of an urn cemetery just over a kilometre to the north-east. The spatial analysis of this cairn and other ceremonial sites may further our understanding of funerary site location, the structure and nature of society (in the absence of obvious settlement remains from this period) and the Bronze-Age economy.

Associative Characteristics

The cairn is marked on the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey map as 'Cairn (Remains of)' and annotated 'Stone Cist found here'.

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. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand the Bronze-Age ritual landscape, as well as our knowledge of Bronze-Age social structure and economy.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NJ71SE39, Hill of Selbie: ring cairn. The monument is recorded in the Aberdeenshire SMR as NJ72SE0039, Hill of Selbie: cairns; cists; stones.

References:

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

Woodham A A 1963, 'Selbie Hill, Inverurie', DISCOVERY EXCAV SCOT, 1963, 1.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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