Ancient Monuments

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Benoaks, stone row 150m north of

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.3198 / 55°19'11"N

Longitude: -3.4454 / 3°26'43"W

OS Eastings: 308372

OS Northings: 603813

OS Grid: NT083038

Mapcode National: GBR 46CX.WT

Mapcode Global: WH6WL.1KL3

Entry Name: Benoaks, stone row 150m N of

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12614

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone rows

Location: Kirkpatrick-Juxta

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a stone row of three standing stones, a ritual monument dating to the third or second millennium BC (Neolithic or early Bronze Age period). The monument is located on a level terrace 700m to the west of the River Annan, at around 105m above sea level.

The monument consists of a straight alignment of three earthfast boulders with a total length of 8.7m. The row is aligned NNE-SSW and the stones diminish in size from the SSW to the NNE, measuring 1.7m, 0.95m and 0.7m respectively. The stones are similar in plan dimension, the SSW stone measures 0.95m by 0.8m at the base, the central stone measures 0.95m by 0.55m and the NNE stone measures 0.95m by 0.45m. The boulders are unevenly spaced, the one at the SSW end lies 4m from the middle stone, which in turn is 1.7m from the NNE stone. A modern Ordnance Survey benchmark has been incised into the base of the SSW stone.

The area to be scheduled is rectilinear on plan, to include the visible remains of the monument, as well as an area around it within which evidence relating to its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. To allows for its maintenance, the scheduling extends up to, but excludes, the fence forming the W side of the scheduled area.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is a row of three earthfast boulders and is interpreted as a stone alignment. Such monuments typically date to the Neolithic or early Bronze Age and archaeologists think they had a ceremonial, ritualistic significance. The form of the stones indicates that they are naturally shaped as opposed to being worked in some way. The three visible stones all appear to be within their original positions, set vertical to the ground surface. The stone is eroding at weak points on the surface, a process apparently exacerbated by lichen growth.

The monument may have originally been a longer row or even formed part of another monument, such as stone circle, rather than the short row of three stones surviving today. Evidence relating to further stones or their settings may survive beneath the surrounding ground surface. The sockets into which the stones have been set may contain packing material, which may be archaeologically significant. The alignment may also be surrounded by other archaeologically significant features and deposits that could relate to its use in the society for which it was constructed or by subsequent societies aware of the monument. The monument therefore has the potential to inform our understanding of both the construction and use of a ritual monument. This includes the activities that happened in the vicinity, both within the active lifetime of the monument and in the period of time that it has stood in the landscape since. The monument also has the capacity to further our knowledge of the society that constructed it, the beliefs they may have held and the rituals which they undertook.

The stone sockets may also contain valuable environmental evidence, which has the potential to inform our knowledge of the landscape within which the monument was built, how it may have looked, what habitat types existed and the uses to which the land was being put. Geological analysis of the stones themselves may indicate where they are likely to have originated, knowledge which could further our understanding of the effort to which a society went to construct a particular type of monument and therefore perhaps understand the level of significance that it may have held.

Contextual characteristics

Benoaks is the only recorded stone row in eastern Dumfriesshire, and such stone alignments are also a very rare monument-type in Scottish Borders. As a class this monument tends to occur on the W coast and in Perthshire. In eastern Dumfriesshire, the remains of four stone circles and 13 individual standing stones are also known. To what extent individual stones may once have formed parts of larger stone settings is unclear. Monuments that comprise or include stone settings vary in their shape, form and position in the landscape. Analysis of this monument and comparison with comparable monuments has the potential to further our knowledge of such monuments, specifically to understand how and why these variations occur and perhaps even what they mean.

The monument is located on a terrace around 700m to the west of the River Annan in a gently undulating, open landscape. Stone settings have been often shown to be located with specific regard to landscape features such as routeways, views and landmarks such as hills and outcrops. The confluence of three major watercourses - the River Annan, the Evan Water and the Moffat Water - is 1980m to the SSE. Of the 13 standing stones identified in eastern Dumfriesshire, four are located along the upper reaches of the Annan and this stone setting is also located in this area. The ground rises to the north-west of the monument to Coats Hill, the summit of which is around 1500m to the NNE. There are particularly good views to the north and east, across the floodplain and to higher ground on the other side of the broad valley of Annandale.

The monument is also situated within a verge of the A701, a road that was realigned at some point after 1900. The date of the origins of this routeway is unclear but it is noted on Roy's military survey of 1747-55. It is problematic to claim any great antiquity for this route however, or that it has any long association with the monument. The presence of the alignment of a Roman road to the north-west of the monument may confirm that routes within the area have varied. However, further analysis of the monument and its place within the landscape has the capacity to further our knowledge of the landscape settings of such ritual monuments.

The alignment of stone settings has also been shown to make reference, in some cases, to observation lines upon which the rise or setting points of the sun or the moon on a distant horizon at key dates in the year. Analysis of the alignment of this stone and such events could further our understanding of this phenomenon and inform our knowledge of the importance and significance of cosmology to contemporary society.

Analysis of other stone settings has indicated that intervisibility with other monuments can also factor in their location. This particular monument is not particularly obtrusive in its low-lying situation in the present landscape. There are few monuments of comparable date identified within the immediate area, although a Neolithic stone axe-head was recovered during ploughing in 1953 around 1510m to the ENE testifying to a human presence in this area at that time. However, the monument is situated within fertile, improved, agricultural land and such intensive long-lived use is likely to have removed traces of less substantial monuments. A number of settlements, possibly of later, Iron-Age date, have been identified to the west and north of the monument. These are located around 975m W, 1370m WNW and 1550m NW of this site. The nature of any relationships with the monument are unclear and unproven. Further study of the area and the viewsheds from and to the monument has the capacity to inform our knowledge of the importance of intervisibility in the siting of this monument.

Associative characteristics

The monument is depicted on the First Ordnance Survey and is noted as 'Standing Stones, Supposed Site of Battle, (13th century)'. Further details of the battle with which the monument is associated are not known, nor is the original source of this information.

The SSW stone has been used by the Ordnance Survey for a benchmark, the symbol of which is incised on the W face of the base of the stone and is obscured by the surrounding by vegetation. The benchmark is shown on the First Edition Ordnance Survey with a height of 344.2 OD.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular our understanding of ceremonial monuments of the Neolithic or early Bronze Age. Specifically it has the capacity to further our understanding of the construction, function and location of such ritual monuments within both this region and across Scotland, as well as inform our knowledge of the landscape in which the monument was constructed. The loss of this monument would significantly impede our ability to understand the ritual landscape of Neolithic or early Bronze age in eastern Dumfriesshire and our knowledge of the importance of cosmology, intervisibility and topography to the siting of such monuments in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as Dyke, standing stones, NT00SE 17. Dumfries and Galloway Council SMR records the monument as MDG4630. Copies of these reports are appended.

References

RCAHMS, 1997, Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, 57, 110, 111, 296, no. 544, Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Thom A and AS, 1990, Stone Rows and Standing Stones. Britain, Ireland and Brittany, BAR International Series 560 (i).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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