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Barrow and pit alignment, 205m north east and 100m NNW of Westways

A Scheduled Monument in Carse of Gowrie, Perth and Kinross

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.3834 / 56°23'0"N

Longitude: -3.3014 / 3°18'4"W

OS Eastings: 319740

OS Northings: 721997

OS Grid: NO197219

Mapcode National: GBR 24.1VMD

Mapcode Global: WH6QF.8T58

Entry Name: Barrow and pit alignment, 205m NE and 100m NNW of Westways

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1999

Last Amended: 30 July 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7249

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: pit alignment; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Kinfauns

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Carse of Gowrie

Traditional County: Perthshire

Description

The monument comprises a barrow and pit alignment visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. Both of these are prehistoric in date. The barrow is visible as circular feature with two distinct burial slots or graves within it and is likely to date to the Bronze Age (2,500-800BC). The pit alignment is a Neolithic (4,100-2,500BC) land boundary or ritual monument visible as at least 16 pits.

The barrow measures around 18m across and is visible as an interrupted circular ditch with a gap on the south-west side. This is likely to be the result of differential crop growth as opposed to an actual break. Within the barrow two pits are visible, likely to represent burials. The pit alignment is around 30m in length and is orientated north north-west to south south-east and comprises at least 16 circular pits. The pits are different sizes measuring between 0.6m to 2.1m across.

The scheduled area is in two parts; the western part is irregular and the eastern is circular measuring 40m in diameter. It includes the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The western area extends up to but does not include the modern field boundary.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s) (see Designations Policy and Selection Guidance, Annex 1, para 17):

a.   The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of ritual and funerary monuments in prehistory as a pit alignment and barrow, identified through oblique aerial photography and dated to the Neolithic (4,100-2,500BC) and Bronze Age (2,500–800BC) periods.

b.   The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. As buried archaeological features the pit alignment and barrow have the potential to provided material for radiocarbon dating and environmental analysis as well as artefacts. The barrow may also contain human remains, these have the potential to provide information on sex, age, health and other characteristics of those interred within the barrow. Detailed study can tell us about land use; ritual activity; and local environmental conditions during the Neolithic and Bronze Age  

c.   The monument is a rare example of a Neolithic pit alignment and a Bronze Age barrow with a double burial.

e.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past, in particular, it holds the potential to enhance our understanding of prehistoric ritual and funerary practices within Scotland, and there is high potential for archaeological evidence to survive in and around the monument.

f.   The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the historic landscape by analysis of distribution of these monuments with our sites of a similar age and function.

Assessment of Cultural Significance

This statement of national importance has been informed by the following assessment of cultural significance:

Intrinsic characteristics (how the remains of a site or place contribute to our knowledge of the past)

This monument has been recorded as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs and survives as buried deposits below the ploughsoil. The monument comprises two parts; a Neolithic pit alignment and a Bronze Age barrow. The pit alignment is made of 16 roughly circular pits aligned north north-west by south south-east.  To the east of the pit alignment is a circular barrow within which two pits are visible. These are likely to represent burials. There is a scattering of pits between the two features and overlying the pit alignment is a section of ditch which is likely to be a later field boundary.

Pit alignments are known to date from the Mesolithic (c.8,500BC-4,100BC) through to the Iron Age (c.800BC-AD400) and are likely to have had several functions. They are thought to have been remains of quarrying; land boundaries; post holes for timber structures or part of ritual activity. Excavations of pit alignments elsewhere has shown that these monuments may have been created over an extended period of time. For example, the alignment at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire has pits was shown to have pits from across this date range (Canmore ID 36671: Murray and Murray: 2009). Some of the pits may have had pottery, stone tools or other items placed within them. Excavated examples from East Lothian, were found to contain pottery, deliberately broken and deposited within the pits as well as large amounts of charcoal from different species of tree. The wood had been burnt deliberately before being placed within the pits. Other pits were backfilled while some were left open to the elements and allowed to weather naturally (Lelong, O. 2007). It is clear from excavated examples that these pit alignments were constructed over a period of time, perhaps generations and that they have represented more than simple land boundaries. Study of this monument in relation to other pit alignments can add to our understanding of Neolithic society and its relationship to the prehistoric landscape.

The barrow measures 18m across and is surrounded by a ditch. Barrows are an example of a form of burial practice where one or more burials, often with grave goods, was sealed over by an earthen mound. Excavation of similar monuments has shown that later burials can also be inserted into these monuments, displaying a degree of a re-use and development. The presence of an encircling ditch around the barrow suggests a more complex arrangement, function and significance here, than with simpler, mounded examples.

A similar excavated example from Seafield West, Highland (Canmore ID 13393) revealed two central burials with cremations in pits, a stone lined burial (cist) and other cremation burials in pits outwith the barrow (Cressey and Sheridan 2003). Other excavated barrows such as at North Mains, Strathallan, Perth and Kinross (scheduled monument SM7735, Canmore ID 26005) revealed a complex history of construction (Barclay G J 1983), scientific study of this monument may find similar evidence.

Archaeological monuments often contain features that are not visible in aerial photographs and can have well preserved stratified layers of archaeological deposits. There is therefore potential for the survival of archaeological features and deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as human remains, charcoal, artefacts or pollen within the barrow and its enclosing ditch and within the pits of the pit alignment. These monuments have the potential to provide information about the function and date of the features and their relationship to similar monuments. Study of the monument's form and construction techniques compared with other barrows and pit alignments would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of these monuments.

Contextual characteristics (how a site or place relates to its surroundings and/or to our existing knowledge of the past)

Pit alignments are a class of monument which are predominantly found in eastern Scotland. Around 450 are recorded in the National Record for the Historic Environment; around 380 are located in the east of Scotland from the Scottish Borders to Aberdeen. The majority of these (c.400) are recorded as cropmarks in agricultural areas, the remainder survive as upstanding field monuments on land that has not been subject to agricultural improvements. Locally, there are 70 examples recorded in Perth and Kinross, both as cropmark sites and upstanding field monuments.

Barrows are part of a sub-class of more than 600 earthen burial monuments known of across Scotland – some are upstanding field monuments which generally survive on marginal land where there has been little or no agricultural improvement. Others, such as this monument, survive on lower, fertile land such as in improved agricultural land and are generally known through cropmark evidence. There are notable concentrations of barrows across the lowlands, eastern coasts and in the Western and Northern Isles. Locally, there almost 90 examples recorded in the Perth and Kinross area, both as upstanding field monuments and cropmark sites.

These monuments are located on slightly elevated ground between the Pow of Glencarse and the Cairnie Pow. The barrow, in particular, is unusual in that it is located on low lying ground to the east of Pans Hill. Many such prehistoric burial monuments are found in elevated or prominent locations, whereas this monument is low lying. Comparison and study of these monuments with other similar monuments may provide important insights into the prehistoric landscape and add to our understanding of social organisation, land division and land-use.

Associative characteristics (how a site or place relates to people, events, and/or historic and social movements)

There are no known associative characteristics that contribute to the site's national importance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Historic Environment Scotland http://www.canmore.org.uk reference number CANMORE ID 28216 (accessed on 13/08/2020).

Local Authority HER Reference MPK 3326 (accessed on 13/08/2020).

Barclay, G J 1983. "Sites of the third millennium BC to the first millennium AD at North Mains, Strathallan, Perthshire in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Vol. 113 pp 122-281: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-352-1/dissemination/pdf/vol_113/113_122_281.pdf (accessed 23/10/2020).

Cressey, M & Sheridan, A 2003 'The excavation of a Bronze Age cemetery at Seafield West, near Inverness, Highland', in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 133 (2003), 47–84. https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-352-1/dissemination/pdf/vol_113/113_122_281.pdf (accessed 23/10/2020)

Lelong, O, (2007). The Lands of Ancient Lothian, Interpreting the Archaeology of the A1 (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland).

Murray, H.K. and Murray, J. C. (2009). A Tale of the Unknown Unknowns: A Mesolithic Pit Alignment and a Neolithic Timber Hall at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire. (Oxford, Oxbow Books).

Wright D (2014). Wellhill 2014. Data Structure Report: WH14.1, WH14.2 and WH14.3. Unpublished SERF Data Structure Report: University of Glasgow.

Canmore

https://canmore.org.uk/site/28216/


HER/SMR Reference

MPK3326

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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