Ancient Monuments

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Pit Alignment, 160m south east of Wellhill House

A Scheduled Monument in Strathallan, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.3243 / 56°19'27"N

Longitude: -3.5765 / 3°34'35"W

OS Eastings: 302603

OS Northings: 715773

OS Grid: NO026157

Mapcode National: GBR 1T.5DGZ

Mapcode Global: WH5PK.196K

Entry Name: Pit Alignment, 160m SE of Wellhill House

Scheduled Date: 31 October 2000

Last Amended: 19 October 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8918

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: pit alignment; Prehistoric ritual and funerary: pit alignment (r

Location: Dunning

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathallan

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument is a prehistoric pit alignment dating from the Mesolithic (c.8500BC - 3800BC) to the Neolithic (c.3800 – 2500BC). It comprises the remains of at least eleven pits and is interpreted as a land boundary or ritual monument.

The pits show as a line of dark roughly circular patches and several smaller circular features running north-south for 42m. Excavated pits were found to be between c. 2.2m to 3.5m across and between c.0.7m to 1.2m deep.

The scheduled area is irregular. 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 show in red in the accompanying map. The north side of the scheduled 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 or appreciation of the past as a pit alignment, identified through oblique aerial photography and dated from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.

b.  The monument retains structural and physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. As buried features the pits have provided material for radiocarbon dating and environmental analysis as well as artefacts. Detailed study can tell us about prehistoric land use; ritual activity; the creation of pottery and local environmental conditions during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.

d.  The monument is a particularly good example of a Mesolithic pit alignment recut in the Neolithic period, with at least 11 well defined pits of similar size running north-south, clearly defined on aerial photography, with pottery dating to the Early and Late Neolithic period.

e.  The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. For example, it has the potential to tell us about the development of ritual practices in prehistory and the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic and to the Bronze Age in Scotland.

f.  The monument makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the prehistoric landscape by providing some of the first evidence for land-use and ritual activity in the area. In particular, it could tell us about the choice of location for such activities and how this relates to wider land use, the Mesolithic and Neolithic ritual landscape and settlement patterns.

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)

The monument is a prehistoric pit alignment recorded as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs and survives as buried deposits below the ploughsoil. It dates from the Mesolithic period (c.8500BC - 3800BC) to Neolithic period (c.3800BC - 2500BC) and comprises 11 pits and smaller circular features orientated north-south. The monument was partially excavated in 2014 as part of the Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot (SERF project). Some of the pits were found to be between c. 2.2m to 3.5m across and between c.0.7m to 1.2m deep (Wright 2015).

Pit alignments can be the remains of quarrying; land boundaries; post holes for timber structures or ritual activity. Pit alignments can range in date from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age (c.700BC - AD500). They can also have multiple phases of activity. 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).   

Archaeological investigation of the Wellhill pit alignment identified pottery dating to the Early and Late Neolithic. Three of the pits had extensive charcoal deposits and Early Neolithic pottery. Other features were dated to the Late Neolithic; these included a post hole and three further pits. It is now believed that these pits were originally dug in the Mesolithic and re-cut in the Neolithic (Brophy and Noble, 2020). It has been suggested that it may have formed a local land boundary or ritual monument; though the two may not have been mutually exclusive in prehistory (Wright, 2014).

Comparable scheduled examples recorded as cropmarks include: Shielhill, pit alignments N of Shielhill Farm (scheduled monument SM6348); Nunraw Barns, pit alignment SE of (scheduled monument SM8777) and Garvald Mains, pit alignment SSE of (scheduled monument SM8801).

Detailed study of the monument can tell us about its construction, use, reuse and abandonment. In particular Wellhill has the potential to tell us about land use; ritual activity; the development of pottery and local environmental conditions during the Mesolithic and Neolithic.

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

The monument sits on a terrace with the Dunning Burn to the east and the Garvock Burn to the west. Both run north-south and are tributaries of the River Earn. Other prehistoric ritual and funerary monuments are located in this area. 150m to the north are the remains of Inverdunning House, Henge 140m S of (scheduled monument SM8922). This is a prehistoric ritual enclosure dating to the Late Neolithic. 405m to the west-northwest is a substantial ritual or ceremonial site, Leadketty, enclosures, ring-ditches, square barrow and pits NW of (scheduled monument SM9158) dating to the Neolithic, Bronze Age (c.2400BC-700BC) and Iron Age. A further nationally important prehistoric site lies 430m to the south-west; Leadketty Farm, Pit circle 460m ESE of (scheduled monument SM8912) which may be the remains of a ceremonial timber circle.

Wellhill contributes to the evidence for early settlement and ceremony in the Earn valley; an area that would continue to be a focus for such activity for the next 2800 years. There is the potential to study the monument in relation to these other sites. This could tell us about the transition periods between the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age in Scotland; the choice of location and development of ritual practices in prehistory and how they relate to wider land use and settlement patterns.

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



Historic Environment Scotland reference number

CANMORE ID 84910 (accessed on 27/04/2020).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MPK7184 (accessed on 27/04/2020).

Brophy, B. and Noble, G. (2020) Prehistoric Forteviot: Excavations of a Ceremonial Complex in Eastern Scotland SERF Monograph 1 Council for British Archaeology Research Reports 176 (York, Council for British Archaeology) [Available at: Archaeological Data Service ] (Accessed on 18/02/2020).

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 Data Structure Report: WH14.1, WH14.2 & WH14.3, 21 June – 11 July 2014. [Available at:] (Accessed on 18/02/2020).


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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