Ancient Monuments

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Ring ditch and pit group, 180m ENE of Wellhill House

A Scheduled Monument in Strathallan, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.3254 / 56°19'31"N

Longitude: -3.5761 / 3°34'33"W

OS Eastings: 302629

OS Northings: 715899

OS Grid: NO026158

Mapcode National: GBR 1T.5DKV

Mapcode Global: WH5PK.18CP

Entry Name: Ring ditch and pit group, 180m ENE of Wellhill House

Scheduled Date: 8 November 2000

Last Amended: 19 October 2021

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8920

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Dunning

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Strathallan

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument is a prehistoric ring ditch, group of pits and associated buried remains visible as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs. It comprises the remains of a partially excavated burial monument and agricultural pits, likely to date to the Neolithic period, c.3800 – 2500BC onwards. It is located on farmland at around 40m above sea level, to the south of the river Earn.   

The circular ring ditch feature is approximately 15m in diameter. The nine, roughly circular pits are between 0.5 and 2.4m in diameter and up to 0.8m in depth. These remains represent burial activity and agricultural practice, taking place in a wider area of prehistoric activity, focused along the river Earn.

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 shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area specifically excludes the above ground elements of all modern features, boundaries and transmission poles.

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 Bronze Age burial monument and adjacent group of Early Neolithic pits, representing prehistoric burial and agricultural practice.  

b.   The monument retains structural and physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding and  appreciation of the past - evidence of burial, monumental construction, agricultural processing, tools, land management and a significant assemblage of pottery, bone, charcoal and worked stone flakes among other artefacts, were recovered through archaeological investigations.

c.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In addition to the partial excavation that has taken place, detailed studies of the monument could tell us much about prehistoric land use; agricultural practice; the activities associated with burial and memorializing the dead as well as the material culture and environmental conditions facing the communities that built these features.  

d.   There is considerable archaeological interest here because of the presence of features and components from Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. These monuments and the artefacts and environmental information surviving within them are connected to a much wider distribution of similar monuments and features from both periods (and including earlier Mesolithic materials) in the wider landscapes around the river Earn. This is an important archaeological insight into prehistoric life in the area.

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 group of pits and the remains of an earthen burial structure, overlying a stone-lined burial or cist. Twenty-one features, interpreted as pits and arranged into small clusters, are visible in oblique aerial imagery. Fourteen of these pits (measuring between 0.5 and 2.4m in diameter and up to 0.8m in depth) were partially excavated and this revealed much about their date and function. The excavations indicate that the pits are likely to be Early Neolithic in origin - they contain a rich assemblage of dateable artefacts including considerable amounts of pottery and high-status stone fragments, charcoal and burnt bone. The pits are interpreted as relating to agricultural activity and linked with cultivation marks and possibly contemporary land boundaries. The remains of a stone-lined Bronze Age burial structure and associated features is also visible in remote imagery. The circular ring ditch feature is approximately 15m across and this is partly encircled by a palisade, possibly used to erect a fencing structure. Any earthen mound that sealed the inner burial or cist structure has disappeared, however, in addition to the ring ditch there remains surviving fragments of the cist as well as burnt and incised bone.  

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 features related to the creation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal or pollen within the pits and ring dich features. It has the potential to provide information about the function and date of the features (as demonstrated by their partial excavation) and their relationship to each other. Study of the monument's form and construction techniques compared with similar sites would enhance our understanding of the development sequence of this site.

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

The monument represents two phases of different activity – Early Neolithic agriculture and Bronze Age mortuary practice. The pits represent early attempts at systematic agriculture in Scotland – researchers suggest they are also an indicator for settlement and therefore important evidence for some of the earliest, settled communities. The Bronze Age burial monument is one of nearly 1300 such ring ditches known of in Scotland. Ring ditches are the most common archaeological cropmark in Britain and although a proportion are the remains of prehistoric funerary monuments, many are the remains of prehistoric round houses.

Together, the pits and the burial monument are part of a much larger complex of contemporary monuments from the Early Neolithic and Bronze Age, focused along the route of the river Earn and the fertile land either side of it. In addition to the partial excavation of these pits and the burial monument, other contemporary monuments in the area have also been investigated.

The evidence from excavations at Wellhill and other local sites points to a relatively dense area of domestic, funerary and ceremonial activity, taking place in the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods in this area. 180m to the south there is a contemporary pit alignment (Wellhill pit alignment, 200m ESE of, scheduled monument SM8918) while at Leadketty, some 500m to the west there is large complex of enclosures, ring ditches, burials and pits (Leadketty, enclosures, ring-ditches, square barrow and pits NW of, scheduled monument SM9158) representing evidence from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age. There is a Late Neolithic henge 50m to the north (Inverdunning House, Henge 140m S of, scheduled monument SM8922) and a complex of settlement and pits 200m to the northwest (Inverdunning house, settlement, house and pits 200m WSW of, scheduled monument SM9159).

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 monument's national importance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 355298 (accessed on 02/02/2021).

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference MPK19682, MPK 7185, (accessed on 03/02/2021).

Brophy K, & Noble G, 2020, Prehistoric Forteviot. Excavations of a ceremonial complex in eastern Scotland. CBA Research Report 176. CBA. York.

Wright D, 2016, Wellhill: SERF, Excavation in, Discovery Excav Scot, 16, 2015. Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire, England

Wright D, 2015a, SERF 2015. Wellhill Project Design. =Circulated Typescript Report. Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot Project. University of Glasgow

Wright D, 2015b, Wellhill 2015. Data Structure Report. =Circulated Typescript Report. Strathearn Environs and Royal Forteviot Project. University of Glasgow


HER/SMR Reference


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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