Ancient Monuments

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Bell Knowe, cairn, Rhynie

A Scheduled Monument in Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.3267 / 57°19'36"N

Longitude: -2.8354 / 2°50'7"W

OS Eastings: 349794

OS Northings: 826549

OS Grid: NJ497265

Mapcode National: GBR M9CC.1V6

Mapcode Global: WH7MB.F31L

Entry Name: Bell Knowe, cairn, Rhynie

Scheduled Date: 1 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11575

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow; Secular: mound (unallocated to other category)

Location: Rhynie

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a mound of rounded boulders and pebbles set in a matrix of sandy soil. It lies on the crest of an E-facing slope in pasture, overlooking the valley of the Water of Bogie.

The mound measures 17m in diameter and 2m in height. The size, regular shape and location within the landscape indicate that it is a burial cairn, dating to the Bronze Age.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the cairn and an area around it in which evidence for its construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area excludes the fence on its W and S edges, to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: While there is rabbit damage around the edges of the cairn, the centre of the cairn is intact and does not appear to have been disturbed. It is likely, therefore, that the burial or burials are undisturbed. In addition, it is very probable that the cairn preserves the remains of the old land surface beneath it, and possible evidence for agricultural practices predating the cairn.

Contextual characteristics: In Aberdeenshire round cairns were mostly built during the early part of the Bronze Age, in the second millennium BC. They are usually the burial place of one individual and often cover a stone cist into which the body was placed, the knees drawn up to the chin and often accompanied by a beaker and sometimes by objects of flint, fine stone, jet or amber. A small mound of upcast soil covered some, but stone cairns or turf barrows sealed others. Characteristically, prehistoric people sited these in conspicuous, skyline locations.

Associative characteristics: The site is so-called because the church bell (dated 1620) was hung in a wooden frame on it before 1823 so that it might be better heard.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular of the burial practices of the Bronze Age in Aberdeenshire and the cultural links between Aberdeenshire and other areas of Scotland in this period of prehistory.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this monument as NJ42NE 31.


Eeles F C and Clouston R W M 1960, 'The church and other bells of Aberdeenshire. Part II', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 91, 1957-8, 102-3.

ORDNANCE SURVEY NAME BOOK (COUNTY) Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey Book No. 78, 155.

Shepherd I A G 1986, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE, Edinburgh, 141-143.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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