Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Ringing Stone, standing stone, 275m NNW of Johnston

A Scheduled Monument in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.3152 / 57°18'54"N

Longitude: -2.7004 / 2°42'1"W

OS Eastings: 357910

OS Northings: 825175

OS Grid: NJ579251

Mapcode National: GBR M9PD.3ND

Mapcode Global: WH7MD.HDBF

Entry Name: Ringing Stone, standing stone, 275m NNW of Johnston

Scheduled Date: 1 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11509

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone

Location: Leslie (Aberdeenshire)

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: West Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a standing stone with cupmarkings of prehistoric date, known as the Ringing Stone. It stands on a broad plateau situated between the Hill of Newleslie and the Hill of Johnston, in the NE corner of a cultivated field, at 225m above sea level.

The stone is an erect granite boulder measuring 2m high, 0.70m wide and 0.35m deep at its base. At 1.1m high, the SSW side narrows towards the NNE side of the monument to a thickness of around 0.10m. There are at least four cupmarks on the WNW face, the largest measuring up to 50mm in diameter. A single depression on the ESE face may be natural. Stone packing visibly supports the stone around its base.

The monument probably relates to ritual activity of Neolithic or Early Bronze-Age date. It has been suggested that the stone would have once been a 'flanker' in a recumbent stone circle. Historical oral evidence of a cairn from the tenants of Cotetown, who said that the cairn was destroyed to build Cotetown farm, may support this. However, it is also feasible that the stone was a single standing stone used to mark the burial cairn of a respected person or as a boundary marker or meeting place. The purpose of prehistoric cupmarkings is still unclear, however many suggest that cupmarkings are evidence of a place with ritual significance. There are many suggestions as to the meanings of cupmarkings from symbols of worship, astronomical connections to merely decorative art.

The area proposed for scheduling is circular on plan, to include the standing stone and an area around in which evidence for its construction and use may be expected to be found, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument has considerable potential to enhance understanding of late Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual monuments and practices. The monument is physical evidence of prehistoric people using both natural objects and man-made carvings in order to make a visual impact on the landscape. It is also possibly the only visible element of a larger prehistoric funerary site. While the repertoire of carved designs in Aberdeenshire is disappointing in comparison to other parts of Scotland, these motifs have an important correlation with recumbent stone circles and other stone settings.

Contextual characteristics: The monument, as a single monolith, is representative of one type of site within a larger group of Neolithic/Bronze Age ritual sites, such as standing stones, stone circles and recumbent stone circles, in western Aberdeenshire. We can only fully understand these types of monument in their original, wider landscape setting. Therefore, the monument's location enhances its value, as well as our understanding of the ritual prehistoric landscape in which it resides.

Associative characteristics: This monument, named the 'Ringing Stone' on historical maps, has been visible in the landscape for thousands of years where it continues to make the visual impact its creators intended.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to our understanding of prehistoric ritual practices. It also contributes to today's landscape and is likely to help us to understand more about the Neolithic/Bronze Age landscape that it would have been a part of.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record this monument as NJ52NE 7l.


RCAHMS, NJ52NE 7, The Ringing Stone (East Side), AB2959.

RCAHMS, NJ52NE 7, The Ringing Stone (West Side), AB2960.


Coles F R 1902, 'Report on stone circles in Aberdeenshire (Inverurie, Eastern Parishes, and Insch Districts), with measured plans and drawings, obtained under the Gunning Fellowship', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 36, 552-3.

Ritchie J 1918, 'Cup-marks on the stone circles and standing-stones of Aberdeenshire and part of Banffshire', PROC SOC ANTIQ SCOT 52, 110-111.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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