Ancient Monuments

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Gallows Hill Cairn, 460m SSE of Mains of Lesmoir

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

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Latitude: 57.337 / 57°20'13"N

Longitude: -2.8782 / 2°52'41"W

OS Eastings: 347229

OS Northings: 827727

OS Grid: NJ472277

Mapcode National: GBR M98B.668

Mapcode Global: WH7M3.RVL8

Entry Name: Gallows Hill Cairn, 460m SSE of Mains of Lesmoir

Scheduled Date: 1 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11576

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 burial mound that lies in a stony, semi-improved pasture on the NE flank of The Peirk, 460m SSE of Mains of Lesmoir.

The mound is made of earth and stone, and measures 20 m in diameter and approximately 2m in height. The size, regular shape and location within the landscape indicate that it is a burial barrow, dating to the Bronze Age. The placename suggests later use as the site of a gallows.

The area to be scheduled is circular in plan, centred on the cairn, to include the barrow and an area of ground around within which evidence for its construction and use can be expected to survive, 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: While there is some rabbit and quarry damage around the edges, the centre of the cairn is intact and does not appear to have been disturbed. It is likely, therefore, that the burial or burials it contains 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, and are usually the burial place of one individual. They often cover a stone cist where people placed the body, the knees drawn up to the chin. A beaker and sometimes objects of flint, fine stone, jet or amber would accompany the body. Some mounds they covered only with a small mound of upcast soil, but they sealed others by stone cairns or turf barrows, often built in conspicuous, skyline locations.

Associative characteristics: Tradition says that people erected the mound as a place to execute criminals. Despite the locally known name and tradition, the size and regular shape suggest that it was a burial cairn subsequently utilised as a gallows mound.

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 the monument as NJ42NE24, cairn; Aberdeenshire SMR as NJ42NE0023.


ORDNANCE SURVEY NAME BOOK (COUNTY) Original Name Books of the Ordnance Survey Book No. 78, 90.

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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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