Ancient Monuments

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Little Hartfell, stone circle 1010m NNW of Whitcastles Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Annandale North, Dumfries and Galloway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.1807 / 55°10'50"N

Longitude: -3.2203 / 3°13'12"W

OS Eastings: 322389

OS Northings: 588056

OS Grid: NY223880

Mapcode National: GBR 58YJ.MP

Mapcode Global: WH6XG.H1RR

Entry Name: Little Hartfell, stone circle 1010m NNW of Whitcastles Cottage

Scheduled Date: 4 August 1937

Last Amended: 28 January 2010

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM636

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone circle or ring

Location: Hutton and Corrie

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Annandale North

Traditional County: Dumfriesshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a stone circle likely to date to the Neolithic/Bronze Age. It survives as a circular arrangement of nine stone boulders (monoliths) and associated buried deposits. The stone circle is located next to a conifer woodland access track in open, rough ground on the W side of a saddle formed by Whitcastles Hill and Hartfell at approximately 260m above sea level. The monument was first scheduled in 1937, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The nine recumbent stone boulders, which are likely to have originally stood upright, define a flattened circular space measuring approximately 55m by 41m.

The area to be scheduled is a clipped circle on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling extends up to but does not include the mapped metalled track and its associated drainage ditch.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The stone circle is a well-preserved example despite the impact of modern forestry ploughing and natural regeneration over part of the site. Nine individual boulders are present and they enclose a relatively large, near-circular space. The prostrate form of the boulders is relatively uncommon for a stone circle of this size. The area is likely to contain important artefactual and ecofactual remains relating to the site's construction, use and the wider environment at that time.

Contextual characteristics

This is a large, unusually-shaped example of its class and it reflects a long tradition of ceremony and ritual activity (which researchers believe included celestial observation) from the Neolithic through to the Bronze Age. It could represent the culmination of a number of building phases but researchers believe that because the monoliths are lying flat it may represent a very rare, unfinished example. There are widespread views to the west of the monument but its intended visibility (which appears to be a factor in the location of other examples) is obscured by modern forestry. The class of well over a hundred examples of stone circles are found in groups distributed across Scotland (one such grouping exists in the south-west) and researchers have suggested that stone circles in the south-west belong to a western seaboard tradition that places greater significance on the routeways of the Irish Sea and associated coastlines of the NW British Isles. The monument's proximity to other broadly contemporary monuments reinforces our interest in its position and setting.

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 the ceremonial practices of Neolithic and Bronze-Age communities in SW Scotland. Its relatively good preservation, interesting form and known period of use enhance this potential. The loss of this example would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand prehistoric ritual life in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NY28NW 4. Dumfries and Galloway Council Sites and Monuments Record records the site as MDG 7508.

References:

RCAHMS 1920, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland Seventh Report with Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Dumfries, HMSO: Edinburgh.

RCAHMS 1997, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: Eastern Dumfriesshire: An Archaeological Landscape, Edinburgh, The Stationery Office.

Thom A 1967, Megalithic sites in Britain. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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