Ancient Monuments

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Balhomais stone circle and barrow, 20m NNW of junction at B846 and Balhomais Farm entrance

A Scheduled Monument in Highland, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.6205 / 56°37'13"N

Longitude: -3.9183 / 3°55'5"W

OS Eastings: 282386

OS Northings: 749274

OS Grid: NN823492

Mapcode National: GBR JCP6.XJ8

Mapcode Global: WH4LP.SVBH

Entry Name: Balhomais stone circle and barrow, 20m NNW of junction at B846 and Balhomais Farm entrance

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1930

Last Amended: 10 November 2020

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM1499

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: barrow

Location: Dull

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Highland

Traditional County: Perthshire


The monument comprises the remains of a barrow and stone circle, visible as an earth and stone mound, with several large stones placed around the perimeter of the barrow, and likely to date to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The monument is at the corner of a pasture field at around 90m above sea level, on the northern edge of the floodplain of the River Tay.

The barrow mound is up to 14m in diameter and survives to a height of 1.5m, while the diameter of the stone circle appears to be around 25m, based on the positions of the five surviving stones. The site has been truncated on the south and east by the B846 and an unmarked road respectively. Five stones of the stone circle remain in situ, including one incorporated into a field boundary on the south of the site, with another two large boulders that may have previously been part of the circle.

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 scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of all post and wire fences within the scheduled area, to allow for their maintenance.

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, or has the potential to do so, in particular our understanding of ritual and funerary monuments and practices in prehistory.

b.   The monument retains structural, architectural, decorative or other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In particular, there is potential for the preservation of buried features and deposits, including further structural remains and human burial, associated grave goods and environmental or palaeobotanical remains.

c.   The monument is a rare example of an upstanding earthwork burial mound with a surrounding stone circle. It is particularly rare for earthwork mounds of this type to survive in arable farming regions.

d.   The monument is a particularly good example of a multi-phase prehistoric monument within this area and is therefore an important representative of this monument type.

e.   The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding or appreciation of the past, in particular, it holds the potential to enhance our understanding of prehistoric ritual and funerary practices within Scotland, and there is high potential for archaeological evidence to survive in and around the monument.

f.   The monument makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and our understanding of the historic landscape by its prominence within the farmland along this stretch of the River Tay valley.

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 an upstanding and relatively well-preserved prehistoric monument comprising a barrow and stone circle with a substantial earthen mound and up to seven surviving stones from the circle. Although both the barrow and the stone circle have been partially disturbed, they remain a prominent and visible feature in the landscape.

Archaeological evidence from other similar sites has generally indicated multiple phases of construction and use on sites like this, as ritual systems and monuments changed over time, but it is unclear from the available evidence on the precise development sequence of this monument. It is likely to date from the Neolithic period around 4000 – 2500 BC and/or the Bronze Age around 2500 – 800 BC. Archaeological evidence within the monument itself would provide more accurate information on the type and date of construction of the barrow and the stone circle, and the order in which they were created.

Given the good level of preservation of the barrow and stone circle, there is a high potential for the survival of human remains, associated grave goods and environmental or palaeobotanical remains. Such archaeological deposits can help us to better understand beliefs surrounding death and burial in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, as well as funerary rites and practices, trade and contacts, social organisation and the climate and local vegetation at the time of construction. These deposits can help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemoration of the dead at specific times in prehistory. There is also good potential for the survival of secondary or 'satellite' burials and related archaeological evidence for funerary pyres or other funerary activity in the area surrounding the barrow. The monument therefore has the potential to enhance our understanding of the nature and development of prehistoric monumentality and burial, the nature of belief systems, ceremonial and burial practices.

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

The monument is part of several contemporary Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments found along the River Tay, and it is also comparable with other sites further afield within Scotland. It is, however, rarer to find both prehistoric site types combined in one location than as separate entities. Other examples where both a burial mound or cairn and a stone circle are found together in a similar form include the complex at Clava (scheduled monument No. 90074) and the site at Druid Temple Farm (scheduled monument No. 2417), both near Inverness, and the site at Huly Hill (scheduled monument No. 1160) near Edinburgh. The individual elements of the site, in the form of a burial mound (of earth and/or stone) or a stone circle are far more common within Scotland than the combined form seen at Balhomais. Prominent examples of barrows and cairns near Balhomais include Balenduin (scheduled monument No. 4318) and Balnaguard (scheduled monument No. 2232), an excavated example at Pitnacree (Canmore ID 26384), and cropmarks evidence of barrows at Camserney (Canmore ID 25661) and Drumdewan (Canmore ID 25666). Other examples of stone circles nearby include Croftmoraig (scheduled monument No. 5024), Dull (scheduled monument No. 1539), Carse Farm scheduled monument No. 1511) and Meikle Findowie (scheduled monument No. 1566).

The barrow and stone circle near Balhomais are positioned on the northern edge of the River Tay floodplain, around 600m north of the river itself, and even today the monument is a relatively prominent feature in the landscape. It occupies an open position and would have had extensive views of the landscape across and along this stretch of the valley of the River Tay. Immediately north of the cairn the land begins sloping quite noticeably up from the floodplain of the river towards the top of Cnoc Phaurl, reducing the views on this direction. Monuments such as that near Balhomais are one of our main sources of information about the nature of Scotland's prehistoric society and landscape.  These monuments can give important insights into the prehistoric landscape and add to our understanding of social organisation, land division and land-use.

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 this site's cultural significance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 25662 (accessed on 17/07/2020).

Perth and Kinross HER Reference MPK1046 (accessed on 17/07/2020).

MacSween, A. and Sharp, M. (1989). Prehistoric Scotland. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.

Bradley, R., 2019. The Prehistory of Britain And Ireland. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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