Ancient Monuments

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Mithergarth, ring-ditch houses 280m SSE of

A Scheduled Monument in West Garioch, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.279 / 57°16'44"N

Longitude: -2.499 / 2°29'56"W

OS Eastings: 370011

OS Northings: 821043

OS Grid: NJ700210

Mapcode National: GBR X2.KY13

Mapcode Global: WH8NT.L96N

Entry Name: Mithergarth, ring-ditch houses 280m SSE of

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM12018

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: hut circle, roundhouse

Location: Chapel Of Garioch

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: West Garioch

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises a group of four ring-ditch houses of prehistoric date. The ring-ditches (near circular ditched enclosures) are visible as upstanding features in a mature conifer plantation on a NE-facing terrace on the E flank of Bennachie. The houses are likely to date from the Late Bronze Age or Iron Age, the first or second millennium BC.

The NW house measures about 17m in diameter. Its wall is defined by a circular stony bank measuring up to 4m in thickness and 0.7m in internal height. A shallow ditch measuring about 2.7m wide runs around the inside edge of the bank. The entrance, marked by a gap in the bank, is on the east. Approximately 30m to the south lies the SW house in the group. It is oval in shape and measures about 16m in diameter. The wall is defined by a circular stony bank measuring about 3m in thickness and up to 1m in internal height. The entrance, marked by a gap in the bank, is on the east.

The NE house lies about 40m to the ENE of the first. It is scooped into the hillside and measures about 13m in diameter. Its stony bank is most clearly visible on the downslope E side, where it stands up to about 0.3m in height and about 2m wide. On the W upslope side, the edge of the house is defined by a shallow scoop into the slope. Its entrance is on the north-east. The last house lies on the SE edge of the group, about 50m to the south-east of the first. It measures about 15m in diameter and is scooped into the hillside. Its stony bank is best defined on the east and north, where is stands to a height of about 0.4m above the interior of the house. On the west and south, a shallow scoop into the slope defines the edge of the house.

The area to be scheduled is sub-rectangular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which evidence relating to their construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument consists of a group of four well-preserved later prehistoric ring-ditch houses. The upland location of the hut circles and relatively low impact landuse since their construction suggests that deposits, materials and features relating to the houses' construction and use, and evidence for the prehistoric environment, are likely to survive below the surface. It is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in place. The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of later prehistoric roundhouses and the daily lives of the people who occupied them.

Contextual characteristics

The monument is a good representative of what may have once been a numerous class. The rarity of such sites in the area may be due to poor survival as a result of intensive agricultural practices since the later prehistoric period. As a group of ring-ditches, the monument has the potential to provide information on later prehistoric settlement patterns. The monument is one of a number of prehistoric settlement sites, both domestic and funerary, on this flank of Bennachie, further enhancing the value of the monument. Comparison of local architectural features in this area with those of other prehistoric roundhouses in Scotland may enhance our understanding of regional variation in later prehistoric settlement.

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 later prehistoric period. This potential is enhanced by the relatively good preservation and its group value. Loss or damage of the monument would affect our ability to understand the development of later prehistoric architecture, society, economy in Scotland in general and the prehistory of central Strathdon in particular.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NJ72SW205; Aberdeenshire SMR as NJ62SE0022.


RCAHMS [Draft], IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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