Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Rockhill, standing stone 225m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.386 / 58°23'9"N

Longitude: -3.1334 / 3°8'0"W

OS Eastings: 333826

OS Northings: 944731

OS Grid: ND338447

Mapcode National: GBR L6MK.HBV

Mapcode Global: WH6DT.VH22

Entry Name: Rockhill, standing stone 225m SW of

Scheduled Date: 17 May 1939

Last Amended: 27 February 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM451

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone

Location: Wick

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a standing stone dating to the late Neolithic or Bronze Age (between 3800 and 2500 BC)). The lichen-covered stone stands just over 2.5m high and is 1.1m broad by 0.1m thick. The stone narrows towards its top and leans slightly to the east. At its base are smaller slab-sided stones which related to the re-erection of the stone in the past. An associated slab lies on the ground to the immediate north.

The scheduled area is circular on plan, measuring 10m in diameter, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's use and re-use is likely to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural significance

The cultural significnce of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is a substantial slab-sided, sandstone standing stone surrounded at its base by up to seven smaller packing stones. The stone was recorded by the Ordnance Survey in 1871 when it was described as a flat upright stone 8 feet in height about 2 feet in breadth and about 4 inches thick. It was recorded again in 1911 when it was described as one slab protruding 1 foot 6 inches from the ground with another, 7 feet 4 inches long, set on top and held in place by smaller slabs driven into the ground. It was noted that the large slab with the base on which it was resting had been a single standing stone which had been broken and then re-erected. The disparity between the 1871 and 1911 descriptions suggests that the stone was broken and re-erected sometime between these two dates. Mapping evidence indicates that the stone was re-erected in the same location. The monument now resembles the form recorded in 1911 although it may have been re-erected again after that date, again in the same location.   

Despite the damage to the stone in the latter half of the 19th century and its subsequent re-erection, the stone appears substantially intact and remains an impressive monument in the landscape. Despite the re-erection of the standing stone, there is likely to be archaeological deposits surviving in the ground relating to its original construction and use. In some excavated examples, such as at Carlinwell, Angus (scheduled monument reference SM4315, Canmore ID 32362) inhumations or cremation burials have been found placed around standing stones and this includes skeletal material as well as urns and grave goods. Surviving environmental remains can help us understand more about the vegetation cover and land use at the time of its erection and then use.

Contextual Characteristics

Standing stones are a widespread class of monument across Scotland; Caithness has a local cluster of approximately 50 standing stones. This example sits close to the Caithness coastline and its focus appears to be towards the coast. It is approximately 3km to the northeast of a very dense area of broadly contemporary prehistoric monuments surrounding the Loch of Yarrows. The position of standing stones appears to have been deliberately chosen to take advantage of routeways, views and intervisibility with other monuments. There is potential to study this monument and its relationship to other such monuments in the landscape.

Associative Characteristics

There are no known associative characteristics which contribute to the site's cultural significance.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance as an example of an individual standing stone, a type of ceremonial monument dating to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. The stone retains it field characteristics and although the stone has been re-erected, perhaps more than once, it remains in its original location. The immediate area around the stone is therefore likely to preserve associated archaeological and environmental remains that can help us understand more about its function and role in pre-historic society. The proximity of this standing stone to broadly contemporary remains in the Loch of Yarrows area and the larger group of standing stones in Caithness adds considerably its significance. Overall, the monument can enhance our understanding of social and ceremonial activities in prehistoric times, and the beliefs of the people that built and used these sites.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 9020 (accessed on 1 November 2016).

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG 2186 (accessed on 1 November 2016).

RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness. London.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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