Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Field Visit

Date 27 October 1998 - 30 October 1998

Event ID 635350

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


The visitor today encounters a circle measuring 17m in diameter, with eleven of its original complement of thirteen stones upright and an imposing recumbent setting on the SW (1–3); the gaps for the missing orthostats are on the WNW (12) and NW (13) respectively. All three stones of the recumbent setting have been re-erected, the recumbent (2) having fallen backwards and the two flankers forwards, only for the western (1) to be displaced even further down the slope (see below). The recumbent, which measures 3.2m in length by 1m in breadth and up to 1.15m in height, is a roughly trapezoidal block containing inclusions of quartz. It bears two cupmarks, one on its relatively even summit and the other on its rear, where there is also a natural hollow that Bradley has likened to a bronze flat axe (2005, 32, fig 49). Three other stones have also been re-erected (5, 8 & 9), of which that on the SE (5) was recovered from the floor of the quarry and found to bear a cupmark. With the exception of this stone, which is light grey in colour, all of the others are pale red, and are arranged so that they reduce in height from the two flankers on the SW round to the shortest stone on the NNE (10), albeit that the latter appears to have been decapitated. In a similar fashion, the gaps between the stones also close up towards the NE. The orthostats stand on a stony platform that measures a maximum of 24m from N to S by up to 0.6m in height and encircles a polygonal cairn measuring up to 15m in diameter over a well-defined kerb of granite blocks and slabs; on the SW the kerb turns outwards to meet the back of the recumbent setting. Cupmarks can be seen on two of the kerbstones, one on the ESE, bearing a single cup on its upper surface, and the other on the WSW, with two on its outer face.

During the excavations, the monument was completely stripped, revealing that it was far better preserved than was previously thought. Rather than complete excavation, however, Bradley’s objectives were limited to establishing its structural history and chronology, the following account of which is taken from the published report (Bradley 2005). The first use of the hilltop was for pyres, which led to the build up on the old ground surface of a low mound roughly 3m in diameter made up of burnt soil, charcoal and fragments of cremated human bones. This mound was subsequently incorporated into the polygonal cairn, which was constructed to form a relatively level platform on the hilltop. In preparation for the construction of this cairn, a series of steps had been cut into the slope on the SW and layers of turf and soil were deposited behind low banks of rubble, apparently to form a firmer foundation where the margin of the cairn extended out onto the slope. The perimeter of the cairn was revetted with a continuous stone kerb, which was itself buttressed externally by an outer rubble platform. The kerb, which was subtly graded to increase in height towards the SW, had been heavily robbed and of only twenty-five kerbstones that remained, nineteen were still in place. Several arcs of boulders observed in the surface of cairn, elements of which had been identified previously as kerbstones of an inner court (below), proved to be superficial, but there were also up to thirteen radial lines, and at least seven of these proved to be crudely built divisions going down through the cairn material and thus relating to its construction. The outer platform encircled the whole cairn, giving it a tiered profile and forming a substantial feature on the SW. Here the ground is steepest and its clearly defined outer edge included a few blocks of quartz; on the NE, opposite the position eventually occupied by the recumbent, six sherds of Beaker pottery were found beneath the outer platform at the foot of the kerb, while radiocarbon dates from a pit cut into one of the terraces beneath the cairn on the SW produced a series of radiocarbon dates centred on the 25th century BC. The stones of the circle were erected in shallow sockets cut into the outer platform, those of the two flankers being the deepest, while the recumbent had been chocked in position in a shallow hollow between them. Probably at the same time, the kerb of the cairn was reconfigured to turn outwards to meet the back of the recumbent setting, and a straight run of large kerbstones to its rear was removed; the trench from which they were extracted was backfilled with rubble, contrasting with the soil fill where kerbstones were robbed more recently. Once the circle was in place, there is little evidence of any further activity until about 1000 BC, at which date there was a further episode of burning at the centre of the cairn, again associated with cremated bone fragments. More recently still, in the 16th or 17th century AD, a shallow pit was dug into the centre of the cairn. As well as the sherds of Beaker pottery, finds from the excavations included sherds of Late Bronze Age plainware, a possible fragment of daub, quartz, a rock crystal, a number of worked stones (including six flint blades) and some burnt animal bones.

Visited by RCAHMS (ATW and IGP) 27-30 October 1998

People and Organisations