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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 667139

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NJ51NE 2 5965 1939.

(NJ 5965 1939) Stone Circle (NR) (Remains of).

OS 6" map, Aberdeenshire, 2nd ed., (1901)

At Old Keig a recumbent stone circle situated on a slight crest on a ridge, and within a narrow windbelt. A recumbent stone, 16ft long on top, 6ft thick, 6 3/4ft high, two flankers, the westerly 5 1/4ft above the turf, the easterly 9 1/2ft, and a third orthostat, 9 1/2ft high, to the east, survive. Five other earth fast stones in the vicinity look as if they have been disturbed.

The recumbent stone and pillars stand in a more or less circular bank, composed of earth and stone, which merges into the dykes bounding the windbelt on either side and crosses the belt on the north. Here two large blocks projecting above the turf are loose, and two others lie prostrate outside the bank.

Excavations by Childe in 1932-33 revealed a bank of large stones, just under the turf in front of the recumbent and E flanker, extending for 7 ft towards the centre of the circle. The remains of an eccentrically placed ring cairn, which had been disturbed by operations in 1692, were uncovered. They comprised a kerb of large stones 15ins to 24ins, long forming a very rough semi-circle about 30 feet diameter, containing a disorderly collection of boulders. As a result 'flat-rimmed' pottery found during the excavations Childe's dated the monument to the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age but this view was challenged by Kilbride-Jones (1935) who regarded the pottery as secondary, and the very few beaker sherds, including one with burning-bone comb impressions, as presumably primary.

Finds, presented to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS), included beaker potsherds, charcoal, minute fragments of cremated human bones and portions of three or more large flat-rimmed urns.

V G Childe 1933; 1934; H E Kilbride-Jones 1935; R J C Atkinson 1962; A S Henshall 1963.

Recumbent stone, easterly orthostat and bank remains as described. No trace of inner ring cairn or of stones in front of recumbent stone.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RL) 12 September 1968.

At once communal and anonymous, the essentially neolithic nature of the recumbent stone circle is perhaps nowhere better seen than at Old Keig where the circle, 20m in diameter, is now represented by a gigantic recumbent of sillimanite gneiss, two flankers and one other stone, standing on a low bank.

The circle is located on a very slight crest on rising ground with distant, sometimes magical, views over the Howe of Alford. The site was probably levelled and the enormous recumbent, which weighs 53 tons and is the largest known (4.9m by 2.1m by 2.0m) dragged from somewhere in the Don valley about 10km away. The last 1km would have been uphill at a gradient of 1:14, requiring well over 100 people.

Prior to the building of the eccentrically-placed ring cairn, a small timber structure (similar to that at Loanhead of Daviot, NJ72NW 1) may have stood for a short time in the central area.

I A G Shepherd 1986.

This monument is situated in a grassy shelterbelt on the crest of a ridge at an altitude of 210m OD. The ground falls away on all sides and there is an open aspect to the S. The massive recumbent stone and flankers are its most impressive feature, there being little trace of any internal features. It has been tidied up since 1975 (the hole under the recumbent being filled with loose stones) and there are four small trees in the bank.

(GRC/AAS air photograph: AAS/86/05/S7/4. GRC/AAS ground photography also cited).

NMRS, MS/712/50, visited 20 May 1978.

Scheduled as Old Keig, stone circle.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 2 August 2001.

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