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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 824984

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NJ40SE 1 4865 0349.

(NJ 4865 0349) Stone Circle (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map, Aberdeenshire, 2nd ed., (1902)

The Tomnaverie recumbent stone circle is situated on the crest of a hill beside a disused quarry.

It consists of an incomplete outermost ring, 56ft (17m) in diameter, comprising the recumbent stone, its two flankers (fallen), five erect stones and one fallen stone, a middle setting of stones which, without excavation, is impossible to explain, and an innermost setting of smallish stones, 28ft (8.5m) in diameter.

The recumbent stone is situated more towards the east than is usual and has probably been moved forward about two feet. A few years ago one of the standing stones near the edge of the quarry was undermined, fell, and has disappeared.

F R Coles 1905; R W Feachem 1963; J Ritchie 1917.

The outermost circle remains as described except that the west flanker appears to have been moved outside the circle. A kerb of stones c. 14.0m in diameter appears to have been joined to the two flankers and may be the middle setting referred to above, while the innermost setting is now merely a rickle of stones with slight traces of what may be the inner kerb of a ring cairn.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RL) 15 October 1968.

This recumbent stone circle is situated in an area of grassland and heather on the crest of a hill. The remains of the (incomplete) outer ring (which has measured about 17m in diameter) comprise the recumbent stone itself, two (fallen) flankers, five erect stones and a fallen stone; the kerb measures about 14m in diameter and is joined to the two flankers. The inner setting has been reduced to a rickle of stones (measuring 8.5m in diameter) with slight traces of what may be the inner kerb of a ring-cairn.

Information from Aberdeenshire Archaeological Service, June 1997 (visited 17 May 1992).

NMRS, MS/712/19.

NJ 486 034 This was the first of two seasons of excavation at a guardianship monument. The work had three main aims: to establish the state of this damaged stone circle and to formulate plans for its interpretation and display; to establish the sequence of the different structural elements on the site; and to obtain material for radiocarbon dating.

The monument proved to be unexpectedly well preserved, despite some damage from an adjacent quarry which continued to operate into the 1920s. The site had three structural elements: a central ring-cairn, with a massive rubble core and a series of fallen kerbstones; a circle of monoliths, including a recumbent stone and two flankers which had been taken down and moved away from the quarry edge; and an outer platform of rubble which created a level base for the entire monument. It seems as if all these elements were constructed together and that the ring-cairn was built at the same time as the recumbent stone circle and the outer platform. In fact, that platform supported the monoliths of the stone circle, provided the foundation for the recumbent and buttressed the outer kerb of the ring-cairn. Small quantities of cremated bone were observed in the central area which has yet to be excavated, and quantities of charcoal were recovered from the old land surface beneath the original position of the recumbent stone. The only artefacts contemporary with the recumbent stone circle were pieces of worked flint and quartz which cannot be dated accurately.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

R Bradley 1999

NJ 486 034 A walkover survey was undertaken in the area around Tomnaverie stone circle (NMRS NJ40SE 1) in advance of proposals to improve access to the site. Several new sites were located, including an old road, agricultural enclosures and field banks. In the middle of one embanked enclosure was a mound, possibly a cairn or a kiln. A number of possible cup marks are located on boulders and bedrock close to the stone circle.

A report will be lodged with the NMRS.

D Alexander 1999

NJ 486 034 This was the second and final season of excavation of the Guardianship monument (DES 1999, 7-8). The work had three main aims: to establish the condition of this badly damaged stone circle; to work out the sequence of construction on the site; and to obtain dating evidence. Following the excavation the fallen or displaced stones were re-erected in their original sockets.

The earliest feature on the site was a cremation pyre on the summit of a low hill. This was identified by a spread of small fragments of cremated bone from an area of enhanced magnetic susceptibility. This was encapsulated within a polygonal cairn, open at the centre and defined by a massive kerb of slabs and glacial boulders. That kerb had been revetted on the outside by a bank of rubble which sealed a few sherds of Beaker pottery. At a number of points the interior of the cairn was linked to the outer kerb by radial divisions which seem to be a primary feature of the monument.

In a subsequent phase the existing cairn was enclosed by a recumbent stone circle. The monoliths were set in sockets cutting through elements of the earlier monument, and the recumbent stone had originally rested on top of the bank of rubble supporting the exterior of the cairn. When this happened, one section of kerbstones was demolished and the cairn was extended to join the flankers on either side of the recumbent stone.

In a later period, probably during the first millennium BC, a pit was dug in the exact centre of the monument to receive a cremation burial.

Survey of the uncleared areas of the hill identified the positions of 29 cup-marked stones. Fieldwalking on the ploughed land in the Howe of Cromar (a total of 86 fields) located the positions of six concentrations of lithic artefacts of approximately the same date as the stone circle. It seems as if the monument had been located on the outer edge of the settled landscape.

R Bradley 2000

NJ 486 034 A watching brief was maintained in November 2001 during the excavation of a new access path to Tomnaverie stone circle. The only major site affected was the track running parallel to the modern road - this was found to be simply terraced into the hillslope, and unsurfaced.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: HS

G Ewart and D Murray 2002

NJ 4866 0347 A watching brief was maintained in April 2003 while three small hummocks on the S side of the quarry bordering the stone circle were removed and the soil used as top dressing for the quarry infill. The backfilling of the quarry is part of a wider programme of works to improve the amenity of the stone circle. It was found that the hummocks accumulated when soil was stripped for the beginning of quarrying in the early 20th century. No archaeological features or finds were evident.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Tomnaverie Stone Circle Trust.

J C Murray 2003

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