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Marionburgh

Ring Cairn (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name Marionburgh

Classification Ring Cairn (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Ballindalloch

Canmore ID 16006

Site Number NJ13NE 3

NGR NJ 18308 36407

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/16006

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Inveravon
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Banffshire

Accessing Scotland's Past Project

The overgrown remains of a Clava-type cairn are situated in a plantation about 300m west of the River Avon. The circular cairn, which measures about 14m in overall diameter, comprises a stony bank, which would once have been revetted on both sides by kerbs of boulders, with an open court at the centre. Originally, a circle of standing stones surrounded the cairn but only five can now be seen.

Until recently cairns of this type, which are found around Inverness and in Moray, were thought to be of Neolithic date, but excavations in the late twentieth century have shown them to belong to the Early Bronze Age.

Text prepared by RCAHMS as part of the Accessing Scotland's Past project

Archaeology Notes

NJ13NE 3 18308 36407

(NJ 1832 3640) Stone Circle (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6" map, Banffshire, 2nd ed., (1905)

Probably the remains of a passage-grave or ring-cairn (Clava type). It comprises five standing stones belonging to a circle of monoliths. In the centre is a ring of cairn material up to 2ft high with a possible kerbstone. About 30ft SE of the enclosure are two contiguous stones. These may perhaps be part of another monument.

F R Coles 1907; A S Henshall 1963.

A Clava-type cairn generally as described and illustrated, now planted with trees and over-grown with broom. Though only one kerbstone remains, and it is now only 0.6m high, the cairn can be traced, and apparently measured about 14.0m in diameter, with a central depression c.5.0m in diameter. The size of this depression, the lack of the large kerbstones, and any depression suggesting a passage, and the symmetric appearance of the remains, suggest a ring cairn rather than a heavily robbed passage grave. The two contiguous stones to the SE could possibly be kerbstones of another Clava-type cairn. A large number of rubble stones have been cleared from this area and placed at the edge of the field, but nothing else remains to aid identification.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB), 12 July 1967.

Activities

Publication Account (1986)

Standing at 190 m OD on a terrace above the River Avon, near its confluence with the Spey, are five stones of a circle, 23.9 m in diameter, of which the stone in the south-west is a lofty 2.74 m tall. Within is a ring cairn comprising a circular bank of small stones, about 14 m in diameter with a central space 5 m in diameter.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian’, (1986).

Publication Account (1996)

Sta nding at 190m OD on a terrace above the River Avon, near its confluence with the Spey, are five stones of a circle, 23. m in diameter, of which the stone in the south-west is a lofty 2.74m tall. Within is a ring cairn comprising a circular bank of small stones, about 14m in diameter with a central space 5m in diameter.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Aberdeen and North-East Scotland’, (1996).

Publication Account (2004)

A heavily robbed cairn surrounded by a ring of standing stones is situated in a small overgrown plantation enclosure immediately south of the drive that approaches Ballindalloch Home Farm from the road junction opposite Marionburgh. The cairn measures 14m in overall diameter and has been reduced to a bank of rubble about 4.5m in thickness and 0.6m in height, so much so that the open hollow 5m across at its centre is generally thought to represent an internal court or the chamber of a Clava passage grave (Henshall 1963, 391; Shepherd 1986a, 160). No inner kerbstones are visible and Audrey Henshall drew attention to only one possible outer kerbstone, apparently situated on the west of the cairn though it does not appear upon her plan of 1957 (1963, 391). There were probably eleven orthostats in the surrounding ring, set along the leading edge of a low concentric platform and measuring about 23m in overall diameter; of the eleven, five remain upright and four are fallen. Although the smallest is currently on the south-east and is only 0.7m high, the ring was probably graded in height, reducing from a tall stone 2.7m high on the south-west round to one only 1m high incorporated into the dyke on the north-east. Most of the damage here probably occurred before the end of the 18th century (Stat Acct, xiii, 1794, 42–3) and in 1869 the OS surveyors noted only ‘three stones standing and three or four lying on the ground half buried in the soil’ (Name Book, Banffshire, No. 17, p 51). Coles’ plan of 1906, however, shows all the stones that are visible today, though he struggled in the undergrowth to plot them (1907a, 151–4, fig 17). Coles sensed that the interior was very stony, but it was left to Henshall to adapt his plan to show the internal cairn. Her survey, and a description prepared in 1967 by Keith Blood of the OS, which concluded that it was most likely to be a ring-cairn, have been the main sources of subsequent commentaries. Thus, Burl has listed Marionburgh as a probable ring-cairn (1976a, 355, Ban 7; 2000, 424, Ban 8), but Barnatt has speculated that the absence of a massive internal kerb might suggest that it is the remains of a recumbent stone circle (1989, 264, no. 5:31). This is not a sound basis for such a suggestion and only serves to confuse the unwary. The present survey can only repeat its conclusions for the neighbouring circle at Lagmore East (NJ13NE 10): there is no evidence, either on the ground or in the antiquarian sources, that there was ever a recumbent setting here. In this case, however, the possibility remains that it is indeed a ring-cairn.

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