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Corrie Cairn

Cairn (Prehistoric), Human Remains (Prehistoric), Recumbent Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age), Beaker(S) (Bronze Age)(Possible), Cinerary Urn (Prehistoric)

Site Name Corrie Cairn

Classification Cairn (Prehistoric), Human Remains (Prehistoric), Recumbent Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age), Beaker(S) (Bronze Age)(Possible), Cinerary Urn (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Cairn Curr; Warrackston; Cairn Cur

Canmore ID 17683

Site Number NJ52SE 13

NGR NJ 5522 2052

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Tullynessle And Forbes
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ52SE 13 5522 2052.

(NJ 5522 2052) Corrie Cairn (NR)

Stone Cists, Urns and Human Remains found (NAT)

OS 6" map, (1959)

This cairn, though well known locally as Cairn Cur (Stuart {1867; 1868} and Simpson [1943] call it Cairn Curr) was named Corrie Cairn by the proprietor, Sir H P Gordon, on the authority of an estate plan of 1840 (information from Estate Plan of Knockespock, surveyed by Mr Walker, Aberdeen, 1840) It was opened about 1864 by Sir H P Gordon, J Chalmers and J Stuart and great quantites of stones were carted away. Stuart described the cairn as 'a circular structure, about 52 feet across, formed of small boulders, which rested on a foundation of large stones on the outside... About 8ft from the outside, the cairn was formed into a ridge all round, somewhat higher than the general surface, and from this it sloped downwards to the centre, which appeared depressed.'

A standing stone, about 11 feet high stood on the W side of the cairn and a smaller stone stood slightly outside the cairn on the E side. The larger stone was removed out of line into a dyke and the outer is now used as a gatepost.

Several short cists and a number of urns in holes protected by stone slabs were found under the ridge of the cairn. All the cists, with one exception, were aligned concentrically with the cairn. This one, of massive slabs, was aligned E-W across the ridge of the cairn, on its west side. Extensive traces of burning were observed in the centre of the cairn with great deposits of charred earth, stones and wood.

Amongst them were many small fragments of white quartz and pottery. Only the rim fragment of one of the urns found seems to have survived. This is part of an encrusted cinerary urn now in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) - EA 21.

Stuart (1867; 1868) mentions another urn, fragments of which were at the NMAS - probably EE 23, a food vessel, 4in by 4 1/2in, with straight sides. The ONB (1866) states that two urns found in cists were 6 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep and another, found outside the cist, was 8 inches in diameter and 14 inches deep. The whole surface of these urns bore herring-bone ornament. The drawings in the ONB suggests that they were beakers.

Name Book 1866; J Stuart 1867; J Stuart 1870; NMAS 1892; J Abercromby 1912; W D Simpson 1943.

The remains of Corrie Cairn measure 18.0m in diameter and c.0.5m high; heavily mutilated by excavation. The cist, seen and photographed by the SS reviser in 1955 , has been removed. Stuart's description of the cairn suggests that the site may have been a recumbent stone circle.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 18 September 1967.

This cairn is situated at an altitude of 260m OD.

NMRS, MS/712/53.


Field Visit (25 July 1943)

This site was included within the RCAHMS Emergency Survey (1942-3), an unpublished rescue project. Site descriptions, organised by county, vary from short notes to lengthy and full descriptions and are available to view online with contemporary sketches and photographs. The original typescripts, manuscripts, notebooks and photographs can also be consulted in the RCAHMS Search Room.

Information from RCAHMS (GFG) 10 December 2014.

Field Visit (7 June 1999 - 8 June 1999)

Now reduced to little more than a heavily quarried mound, it is only the presence of a large elongated boulder, the recumbent (2), built into an old dyke that allows it to be identified as the remains of a recumbent stone circle. The mound stands on the leading edge of a natural terrace on the crest of the spur descending SSE from Drumbarton Hill above Terpersie. The dyke incorporating the recumbent, now somewhat dilapidated and strengthened with a wire fence, traverses the mound from N to S, dividing it into two, the larger part lying on the E. The recumbent (2), a massive block measuring about 3.5m in length by 1.55m in height, has a relatively even summit bearing at least nine small cupmarks. It is probably fairly close to its original position on the SSW, with its W end dragged round into the line of the wall immediately N of a gateway; as a result it now faces due W. The shape of the boulder leaves little doubt that this is a recumbent, though there is no record of it standing between a pair of flankers, and, with the exception of a displaced stone (A) forming the S side of the gateway, nor indeed of the rest of the ring. To the N the foundation of the dyke preserves the flat-topped profile of the mound, which is evidently the remains of a low cairn that has been heavily quarried. Now measuring 20m from N to S by 16.5m transversely and 0.5m in height, the eleven earthfast kerbstones visible around its margin suggest an original diameter a little over 16m, though the cairn may be polygonal on plan if the straight line adopted by the kerb on the SE is repeated in other sectors.

Visited by RCAHMS (ATW and KHJM) 7-8 June 1999


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