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Wester Echt

Cross Incised Stone (Early Medieval), Graffiti (Period Unassigned), Recumbent Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age)

Site Name Wester Echt

Classification Cross Incised Stone (Early Medieval), Graffiti (Period Unassigned), Recumbent Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age)

Canmore ID 18534

Site Number NJ70NW 2

NGR NJ 7385 0834

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Echt
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ70NW 2 7385 0834.

(NJ 7385 0834) Standing Stones (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959)

A stone circle originally consisting of nine stones, but with only three now remaining, stands a few hundred yards to the west of the Waterton to Echt road, about 1 mile south of the former.

The most easterly of the stones is 9ft high, about 4ft broad and 3ft thick at the base. The middle stone which has partly fallen outwards is of similar girth but is only 6ft high, whilst the remaining stone is 8ft high, 5ft broad, and about 1 1/2ft thick. On the inner side of the latter are two smaller stones set in the ground at right angles to it, which are apparently the remains of a cist.

The three stones and a dark circular crop mark are visible on air photographs (58/RAF/1109 5 May 1953 F21 0165-0167).

J Ritchie 1919.

All that remains of this stone circle are three standing stones, annotated A B and C, situated on a pasture field. They measure (A) 1.2m x 0.8m x 3.0m high, (B) 1.0m x 0.8m x 2.6m high, and (C) 1.3m x 0.4m x 2.3m high. The two smaller stones, 0.5m high, which Ritchie (1919) consider to be the remains of a cist, are probably modern packing stones.

Visited by OS (NKB) 13 January 1965.

Site of Regional Significance. Three stones and a dark circular cropmark are visible on vertical air photographs (58/RAF/1109 F21 0165-7, flown 5 May 1953).

NMRS, MS/712/35.

(Classification amended to Stone Circle: Recumbent; Cross: Incised; Graffiti). Three granite pillars stand in a shallow arc on a gentle E-facing slope 120m SW of New Wester Echt steading (NJ70NW 31). The disposition of the stones is such that it is unlikely that they all belong to the recumbent stone circle which probably stood here, and the NE stone in the arc is probably an outlying standing stone.

The SW stone, which probably formed part of the recumbent setting, measures 1.45m in breadth from E to W by 0.35m in thickness at ground-level and 2.4m in height. Field-cleared stones have been piled immediately to the N of this stone, including a boulder, measuring 2m in length. The 'cist' previously reported is simply two small slabs set up at right angles against the foot of the north side of the stone.

The middle stone of the three leans heavily to the S some 15m to the ENE and measures 1m in breadth by up to 0.8m in thickness at ground-level and about 2m in height. If this originally lay on the arc of the recumbent stone circle, it suggests the latter would have measured about 24m in diameter - comfortably within the acceptable dimensions for the class.

The probable outlier, which stands a further 11.7m to the NE, measures 1.3m in breadth from NE to SW by 0.8m in thickness at ground-level and about 2.6m in height. On the SE face, 1.6m above the ground, there is an incised (possibly chiselled) cross, while the initials 'CM' have been carved close to ground level. The cross measures 0.3m in height by 0.21m in breadth, and the cross-bar is set a little above the midpoint of the shaft.

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS), 15 April 1998.


Field Visit (22 July 1999)

Three stones disposed in a shallow arc 130m SW of the steading at New Wester Echt are all that remain of a recumbent stone circle with what was probably an outlying standing stone. They stand on ground sloping gently down eastwards from the summit of a low hill, the easternmost (B) being the outlier and the other two comprising the W flanker (1) and an orthostat (4) on the SE quarter of the ring. The flanker is a tall granite slab and measures 1.4m in breadth by 0.4m in thickness and up to 2.4m in height, while the neighbouring orthostat, which leans heavily to the S, is about 1.9m high. The presence of an internal cairn can be inferred from a single kerbstone, a thin upright slab, visible amongst the field-cleared stones gathered behind the flanker. Its character is clearly demonstrated by one of James Ritchie’s photographs taken in 1902 before the rest of the stones were dumped here, though the status of a second earthfast stone he noted behind the flanker is less certain (see below). A large polygonal slab (A) also now lies amongst these stones and may be a fragment from one of the other orthostats. With so few stones remaining it is difficult to estimate the original diameter of the circle with any confidence, but the positions of the stones, and due allowance for the recumbent and a second flanker, place the diameter in the order of 23m, with the outlier standing about 8m to the E. The latter measures about 1.3m by 1m at ground level and rises to a point at a height of 2.6m; its S face bears an incised cross near the top and the initials CM towards the base.

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS, ATW and KHJM) 22 July 1999


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