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Nether Corskie

Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish), Stone Circle (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)(Possible)

Site Name Nether Corskie

Classification Pictish Symbol Stone (Pictish), Stone Circle (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Waterton Of Echt; Upper Corskie; Dunecht School

Canmore ID 18537

Site Number NJ70NW 3

NGR NJ 74825 09598

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Early Medieval Carved Stones Project

Nether Corskie, Aberdeenshire, Pictish symbol stone

Measurements: H

Stone type: granite

Place of discovery: NJ 7482 09598

Present location: in situ on the slope north of the Corskie Burn.

Evidence for discovery: the symbols were first recognised in 1913 on one of a pair of standing stones.

Present condition: very weathered.


The symbols are incised approximately midway on the larger of the two stones, perhaps in relation to the pre-existing cupmark. There is a disc and rectangle (or mirror-case) and to its right and set slightly lower a mirror with a double-ball handle and a single-sided comb with an ornately shaped back.

Date: seventh century.

References: RCAHMS 2007, 119.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2017

Archaeology Notes

NJ70NW 3 74825 09598

(NJ 7483 0960) Stone Circle (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959)

At Nether Corskie near Waterton of Echt, are two standing stones, believed to be all that remains of a stone circle which formerly stood on the site. The western stone has two cup marks on it on the south and west faces. The former also bears two faintly incised early Christian (before AD 800) symbols - a mirror and comb to the right, and the mirror case to the left, both about half way up the stone.

J Ritchie 1915; W D Simpson 1943.


Field Visit (13 January 1965)

All that remains of this stone circle are two standing stones, situated in a pasture field. The western stone, containing a cup mark on the S and W face measure 1.5m x 0.9m x 3.0m high, and the eastern 1.8m x 0.6m x 2.1m high. The Pictish symbols on the west stone are now barely visible, due to prolonged weathering of this granite block. The space between the two stones has been used for field clearance.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 13 January 1965.

External Reference (October 1994)

(Scheduled as Upper Corskie). The monument comprises the remains of a stone circle with later, Pictish symbols incised upon one stone. It stands on the slope to the N of the Corskie Burn.

Two unusually massive standing stones remain of the circle. Both are of granite and they stand about 3.0m apart and with their long axes aligned E-W. The E stone stands 2.1m high, and measures 1.8m long and 0.6m wide. The W stone stands 3.0m high, and measures 1.5m long and 0.9m wide. The W stone has two cupmarks, one each on the S & W faces, which are probably contemporary with their erection as part of a stone circle. The W stone also has later Pictish symbols incised on its S face; a 'mirror' and a 'comb' to the right and a 'mirror case' to the left. The symbols have been weathered and are only clearly seen in a strong side light.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated October 1994.

Reference (1994)

This grey granite stone bears two faint symbols, mirror and comb and 'mirror case' or disc and rectangle.

RCAHMS 1994.

Reference (1997)

Class I symbol stone bearing a mirror-and-comb with a mirror-case to the left.

A Mack 1997.

Note (23 April 1998)

(Formerly recorded as NJ70NW 15). It is clear from Keillor's notebooks (MS/106/29), which includes a crude sketch, that the stones formerly recorded as NJ70NW 15 are the setting at Nether Corskie, NJ70NW 3.

Information from RCAHMS (JRS), 23 April 1998.

Field Visit (15 April 1998)

Two large upright granite boulders are situated on a terrace on an otherwise S-facing slope some 310m N of Dunecht School. The two stones are aligned ESE and WNW, the E stone measuring 1.8m in breadth by 0.55m in thickness at ground-level and 2.1m in height, and the W stone (3.1m to the WNW) 1.6m in by 0.9m and about 2.9m in height. On the W side of the latter, at a height of 0.95m, there is a cupmark measuring about 90mm in diameter and 20mm in depth. On the S face of the stone there are the heavily weathered remains of a Pictish comb and mirror symbol. A pile of field-cleared stones between and to the N of the two uprights includes a large boulder that measures 2.9m in length from E to W by 1.4m in breadth and 1.1m in thickness, but old photographs show that none was present in 1924,.

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS), 15 April 1998.

Measured Survey (27 August 1998 - 28 August 1998)

RCAHMS surveyed Nether Corskie standing stones between 27-28 August 1998 with plane table and alidade at a scale of 1:100. The resultant plan and elevation of the stones were redrawn in vector graphics software and published at a scale of 1:250 (Welfare 2011, 533).

Publication Account

These two granite stones stand on a south-facing terrace some 300m north of Dunecht School. Set about 3m apart, the western (A) presents a pear-shaped profile to the south, measuring a maximum of 1.6m by 0.9m and 2.9m in height, while its eastern neighbour (B), a slab measuring 1.8m by 0.55m and 2.1m in height, has an asymmetric profile that appears to arch over towards the east. The taller western stone has been reused as a Pictish symbol stone and bears the incised outline of a mirror case and a mirror-and-comb on its south face (Fraser 2008, 34, no. 36). Which also has a single cupmark on its west side. Lying on the dump of field gathered stones that has collected around them there is a large boulder (C) measuring 2.9m in length by 1.4m in breadth. The origin of this boulder is unknown, though in 1865 the OS surveyors annotated the two stones Stone Circle (Remains of) (Aberdeenshire 1869, lxxiii). The entry in the Name Book identifies them as one of ‘the three druidical temples in the district, of the usual circular form’ mentioned in the Statistical Account (x, 1794, 248 note) and claims the other stones had been broken up to build field walls (Name Book, Aberdeenshire, No. 15, p 68). If the boulder now lying between the two stones was part of a circle, it must have been buried rather than broken up. It is a relatively recent addition and was not present when Coles visited the stones in 1902 (1903a, 83–4) or when James Ritchie photographed them in 1904 (RCAHMS AB4830). The suggestion that these are the remains of a recumbent stone circle comes from Coles, who had no doubt that he was looking at the flankers of a recumbent setting. This assessment has been generally accepted ever since (Burl 1970, 78; 1976a, 352, Abn 80; 2000, 421, Abn 83; Ruggles 1999, 187 no. 69, 266 note 14), though both Ruggles (1984, 57 note r, 60) and Barnatt (1989, 463, no. 6:147) have raised the possibility that they might be part of a four-poster setting or simply a two-stone alignment. The present survey has tended to this latter view and has not found Coles’ hypothesis entirely convincing. Compared with the flankers of other recumbent settings, this pair is unusual; more typically the profile of the eastern slab would suggest that the recumbent lay to its east rather than between them. However, excavation could resolve the issue.


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