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Fowlis Wester

Cairn (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Cup Marked Stone(S) (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Standing Stone(S) (Prehistoric), Stone Circle(S) (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name Fowlis Wester

Classification Cairn (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Cup Marked Stone(S) (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age), Standing Stone(S) (Prehistoric), Stone Circle(S) (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Moor Of Ardoch; Fowlis Wester, East; Fowlis Wester, West

Canmore ID 26170

Site Number NN92SW 1

NGR NN 924 249

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Fowlis Wester
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NN92SW 1 924 249

(NN 924 249) Stone Circles (Two shown) (OE)

Standing Stone (NR).

OS 6" map (1958)

A group of stone monuments excavated in 1939. The eastern group appears to have been a cairn, now denuded, bearing two circular settings.

The western group was of a different character - a simple circle. Some of the stones had been blasted, which probably accounts for the fact that none remain upright. Stone 'A' is 6ft high. At its foot fragments of unidentifiable burnt bone and charcoal were found mixed with quartz chips. Stone 'B' is now fallen though packing stones lie under and around it. It is 9ft long and 7ft 5ins wide.

A Young 1943; RCAHMS Emergency Survey 1942

These features are generally as described and planned by Young, but only two stones of the outer ring of the cairn remain in situ.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RD) 12 December 1966

These two stone rings have been seen as being aligned E-W on either equinoctial sunrise or winter moonrise. They have been variously seen as circular and elliptical on plan, and the standing stone to the NE of the E circle has been identified as a foresight aligned on the mountain of Creag na Criche (NN 985 531).

Burl sees the W ring as having a diameter of 7.3m and (possibly) comprising 12 stones while the E ring has measured 5.9m in diameter and (possibly) comprised 14 stones. The E ring was graded to the ESE and the W (possibly) to the WSW; cupmarks have been identified on the SSW side of the E circle.

The form of the two cairns has been considered comparable to ring-cairns of Clava type.

A Thom 1971; A Burl 1976; A Thom and A S Thom 1978.

(7:32 Fowlis Easter, East). This small ring was fully excavated in 1939. Before this date only the internal kerb was obvious. It was noted in the New Statistical Account (1837) as a double circle and hence is likely to have been damaged after this date. It comprised a ruined ring of small orthostats or stumps surrounding a kerb-cairn of near-contiguous slabs with a diameter of 4.9 x 5.7m. One of the slabs to the SW is cup-marked.

Under the denuded cairn within the inner ring was a clay floor, with scattered charcoal and burnt bone near the centre, concentratining on two shallow scoops. A sandstone disc and large quantities of quartz fragments were also found here.

Approximately 9.5m beyond the ring of orthostats to the NNE is a 1.8m high orthostat oriented radially to the site. This was set in a large pit which contained charcoal, burnt bone and quartz chips. A pit on its E side had a fill of white waterworn stones. About 26.5m (centre to centre) to the W of this site is the second ring and between the two is a tall orthostat.

(7:33 Fowlis Easter, West). This small ruined ring was fully excavated in 1939. It has variably-spaced stones, some of which, in the W half, are near-contiguous. However, the orthostats are exceptionall tall, which favours the latter interpretation. They are graded to the SW. Young makes no mention of internal cairn material but his published section shows a greater depth of material here, and the fact that all but one fell outwards suggests the interior was filled with a cairn.

Within the ring in the S half was an empty shallow pit and near the centre a scatter of cremated bone and charcoal was found on the surface.

Outside the ring (c. 6.2m to the E) is a fallen orthostat which originally would have been set radially to the ring and would have stood about 2m high.

J Barnatt 1989.

These monuments are (as described) in rough ground with a considerable depth of peat cover to the N. They are on an E-facing slope, rather than on the summit, of the hill.

Visited by RCAHMS (RJCM, JRS), 9 November 1995.


Field Visit (17 August 1942)

Stone Circle, Cairn and Standing Stones, near Fowlis Wester.

The group of monuments covered by this description stands about three quarters of a mile NNW of Fowlis Wester, on a broad ridge of moorland which descends in an ENE direction towards the Belmaduthy-Fowlis Wester road from a high point indicated by a closed contour at 800 foot. The main group, which extends some 130 ft from W to E, consists of a stone circle, a denuded cairn believed to have been excavated by Mrs H Nugent Young, and two standing stones one of which is now prostrate while some 200 yds further E and a little to the N of the crest of the ridge there lies another large slab which no doubt was once erect. The general disposition of all but the last-named can be seen from the sketch-plan.

Stone Circle: The stone circle may originally have been about 27 ft in diameter, but the facts that none of the stones is upright, that the pair at the N side are split fragments, probably displaced, and that the two shown in the NE segment are probably not true components of the ring make accurate reconstruction of the plan impossible. The two largest slabs, which are on the W side measure 6’6” and 6’ in length respectively; the other principal stones measure from 3ft to 5ft in length.

Standing Stone: About 20ft from the E side circle lies a slab which has evidently once been erect, and which seems to have fallen southwards from its original stance. It measures 7ft 6in in length, 5ft 8in in breadth, and 2ft in thickness.

Cairn: The cairn lies some 46 ft from the fallen stone and 60ft from the circle., It is now reduced to its peristalith, the interior of which is filled with a layer of large irregular blocks. The diameter over the peristalith is 17 ft. Outside this some stony material seems to underlie the turf for a further radial distance of about 5 ft, and there are also some outlying stones, probably displace from the cairn. At least nine stones of the peristalith are in position and measure from 3 ft to 5ft 6in in length; on the SW there is a gap and on the NW some disturbance seems to have taken place.

Standing Stone: Some 43 ft NE of the cairn is the upright standing stone. It measures 6ft in height, 5ft in breadth, and 2ft 8in in thickness. Its major axis is approximately NE and SW.

Standing Stone: The remaining stone now fallen, the position of which has been stated above, measures 7 ft. 6 in. in length , 4 ft. 8 in. in breadth, and more than 1ft. 6 in. in thickness.

Visited by RCAHMS (VGC and AG) 17 August 1942.

Publication Account (1987)

Situated on the Moor of Ardoch above Fowlis Wester, a position that offers commanding views over Strathearn towards the Ochil Hills, there is an interesting group of monuments that was excavated in 1939; it comprises two standing stones (although one is now fallen), a cairn with a circle of boulders around it, and a ruined circle of standing stones. The upright stone is some 2m high and bears a single cup-mark; excavation revealed a deposit of cremated bone, charcoal and quartz chippings on its east side; on the same side there was a pit carefully packed with white water-rolled stones. The cairn to the south-west belongs to a distinct group of sites known as kerb cairns, for the perimeter boulders, or kerb, form the most remarkable element; the cairn is some 4.8m in diameter and is best preserved on its southern half. At its centre excavation revealed traces of burning and patches of cremated bone as well as deliberately positioned quantities of white quartz. The inner face of one of the south-western kerb stones was decorated with three cup-marks. Four stones of the surrounding circle survive, but the stone-holes of the other seven could be clearly traced. The second circle and a fallen standing stone may be seen a little to the west, but the circle has been more severely damaged and none of its stones now remains upright.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).


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