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Causewayed Enclosure (Neolithic)(Possible), Pit Circle (Prehistoric)(Possible), Square Barrow (Iron Age)(Possible), Unenclosed Settlement (Period Unassigned), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name Leadketty

Classification Causewayed Enclosure (Neolithic)(Possible), Pit Circle (Prehistoric)(Possible), Square Barrow (Iron Age)(Possible), Unenclosed Settlement (Period Unassigned), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Canmore ID 26621

Site Number NO01NW 21

NGR NO 02081 16121

NGR Description 4

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

NO01NW 21 02081 16121

(Location cited as NO 021 161). Fieldwalking organised by Perth Museum and Art Gallery and Dunning Parish Historical Society on the site of this large oval cropmark enclosure resulted in the find of a small sherd of Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age pottery from within the enclosure. The sherd shows a clean break suggesting that that it was the result of recent damage by the plough.

Flint and fieldwalking archive held by Perth Museum and Art Gallery (Acc. No: 1993.1094).

M D King 1993.

Aerial photographs (RCAHMSAP 1994) have recorded the cropmarks of the discontinuous ditch of a circular enclosure, situated some 250m W of Dunning Burn. At the approximate centre of which a possible square barrow has been identified at NO c. 0207 1616, and some 150m NW of another recorded square barrow (NO01NW 66).

Slightly to the SE of the enclosure lies a group of pits, and to the NE a second smaller enclosure has also been identified (NO01NW 22). Further cropmarks related to settlement activity are also visible in the area.

Information from RCAHMS (JH) 28 January 1998.

Scheduled (with NO01NW 22, NO01NW 33, NO01NW 36, NO01NW 39, NO01NW 40, NO01NW 55, NO01NW 56, NO01NW 66, NO01NW 68, NO01NW 131, NO01NW 134, NO01NW 141, NO01NW 142, NO01NW 143 ) as Leadketty, enclosures, ring-ditches, square barrow and pits.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 23 February 2001.

(Listed as possible causewayed enclosure). This plough-levelled enclosure is almost circular on plan. It was discovered during aerial reconnaissance by CUCAP in 1971, and fieldwalking has recovered Neolithic pottery from the surface.

A Oswald, C Dyer and M Barber 2001.


Aerial Photography (28 July 1971)


Aerial Photography (29 July 1979)

Field Walking (1993)

(Location cited as NO 021 161). Fieldwalking organised by Perth Museum and Art Gallery and Dunning Parish Historical Society on the site of this large oval cropmark enclosure resulted in the find of a small sherd of Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age pottery from within the enclosure. The sherd shows a clean break suggesting that that it was the result of recent damage by the plough.

Flint and fieldwalking archive held by Perth Museum and Art Gallery (Acc. No: 1993.1094).

Aerial Photographic Transcription (9 September 1994)

Aerial Photographic Transcription (9 September 1994)

An aerial transcription was produced from oblique aerial photographs. Information from Historic Environment Scotland (BM) 31 March 2017.

Aerial Photography (1994)

Aerial Photographic Transcription (1994)

Aerial Photography (7 August 2000)

Roman Gask Digital Project

Geophysical Survey (23 April 2012 - 26 April 2012)

NO 01932 15856 (centred on) A geophysical survey was carried out on elements of the cropmark complex at Leadketty, 23–26 April 2012, prior to excavation (see entry below). A gradiometer survey did not add more detail to the post-built features visible in aerial photographs, but was considerably more successful in defining ditch-defined enclosures, and added some ephemeral features not apparent in the cropmark record. A small, targeted area of resistance survey did not add much new detail, and high resolution gradiometer survey is recommended for any future investigation.

Archive: University of Glasgow and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland and University of Glasgow

Adrián Maldonado, University of Glasgow

Kenneth Brophy,


Excavation (6 August 2012 - 26 August 2012)

NO 0193 1586 As part of Phase 2 of the SERF Project an exploratory excavation was undertaken 6–26 August 2012 in three locations within the Leadketty cropmark complex. The cropmarks at Leadketty were initially recorded in 1970 by CUCAP, and regular repeat flying since 1976 by RCAHMS has revealed a remarkable complex of cropmarks across two large fields 1km to the N of the village of Dunning. Cropmarks indicate that this was the location of a substantial Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age ceremonial centre, including a massive palisaded enclosure, several hengiform enclosures, a four-poster setting, multiple barrows, ring ditches and pits, and a range of sub-circular enclosures of unknown date, one of which may be a causewayed enclosure. Leadketty is comparable to the prehistoric cropmark complex at Forteviot, 4km to the E, which was the focus of SERF excavations between 2007 and 2010 (DES 2008, 145-6 and DES 2009, 150 etc). The 2012 excavations were preceded by a targeted geophysical survey in Spring 2012 (see entry above). The three areas excavated were chosen to establish the survival of the archaeological traces, to provide comparative data to Forteviot and to assess the geophysics results.

Trench 1 focused on one of the features recorded within the palisaded enclosure, a square setting of four features suspected to be of later Neolithic date and thus perhaps contemporary with the use of the palisaded enclosure itself. This site was interpreted in the NMRS as a four-poster stone circle, but we felt that it was more likely that this was a timber setting, and this was confirmed by our excavation. The four-post setting was identified in the E half of the trench and consisted of four large postholes. These formed a square with each post c3m apart (measured from the approximate centre of the postholes). Two further postholes sat just to the NE of the square setting forming a ‘porch-like’ setting. These postholes were all c0.5m deep and no more than 1m in diameter, with clear post-pipes. Significant quantities of pottery were found in these features, some of which was Grooved Ware. Carbonised material was also found in these postholes, as were a few worked lithics. A series of other features were identified in this trench, some of which may be related to the four-post setting. These included a group of small postholes which seem to have formed a circular setting. These were 5–8m from the centre of the four-post setting with the majority lying on the circumference of 7–8m diameter circular setting. Some of these postholes showed signs of burning, notably in the N half of the setting. A series of pits, some intercutting, were located to the W of the four-poster; however, their relationship to this structure is unknown. Other features found within this trench included a series of slots, some of which may have once held wicker fences. The Leadketty four-poster is part of an increasingly recognized Late Neolithic tradition of architecture that extended across large areas of Britain and Ireland – timber structures defined by central square post settings with encircling timber circles or wall lines. These structures appear to encompass sites interpreted as both domestic sites and ceremonial monuments dating to the period 3000–2500 cal BC.

Trench 2 focused on a small henge-like enclosure within the palisaded enclosure. The mini-henge was defined by a wide but shallow ditch; the ditch was investigated through three slot trenches, and was 3–4m wide and up to 0.7m deep. At least one re-cut of the ditch was recognised, and in one location the ditch may have cut an earlier pit or postholes. The henge interior was a relatively small area, no more than 8m across while entrance to the henge was via a narrow causeway; no evidence for an external bank was found. A substantial cut feature was found towards the W half of the henge interior. This feature was c2.45m in diameter and up to 1.5m deep.The identification of a possible post-pipe and substantial stonework found towards the base and near the edges of this feature suggests that this pit once held a massive post. The relationship between post and mini-henge is unclear. The size and form of this henge suggests that is may be Bronze Age in date.

Trench 3 was located to investigate the N side of the huge palisaded enclosure near the single entrance avenue. Cropmarks suggest that this enclosure measures c400m E–W, and 250m N–S, with the S being an escarpment and river. The boundary itself consisted, as our excavations revealed, of timber posts, arranged c2–3m apart. Two entrance postholes, and seven boundary posts were excavated. The avenue postholes were large, and showed evidence for intensive burning of the posts. Sherds of Grooved Ware and worked lithics were recovered from these features. The boundary posts were less substantial, alternating between large and smaller postholes. No features were found between these postholes. Four palisaded enclosures of this nature have been recorded as cropmarks in Scotland, and excavations at the other three – Forteviot, Dunragit and Meldon Bridge suggest a Late Neolithic date.

The excavations suggest that this monument complex differs in key aspects to the Forteviot complex, in terms of the nature of the palisaded enclosure, the types of activities and structures within the enclosure, and depositional practices. Post-excavation analysis and radiocarbon dating will allow us to make more meaningful comparisons with Forteviot in the near future.

Archive: University of Glasgow and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland and University of Glasgow

K Brophy, University of Glasgow

A Gould, University of Glasgow

G Noble, University of Aberdeen

D Wright, University of Glasgow

R Younger, University of Glasgow


Excavation (June 2013 - July 2013)

NO 021 161 The main focus of the prehistoric element of the SERF Project in June–July 2013 was a putative Neolithic causewayed enclosure 2km N of Dunning and 500m N of the Late Neolithic Leadketty palisaded enclosure (NO01NW 40), which was the target of work in 2012. The enclosure is a cropmark discovery, sub-circular in form and defined by a single wide ditch with multiple entrance gaps. Fieldwalking by SERF in this area in March 2013 revealed no artefacts of note. Geophysical survey over the enclosure (using both resistivity and gradiometry techniques with readings taken every 0.25m by 0.125m) complemented the information gained by comprehensive cropmark recording.

Excavations at Leadketty in 2013 focused on an area measuring 50 x 20m on the S side of the enclosure, concentrating not just on the ditch, but also internal and external features recorded from the air and during the geophysical survey. During the three week excavation, we found no diagnostic material culture, despite identifying and digging dozens of cut features. It is hoped that post-excavation analysis will enable us to date the various features. The identification of features was problematic due to the dry weather encountered during the excavation, and a series of very wide plough furrows running across the trench had damaged some of the earlier features.

The ditch of the putative causewayed enclosure was sampled in three places and shown to be shallow, no more than 0.67m deep, and up to 2.66m wide. The fills were relatively clean silts that had washed in naturally from the surrounds. We identified one terminal, demonstrating that the entrance gap on the S side of the enclosure is indeed genuine, and not a product of differential cropmarking. No trace of a bank was found. A wide range of features were found in this ditched enclosure although none of these could be connected, stratigraphically to the enclosure itself. These consisted of clusters of small cut features including stake and postholes, pits, hollows and a slot that once supported a light fence or screen; some of the features were intercutting. A few of the postholes within the enclosure may have belonged to structures. A circular setting, a straight line of small posts and an arc of larger postholes were identified, but the relative chronology and function of these features was unclear. Fragments of cremated bone were identified in several features, but none represented a burial, while post 18th-century ceramics and corroded metal objects were found in several pits.

Outwith the enclosure, two main features were identified, and again chronologically we could not tell how these related to the causewayed ditch enclosure. A ring ditch 15m in diameter with a small entrance gap on the E side and a few small internal postholes was investigated; the ditch perhaps supported a fence. This feature cut a posthole which was found to be part of an arc of posts, which we interpreted as a rather substantial palisade or fence line. A possible entrance gap in this palisade, with large postholes flanking it, was identified. Both the ring ditch and palisade are visible as cropmarks on a few air photographs, although it is difficult to tell if the palisade represents part of the continuous boundary of a large timber-post defined enclosure following roughly the route of the causewayed enclosure, or if it is some kind of elaborate entrance arrangement, or simply a fence line.

The question of whether the causewayed enclosure should continue to be included in Neolithic studies remains unresolved. However, we have identified what appears to be a complex multi-phase occupation site, mostly we would argue representing prehistoric activity.

Archive: University of Glasgow and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland and University of Glasgow

Kenneth Brophy and Dene Wright, University of Glasgow, 2013

(Source: DES)

Aerial Photographic Interpretation (24 June 2014)

What may be a pit circle has been recorded as cropmarks on oblique aerial photographs (RCAHMSAP 1986) within the SE sector of the enclosure (NO 02101 16114). It measures about 8m in diameter.

Information from RCAHMS (KMM) 24 June 2014

Geophysical Survey (2015)

A programme of geophysical survey was undertaken in 2015 across a number of known archaeological sites in Perth and Kinross:

NO 02182 15001 (Canmore ID: 26662, SMR: 3675) Dunning – Roman temporary camp

NO 01900 15900 (Canmore ID: 26621, SMR: 9158) Leadketty – Enclosures, causewayed enclosure, ring ditches, square barrow and pits

NO 03940 17530 (Canmore ID: 26608) Forteviot – Roman temporary camp

NO 05353 16830 (Canmore ID: 26565) Forteviot – Henges, enclosures, square barrows and pits

NO 02600 15700 (Canmore ID: 84940, SMR: 8918) – Pit alignment.

Archive and report: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE)

Funder: Historic Scotland


Tessa Poller and Dene Wright – University of Glasgow

(Source: DES, Volume 16)


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