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Beech Hill House, Coupar Angus

Cist(S) (Bronze Age), Kerb Cairn (Bronze Age), Ring Ditch (Prehistoric), Food Vessel(S) (Bronze Age), Food Vessel(S) (Bronze Age), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Site Name Beech Hill House, Coupar Angus

Classification Cist(S) (Bronze Age), Kerb Cairn (Bronze Age), Ring Ditch (Prehistoric), Food Vessel(S) (Bronze Age), Food Vessel(S) (Bronze Age), Unidentified Pottery (Neolithic)

Alternative Name(s) Beech Hill Cairn; Beach Hill

Canmore ID 30982

Site Number NO24SW 8

NGR NO 2201 4040

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes (1993)

The finds from the excavation of this cairn have been donated to Perth Museum and Art Gallery (Accession no. PMAG 1993.836.1-73).

M D King 1993.

Archaeology Notes (1997)

The archive from the excavations at Beech Hill House has been catalogued. It consists of photographic archive, manuscripts and drawings.

Historic Scotland Archive Project (JM) 1997

Archaeology Notes

NO24SW 8 2201 4040.

(NO 2202 4040) TUMULUS (NR)

OS 6" map (1938)

For nearby discoveries of cist and Celtic stone head, see NO24SW 9 and NO24SW 77 respectively.

Beach (Beech) Hill is an artificial mound. It is said that it was once used for the administering of justice, and that a 'Roman' urn was found here. An old thorn tree (now preserved) grows on the mound, which was mentioned in title deeds over 400 years ago. Beech Hill is described by O G S Crawford as a 'Round grass-grown mound c.10 ft. high. Stones on highest point' and by M E C Stewart as an 'Earth and water-worn stone tumulus - much eroded. Around the base are signs of larger stones set against the angle of rest of the mound.'

OSA 1796; Name Book 1864.


Field Visit (10 February 1969)

A very dilapidated mound of earth and stones (probably a cairn), c.1.4m high, with some large stones embedded in its west scarp. The old thorn tree has now gone and the mound, known locally as 'Beech Hill', was used as a gallows-hill. (Mr Wilson, 'Princeland', Coupar Angus)

Revised at 25".

Visited by OS (WDJ) 10 February 1969

Excavation (May 1989 - July 1989)

The renovation of a building initially necessitated the disturbance, and the subsequent levelling, of the fluvio-glacial ridge on which the monument stood. An assessment trench dug in May 1989 was followed in June-July 1989, by the complete excavation of the cairn.

Ring-Ditch: The V-shaped ring-ditch had an average width of 50cm and an average depth of 60cm. The ditch enclosed an area 8.50m in diameter containing patches of residual ground surface. Several post pipes were identified in the northern section of the ditch.

Sherds of Late Neolithic grooved ware were recovered from deposits immediately outside the ring-ditch.

Cist 1: This was located outside the ring-ditch on its SW side. It consisted of a deep pit, its long axis aligned NW-SE. It contained a large quantity of cremated bone sealed by a capstone and large boulders.

Cist 2: This was located W of the ring-ditch and was structurally identical to Cist 1. Its long axis aligned N-S. It contained a large quantity of cremated bone.

Cist 3: This was located within the ring-ditch, in an area of recent disturbance. Its long axis was NW-SE. It consisted of a substantial boulder-lined pit, with capstone absent, and containing a food vessel. Cist4: This is located near the centre of the ring-ditch enclosure. It has an EW long axis. Its southern part has suffered recent disturbance and the capstone is missing. It contained a food vessel.

Cist 5: This cist cuts the ring-ditch. It consists of a deep pit,

with an EW long axis. It is constructed of fine sandstone side slabs, covered with a massive capstone, and was sealed by boulders. It contained an inhumation accompanied by a food vessel.

The Cairn: Twelve kerb stones remain in situ on the N and NE periphery where they overlie the fill of the ring-ditch and in places, the old ground surface. Elsewhere, the kerb has been removed by recent dsturbance. Its estimated diameter was c8.50m. The surviving cairn material within the kerb consisted of fist-sized water-rounded stones. The deposit was severely disturbed by root action and had been extensively robbed. The original depth of the cairn could not be determined.

Sponsor: SDD HBM-AOC

S Stevenson 1989.

Note (18 December 1992)

In 1989 a much-disturbed cairn in the garden of Beech Hill House, Coupar Angus, was excavated in advance of redevelopment; the following account is based on the excavator's interim report.

The Beech Hill cairn had probably been a focus of activiy over a long period of time. Two cists had been built before it was raised, but one of these cut an earlier pit and this may have been a grave too. Both these cists, and the pit, lay within the area enclosed by what may be conveniently described as a ring-ditch measuring some 8.5m in internal diameter. The fill of the ring-ditch, however, suggested that it had never been an open feature and may have held upright timbers. The ring-ditch had been dug through an earlier pit on the SE, but was itself cut by a third cist on the E. This cist, and two further cists on the W, lay outside the edge of the cairn, which measured 8.5m in diameter over a boulder kerb. The cairn was set concentrically within the ring-ditch, but the relationship between the two could not be demonstrated stratigraphically.

For various reasons, the radiocarbon dates for three of the cists and the ring-ditch cannot be relied upon to clarify the sequence of events on the site, but grave-goods accompanying the burials show that this cemetery was certainly in use at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. These grave-goods include Food Vessels, a bronze pin and two bone artefacts, one of them a pommel and the other a toggle. Some of the artefacts found beneath the cairn, which include sherds of Grooved Ware of Late Neolithic date, are thought to derive from manure spread in the course of earlier agricultural activity on the site.

The author of the Statistical Account also recorded the discovery of a 'Roman urn' in the cairn.

Information from RCAHMS (JRS) 18 December 1992.

OSA 1796; S Stevenson 1989b.

Excavation (1995)

A much disturbed cairn was excavated in the summer of 1989, prior to building work on the site. Two phases of prehistoric activity were discerned. In phase 1, evidence of pre-cairn agricultural activity was identified in a residual old ground surface which produced a tenuous third millennium BC date. No structural features were identified but settlement in the vicinity was suggested by the presence of flint artefacts and Neolithic pottery. Phase 2 comprised the Bronze Age kerb cairn and associated features. The monument was much damaged and the archaeological relationships between different features was often difficult to establish. Finds included Food Vessels, a bronze pin, a bone toggle and a bone pommel; the pommel is the sole example of its type from Scotland. However, the radiocarbon dates seem to be incompatible with the artefactual evidence which has limited the interpretation of the chronology of the site.

S Stevenson 1995.


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