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Glassel

Stone Circle (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Site Name Glassel

Classification Stone Circle (Neolithic) - (Bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Torphins; Glassel, Stone Setting

Canmore ID 36195

Site Number NO69NW 2

NGR NO 6488 9966

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/36195

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Banchory-ternan
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Kincardine And Deeside
  • Former County Kincardineshire

Archaeology Notes

NO69NW 2 6488 9966

(NO 6490 9966) Stone Circle (NR).

OS 6" map, (1959)

A sub-oval setting of five, reddish-granite pillar-stones ranging in height from 2'9" to 3'3", and enclosing an area with extreme diameters of 15'9" and 7'9". A prostrate block of indurated sandstone 1' thick lies on the north arc and between this and the erect stone on the west is a small, quite earthfast lump of granite. A 10" thick boulder of diorite or fine-grained granite lies 10' SW of the south stone and much closer to the edge of the bank which falls away to the Canny Burn on the west. The interior is smooth, grassy and well-flattened by a path.

F R Coles 1900.

A setting of upright stones of uncertain purpose, generally as described and planned by Coles except that the prostrate block on the N arc has been moved about 1.0m north-eastwards.

Revised at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (R L) 5 June 1972.

The setting and size of stones are similar (though the 'circle' is smaller in diameter) to the east circle at Backhill of Drachlaw (NJ64NE 6) which Burl (1971) describes as a "circle transitional in form between recumbent stone circles and 4-Posters'. These stones are probably also representative of this transitional type of circle.

Visited by OS (E C W) 14 November 1972.

H A W Burl 1971; H A W Burl 1976.

Activities

Publication Account (1986)

An oval setting of five granite pillars, 5.5m by 2.8m, the tallest on the south-west, situated on level ground at 110m but near a sharp drop to the Canny Burn. The stones range in height from 0.84m to 0.99m. The site was dug into sometime before 1879 and re-excavated in 1904 when a small flint flake and a few charcoal fragments were found. The block of indurated sandstone lying loose may have been a cist cover.

This setting is similar to Image Wood, Aboyne (NO 524990) and the east circle at Backhill of Orachlaw (N] 672463), transitional in form between recumbent stone circles of the third millennium and four-post stone settings of the later second millennium BC.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian’, (1986).

Publication Account (1996)

An oval setting of five granite pillars, 5.5m by 2.8 m, the tallest on the south-west, situated on level ground at 110m but near a sharp drop to the Canny Burn. The stones range in height from 0.84m ro 0.99m. The site was dug into sometime before 1879 and re-excavated in 1904 when a small flint flake and a few charcoal fragments were found. The block of indurated sandstone lying loose may have been a cist cover.

This setting is similar to Image Wood, Aboyne (NO 524990) and the east circle at Backhill of Drachlaw (NJ 672463), transitional in form between recumbent srone circles of the third millennium and four-post stone settings of the later second millennium BC.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Aberdeen and North-East Scotland’, (1996).

Publication Account (2011)

This stone setting is situated in Dam Wood immediately north-east of the disused Deeside railway. Probably comprising six small stones between 0.8m and 1m in height, only five remain upright. Four of them are set out in a rough square to form the east-north-east and west-south-west sides of the setting, while the fifth stands on its axis on the south-south-east. The latter was probably matched by the sixth on the north-north-west to form a symmetrical arrangement some 7.6m in overall length by 3.45m in breadth; the long axis of the stone on the south-south-east is aligned with the axis of the setting. The setting was annotated Stone Circle by the OS surveyors in 1864, at which time all six stones were upright (Name Book, Kincardineshire, No. 3, p 26), but when William Lukis drew up his plan in 1884 the one on the north-north-west had already fallen (1885, 303, 304–5; GM7829.29). Lukis noted that the setting was not circular, but Alfred Lewis included Glassel in his paper on Scottish stone circles. There it is noted in an appendix listing sites that he deemed ‘so incomplete that it is uncertain whether they possessed an “altar-stone” or not’ (1900, 72), which perhaps implies that he had no firsthand knowledge of the stones. Any question that the setting might have included a recumbent was dispelled by Coles’ survey in 1899 (1900, 168–71, figs 24–5) and James Ritchie’s photographs taken in 1902 (RCAHMS KC316 and 317); a third photograph taken the following year is staged with the fallen stone on the north-north-west re-erected (RCAHMS KC315). An excavation by Coles (1905, 202–5) and a survey by Alexander Thom (Thom 1967, 137; Thom et al 1980, 212–13) have confirmed the general character of the setting, which Burl has suggested is a four-poster with an outlier (1988b, 132– 3; 2000, 429, Knc 14). Despite his arguments for the close links between four-posters and recumbent circles (1988b, 15; 2000, 229–31), there can be no doubt that Glassel has no place in the present Gazetteer.

Field Visit (4 October 2016)

This stone setting is situated in a clearing within a coniferous plantation (Dam Wood), 3m from the crest of a steep SW-facing scarp that drops down to the disused railway line. It now consists of five orthostats arranged in a truncated diamond-shaped plan, measuring about 5m from NNW to SSE by 3m transversely. However, there is no doubt that it was originally symmetrical (Welfare 2011, 519) and it is possible that the putative fallen orthostat (4?) adjacent to that on the N (3) may have stood originally at the NNW end of the setting. The remaining stones vary in size from 0.8m high by 0.45m broad and 0.65m thick at the SSE end (1) to 0.9m high by 0.56m wide and 0.36m thick on the E (2). The limits of Coles' excavation are detectable to the S of the setting, where the depression is up to 0.25m deep. The stone he interpreted as a possible cist cover and placed at the centre of the setting is no longer present and it seems evident from a small hollow shown on Keiller's plan of 1926 that the setting has been subsequently disturbed. The two unrelated prone stones on the plan (a and b) were not only illustrated by him, but also by Coles and Lukis. Thom shows only one (a), while Keiller illustrates an additional stone that must have lain close to the crest of the scarp.

Visited by HES, Survey and Recording (ATW, AMcC), 4 October 2016

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