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Craighead

Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age)

Site Name Craighead

Classification Stone Circle (Neol/bronze Age)

Alternative Name(s) Hilltop Lodge; Badentoy

Canmore ID 37208

Site Number NO99NW 3

NGR NO 9117 9772

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/37208

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

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

Archaeology Notes

NO99NW 3 9117 9772.

This circle appears to have consisted originally of seven stones of which three now remain, the other four having been broken up. They vary in height from 4ft to 9ft 7ins. Half-burned bones and wood charcoal were found in the centre of the circle.

A Thomson 1865.

There seems to be no doubt that the stones were moved.

Visited by OS November 1961.

The site of this stone circle is marked by a diamond-shaped setting of four stones situated within a modern enclosure on the crest of a low rise 70m NNE of Craighead farmhouse. The level interior of the enclosure is raised between 0.3m and 0.8m above the surface of the surrounding field, and the setting measures 9m from NNW to SSE by 7m transversely, with the tallest stone (2.3m high) in the SSE and the shortest (1.3m high) on the ENE. At least one of the stones was set up between 1858 and 1890, and it is unlikely that any of them is in the original position. In 1858 excavation revealed traces of charcoal and cremated bone at the centre of the circle.

Name Book 1864; Thomson 1865; J A Henderson 1890; F R Coles 1900; RCAHMS 1984.

Activities

Watching Brief (30 March 2009 - 3 April 2009)

NO 9117 9772 The excavation of a new underground electricity cable trench, c46m W of the significantly disturbed stone circle of Craighead, was observed 30 March–3 April 2009. Bedrock was recorded along most of the length of the trench and no archaeological features or finds were evident.

Report: Aberdeenshire SMR and RCAHMS

Funder: SSE Power Distribution

JC Murray – Murray Archaeological Services Ltd

Publication Account (2011)

Craighead, or Badentoy as it is sometimes called after the farm to the north-east, does not appear in any lists of recumbent stone circles, but in one of her plates Christian Maclagan applies the name Bodentoy to a circle with six stones and the pecked outline of a plate that led Alfred Lewis to comment that it was uncertain whether or not there had been an altar-stone here (1900, 72). A closer reading of Maclagan’s text, however, reveals that this is the name she gave to Old Bourtreebush (NO99NW 2; 1875, 73). Standing within the raised interior of a walled enclosure, the Craighead circle now comprises four stones set out at the corners of a rhombus measuring 9m from north-north-west to south-south-east by 7m transversely. This has led Burl to include Craighead in his gazetteer of four posters (1988b, 130–1), but there is some doubt that any of them is standing in its original socket. In 1899 Coles’ suspicions were aroused by the way in which the stones appeared to stand at the cardinal points and had been drilled to take the iron rings anchoring the guys of a flagstaff at the centre (1900, 150 fig 10, 151). The flagstaff, however, seems to have been an afterthought to an earlier remodelling of the circle and there is no sign of it on the plan drawn up in 1884 by William Lukis (GM7828.37). This shows the four stones standing in their present positions within the enclosure, and he also records that the northernmost had been re-erected by the tenant (1885, 305). However, the depiction on the 1st edition of the OS 25-inch map drawn another fifteen years earlier is very different, showing three stones disposed around the south arc of a much larger circle (Kincardineshire 1868, vii). Three is also the number that Alexander Thomson noted in 1858 when he excavated here in company with Charles Dalrymple and others. Thomson believed that there had originally been seven, standing on a raised platform. Digging in the centre they discovered traces of a cremation deposit (1864, 130–1). The platform was ‘about 60 yards in circumference’ (ibid), which roughly accords with the stony outline some 17m across shown on the 1st edition of the OS map, but this was cut back to little more than 10m in diameter when the low revetment wall was built. Of the four stones now present, the southernmost is possibly still in its original socket, but the rest were almost certainly re-positioned within the new enclosure. Without excavation it will not be possible to demonstrate the true character of this circle and its relationship to the platform, but there is no reason to believe that it incorporated a recumbent setting.

Field Visit (4 October 2016)

This stone setting is situated in a paddock on the summit of School Hill, about 70m N of Hilltop Lodge - formerly the farmstead known as Craighead. It consists of four orthostats set out at the corners of a rhombus roughly 6m square, tightly confined within a drystone-walled roundel measuring 12m in diameter. This wall is broken on the ESE where steps provide access to the interior, the ground surface of which now rises up to 0.8m above the general level of the exterior. The orthostats, which are heavily encrusted with lichen, vary in size from 1.27m high by 0.6m broad and 0.4m thick on the NE (3) to 2.2m high by 1.03m broad and 0.5m thick on the SE (2). Although the ring has been very heavily modified, it is possible that the tall stone on the SE (2) is still in its original position (Welfare 2011, 506-7). The stone on the SW (1) is distinguished by quartz banding and veining, while the silhouette of a drilled shot-hole on the E face of the NW stone (4) confirms that has been split vertically from top to bottom before re-erection. All four orthostats possess a free-running iron ring attached to an inner face no more than 0.23m above the ground surface. Guys tied to these anchored the flagstaff at the centre of the roundel - the former position of which is marked by an irregular hollow in the grass up to 0.2m deep.

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

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