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Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Upper Wellwood

Hut Circle (Prehistoric)(Possible), Ring Cairn (Prehistoric)(Possible), Beaker (Prehistoric)

Site Name Upper Wellwood

Classification Hut Circle (Prehistoric)(Possible), Ring Cairn (Prehistoric)(Possible), Beaker (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Shiel Burn

Canmore ID 44753

Site Number NS62SE 1

NGR NS 6657 2416

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Ayrshire
  • Parish Muirkirk
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Cumnock And Doon Valley
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes ( - 1978)

NS62SE 1 6657 2416.

(NS 665 241) A structure, rather more than 275m OD and about 1.6km S of Wellwood House, was excavated in 1913 and re-explored in 1924. The excavation reports suggest that it was a hut circle, and this interpretation was accepted by Childe. Ritchie, stating that though the present disturbed nature of the site makes a firm re-interpretation impossible, this was probably a ring cairn. Baird first saw this as a "green patch with a few stones appearing here and there, suggesting the site of a cairn but proving later to be the remains of a hut circle".

It consisted of a bank of stones some 0.46m wide enclosing an area about 5.6m in diameter. Apparently within this area and extending beyond the bank was "a rough pavement of water-worn stones of all shapes, most of a weight which a man could carry" with "a large quantity of small stones, and debris, which filled the spaces between the uneven stones and made a more or less even floor". There seems little doubt that were this discovered today it would not be described as the pavement of a house but as a low cairn. The remains of "a fireplace paved with flat stones, with others set on edge to form a back", found rather off-centre may perhaps be interpreted as a disturbed cist while the fragments of a beaker (now in the NMAS, ACC Nos: EGA 10-14) found "near the fireplace" may have accompanied a burial.

J N G Ritchie 1970; J Baird 1914; A Fairbairn 1927; D L Clarke 1970; J

N G Ritchie and A MacLaren 1973; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1962

NS 6655 2412. When seen in 1954, this structure appeared as a turf bank 13.2m in diameter, 2.5m wide and 0.6m high, overgrown with heather. A number of flat stones were visible in the centre of the circle, and there was a flat area to the NE outside the circle.

Visited by OS (JFC) 29 July 1954

NS 6657 2416. This site appears as a heather-covered and mutilated stone-banked enclosure 14.5m in diameter overall. The bank varies from 2.0m to 5.0m wide, up to 0.8m high and encloses a disturbed interior. There is a 7.0m gap in the north-east and a small ruined structure, probably a sheep-pen, in the north west corner. Within this bank and separated from it by a 1.5m wide trench, is a concentric ring of large stones, like kerb stones of a cairn, 5.5m in diameter.

The site has similarities to the four structures to the NE (NS62NE 6), and is probably the remains of a cairn.

Surveyed at 1:10 000.

Visited by OS (BS) 13 July 1978


Field Visit (18 March 1992)

This site was excavated by Fairbairn in 1913 and 1924 (Fairbairn 1927), who interpreted it as a hut-circle. Although a later re-examination suggested that it may have been a cairn (Ritchie and MacLaren 1972), the site is so disturbed that a firm classification cannot be made.

Visited by RCAHMS (DCC) 18 March 1992

(A Fairbairn 1927; J N G Ritchie and A MacLaren 1973).


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