Take the B6362 high road between Lauder and Stow and, regardless of which direction you’re coming from, when you reach the top heights of the moorland road with views all around, you need to keep your eyes peeled for where a dirt-track runs south and, diagonally across the road on its north side, is a dirt-track-cum-parking-spot. Park up here and walk 10 yards or so into the heather on your left. You’re probably stood at the side of it!
Archaeology & History
A very distinct, but isolated hut circle can be seen here when the heather is short. It’s most notable by seeing the slightly elevated circular rise in the ground with the rough ring of long grasses in the middle of it. To be honest, unless you’re a mad archaeo-geek into these sort of things, it’s not gonna send a rush of blood to your head.
Probably constructed in the Bronze Age, it’s a plain little thing about six yards across, making it suitable for perhaps just a couple of folk to have lived in. The overgrown walling is very low (between 12-18 inches high) and about a yard wide all the way round it. The main thing that you’ll get from this place is not only the sense of isolation, but the beautiful view…
From Kirriemuir town centre up the B956 Kinnordy Road, turn left where it goes along the B955 road for several miles towards Cortachy, following the same route as if you’re going to the curious Whitehillocks stone circle. Literally two miles (3.2km) along the road past Whitehillocks farmhouse, a large “parking” spot is at the right-hand side of the road. From here, walk along the road for 230 yards and go thru the gate on your left. The first low-rise hut circle is to your immediate right; and from here, meander along the track ahead of you, keeping your eyes peeled…
Archaeology & History
Despite being initially difficult to make out (as the photos here indicate), once your eyes have adjusted to the landscape morphology, you realise what an impressive prehistoric complex you’re wandering through. Saying that, it’s primarily a site that’s gonna be of interest to antiquarians, archaeologists and historians, as this is a settlement you’re looking at, lacking in megaliths, petroglyphs and similar ritual sites.
The first site that you’ll probably notice is visible from the road—but it’s not the first part of the settlement that you’ll pass. Immediately through the gate (as I’ve said) is the embanked rise of earth—only one or two feet high—making up the first notable hut circle (NO 36612 70453), measuring roughly 15 yards across. The shape and form of this circle typifies the others in the arena ahead of you, so that once you’ve made yourself aware of what this one looks like, you’ll be able to see the others with greater ease. Another low embanked circle of roughly the same size is just a few yards away at NO 36605 70439.
Straight back onto the track you’ll notice another larger D-shaped enclosure immediately on your left (NO 36622 70406), about 17 yards across; this is accompanied by what looks like a cairn immediately right of the track (NO 36609 70413), but this is actually a much smaller D-shaped enclosure, just right for one or two people.
The small rounded hill in front of you has what may be a circular enclosure on its top, but I wasn’t too sure about it. But looking down from this hill is the most visible of all the structures in the settlement (NO 36580 70307)—and the one I mentioned as being visible from the road. At first it’s a little deceptive in appearance, as you get the impression that the oval of stones (top photo) is what constitutes this hut circle, when in fact this element may be mediaeval in nature as it’s been built on top of an earlier Iron Age (?) enclosure. You can barely see this earlier form at ground level, so it’s best to walk back up the rounded hillock and cast your gaze back and forth and round the side of the ring of stones. You’ll see, eventually, the shallow overgrown walling of a larger oval-shaped enclosure, measuring eighteen yards across, whose edges start from the bottom of the hillock and arc around to the outer edges of the stone construction.
Back onto the track and further into the meadows, the next hut circle you’ll meet is (keep your eyes peeled) right by the track-side (NO 36573 70230). It has wide embanked walls that are low to the ground and completely overgrown, measuring 15 yards (E-W) by 18 yards (N-S), with what looks to be the original entrance or door on its south-side. A similar large circle exists on the other side of the track a little bit further along (NO 36499 70138).
There’s much more to this settlement, including lengths of walling in the grasslands below the last two circles and where, if you look carefully, you’ll see one of at least two cairns in this area. On the other side of the road are one or two other small hut circles and a much larger construction in the field further down the road, measuring 25 yards in length (NO 36569 70481). This would seem to be the largest of the lot.
The age of this settlement probably covers a considerable period of time: beginning perhaps in the Bronze Age, certainly in the Iron Age and all the way through into the mediaeval period where, all down Glen Clova, remnants of such hamlets still live beneath the soil. This entire arena is bathed in silence, save the wind and call of the birds. Tis a beautiful space to spend a few endless hours…
From Kirriemuir town centre up the B956 Kinnordy Road, turn left where it goes along the B955 road for several miles towards Cortachy. Keep going on the B955 for a few more miles into Glen Clova, past the Caddam stone and eventually, after going over the bridge into Clova village, you turn left and go up towards the mountains. Nearly 3 miles along you see the very conspicuous and impressive rising crag, like a small volcano on the right-hand side of the road, which is Dun Mor. Walk up the steep climb round to the back of it – and you’re in the middle of the old ruins…
Archaeology & History
Highlighted on the 1865 OS map of the region, Dun Mor is Gaelic for a “large or great fort” – and such it is! Those of you with a nose for these sorts o’ things will no doubt take to the remains pretty quickly. Its position in the landscape is a bit of a gem! On its north-side— invisibile to anyone in the glen below—an overgrown arc of walling some 3 feet high and about 70 yards long bends towards the crag of rocks on each side, with a notable “dip” or entrance about 8 feet wide in the middle of it. The walling itself averages about 4 yards wide all along its arc.
It’s quite impressive once you get a good feel of the place and envisage it as it once was. The sheltered fortress within the rise of Nature’s crags is about 100 yards across and would be ample space for several families to live in when it was first built, in those mythic times of so so long ago. It was probably constructed in the Iron Age, although several ruined rectangular stone structures inside it are thought to be medieval shelters; and even in those more recent times, the people here would have regularly heard the howl of the wolves, whose names are kept in the hills above as reminders of a world not too long past….
The only real way to get here is via Kirriemuir. Head north to the hamlet of Cortachy and past it, as you enter Glen Clova, where the road splits make sure you bear to the left-hand (western) side. Nearly 5½ miles along, keep your eyes peeled on your right where you can’t really miss it. The stone’s less than 100 yards into the field. …It may perhaps be a bit easier if you take the eastern road of the glen all the way to Clova village. Turn right from there, over the small river bridge and as it curves to go back down the glen, a half-mile along you pass Caddam house. Keep going for another 500 yards and you’ll notice it in the field.
Archaeology & History
Not to be confused with the ruined stone circle of the same name 10 miles to the south, this small standing stone—only some three feet in height—is at the eastern edge of a small overgrown hut circle measuring some 3 yards by 4 yards across. You can just make out the overgrown low walling in the second photo (right). The stone probably had some architectural relationship with the hut circle, but without an excavation we can’t know for certain what that relationship might have been. A settlement of much larger hut circles can be found on the other side of the river, near Rottal, two miles southeast of here.
Along the only road that crosses Askwith Moor, park up at the single carpark on the east-side of the road. Walk up the road for 350 yards and through the gate on the left-hand (west) side of the road onto the moorland. Once through the gate, walk directly west into the heather immediately below the path for some 25-30 yards. Look around!
Archaeology & History
Rediscovered by Helen Summerton in May 2022 are at least two simple hut circles on this level piece of land close to the roadside, amidst this much wider and impressive prehistoric landscape.
The small ring of stones (SE 17430 50978) closest to the road is slightly more troublesome to make out due to it being more deeply embedded in the peat than its companion about 30 yards away. Comprising of typically small rubble walling, this first circle is only 4 yards across and would certainly have been fine for one person or, at a push, perhaps a small family.
Its companion immediately west (SE 17401 50953) is somewhat larger and slightly more elongated in shape, being 10 yards along and 5-6 yards across, as well as being in a better state of preservation. This larger hut circle has been raised on a notable artificial earth-and-rubble plinth, being one or two feet higher than the surrounding peatland. A notable internal stretch of walling only a yard or two in length exists within the southeastern side of the construction, whose nature can only be discerned upon excavation: an issue we can say applies to the many prehistoric settlements and tombs across this small moorland. It’s very likely that other settlement remains will be found close to these two hut circles.
The remains of another hut circle can be found closer to Shooting House Hill, several hundred yards away; whilst five hundred yards southwest we find a small but impressive cairnfield. There are also a good number of petroglyphs close by and on much of the surrounding landscape.
Acknowledgments: Huge thanks to Helen Summerton (not Winterton) for finding these ‘ere remains – and for the photos accompanying this site profile.
Take the same directions as if you’re going to visit the Black Beck cairn. From here, walk through the heather northwest for about 60 yards. If the heather’s been cleared, you’ll see it low down, otherwise you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to finding this one!
Archaeology & History
Seemingly in isolation, this low-walled, D-shaped hut circle is presently the only the structure of its kind known to exist on this part of Hawksworth Moor; although to be honest we should expect there to be such structures in the area when we consider the size and proximity of the associated cairnfields immediately north and southeast of here.
As with most hut circles, it’s nowt special to look at in all honesty. The south side of the structure is rubble walling typical of these structures, curving round as usual; but its more northern section straightens out, creating a D-shaped structure. This line of straight walling seems attached to another, outer parallel wall 3 feet away, creating its very outer edge. The rubble walls themselves average three feet across; whilst the hut circle measures 6-7 yards across. We assume that it was constructed during the same period as the adjacent prehistoric necropolis.
Acknowledgements: With huge thanks, as always, for James Elkington for use of his photos. Also to the evolving megalith and landscape explorer Mackenzie Erichs; and to Linzi Mitchell, for additional input…
It’s probably easiest to start from the Green Plain settlement, from here crossing the Sun Bank Gill stream and walking east through the scattered heather and grasslands for 450 yards to the right-angled edge of the woodland. Keep walking eastwards alongside the woods for about another 250 yards, then walk into the grasslands north for about 140 yards or so. Zigzag about – you’re damn close!
Archaeology & History
Only for the purists amongst you. This is a simple small triangular stone, with a single notable cup-mark near the middle. It would seem to be in isolation as we could find no others in the immediate vicinity. An early marker no doubt.
Acknowledgements: With thanks to Helen Summerton, who helped with location on this fine day.
Take the directions to find the unusual and impressive West Strathan petroglyph, and keep following the road up past the carving until you reach the dead-end. A footpath takes you down to the river, where a rickety bridge takes you to the other side. From here, a footpath to your right goes up the slope at an easy angle and into the wilds ahead. Just a couple of hundred yards up, keeps your eyes peeled some 10-20 yards above you, to the left. It is a little difficult to see, and perhaps is better looked at from above the footpath, then looking down onto it. If you’re patient, you’ll find it!
Archaeology & History
Stuck out on its own, way off the beaten track, this seemingly isolated ‘hut circle’—as it’s been officially termed—rests on a small level piece of land some 400 yards north from the ruins of Dalvraid’s chambered cairn. It’s nowt much to look at to be honest, and is probably only gonna be of interest to the hardcore antiquarians amongst you.
When I came here, the walling was mainly covered in dead bracken and internally is a veritable lawn!—but it was pretty easy to make out. Slightly ovoid in form, with its entrance on the southern side, the circle is 10 yards across; and the although the low walling is barely a yard high on three sides, on the eastern section the natural slope was dug into to create a higher wall on that side.
Take the same directions to reach the impressive Carn Ban prehistoric tomb. From here, walk along the winding track past the giant cairn onto the moors for about 350 yards, until the track goes dead straight and heads NNW uphill. Walk up here for another 350 yards keeping your eyes peeled on the rounded pyramidal hill with the large rock on top. The circle is 20 yards off the track as you head up to the pyramidal hill stone.
Archaeology & History
Although this site is mentioned in notes by the Scottish Royal Commission and highlighted by Ordnance Survey, information thereafter is pretty scarce. Which is surprising when you check this place out first-hand. It’s bloody impressive! David Cowley (1997) describes the area, but not in much detail.
Northern arc of walling
Eastern arc of walling
The circle seems to have been rediscovered first of all by the dowser J. Scott Elliott (1964), who thought it was a cairn circle – which is understandable. However, it has been classified by the Royal Commission lads as a “hut circle”, so we’ll stick with that for the time being.
An entrance to the circle doesn’t stand out. There may be one on the southeastern side, but this isn’t clear; and what looked like a possible entrance on its northern edge was discounted, as a larger stone blocked this on the outside. There was no immediate evidence of any internal structure, no hearth, no tomb – merely a small stone at its centre, deeply embedded in the peat. This may, however, cover a central cist – which would make this a cairn circle and not a large hut circle. But that’s guesswork on my behalf!
Never excavated, what we’ve got here is a very well-preserved, large ring of stones, more typical of Pennine and Derbyshire ring cairns than any standard hut circles. But this is Scotland we’re talking about! This impressive ring measures outer-edge to outer-edge 12 yards in diameter (north-south), by 11 yards (east-west), with the stone walling that defines the ring being between 3 and 4 feet across all round, and between 1-2 feet high. And it’s in damn good nick! More similar in structure to the likes of Roms Law, a number of notably large stones define the edges, but many hundreds of smaller packing stones build up the ring walls. Of the larger rocks in the ring, the most notable one is a large white quartz crystal stone on its NNE side.
Quartz rock reflects the sun, looking W
It’s an impressive site whatever it may be! – in very good condition for its age (Bronze Age by the look of it) and, whilst still visible above the heather, well worth checking out if you like your stone circles and prehistoric rings. The small prehistoric graveyard 30-40 yards south and east, plus the extensive settlement systems all over these moors are all worth exploring if you visit this place.
Cowley, David C., “Archaeological Landscapes in Strathbraan,” in Tayside & Fife Archaeological Journal, volume 3, 1997.
Scott-Elliot, J., “Kinloch House, Amulree,” in Discovery & Excavation in Scotland, 1964.
Scott-Elliot, J., Dowsing – One Man’s Way, Neville Spearman: London 1977.
Park up and walk the long estate track up Glen Almond for nearly three miles until, on your left, you’ll see a small pond. From here, walk up the slope and, about 100 yards above you, note the large solitary boulder ahead, above the dyke of a small walled stream, where the land levels out. Just past the rock itself is the first of several remains.
Archaeology & History
First things first: the grid-reference cited here is centred upon the largest of several rings of stone found on this small grassy plateau, 150 yards north above the River Almond, just past the huge boulder. It’s an impressive site – and a previously unrecorded one.
The raised ring of Conichan
At least three large hut circles can be clearly seen on this small ridge, amidst a sea of prehistoric sites scattered all down this lonely Scottish glen. When Paul Hornby, Lara Domleo and I meandered up here the other day (to visit the Clach na Tiompan megaliths), extensive prehistoric walling called my nose up the slopes to see if anything was hiding away—and a large prehistoric ring, more reminiscent of the Derbyshire stone circles and ring cairns than any hut circle, appeared before me.
The first and largest that I came across is the one immediately north of the huge boulder (which may have slight traces of ancient walling running up to it). The large ring is clearly raised onto a flat level platform, with an entrance on its southern edge. The ring itself measures, from outer-wall to outer-wall some 12 yards wide (E-W) and 11 yards N-S. The northernmost section of the walling or stone embanked structure is built into the sloping hill to the rear, with the east and western walls constructed simply onto the flat land. The walling itself is typical of prehistoric structures, comprising the usual mass of small stones packed within a number of larger upright stones; although much of it is very overgrown with centuries of vegetation. The walling that constitutes the ring itself is between 1-2 yards across and about two-feet high above the present ground-level.
Second circular remains
…and from another angle
To the east of this is a smaller, roughly circular construction of similar form. The rocks that make up this site are much more visible and may have been robbed and used in the more extensive walling above and the dykes below. It is unclear whether the nature of this site is the same as that of the more defined circular enclosure we have just described.
The remains of a third structure was clearly evident a short distance to the east of this, but I didn’t have much time here and another visit is needed to make further assessments. Iron Age walling and other undocumented prehistoric remains were also found close by.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to the noses of little Lara Domleo and Prof. Paul Hornby for their bimbling aid to relocate this site – and one or two others that have been off the radar for many-a-century.