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The Henge, Balfarg

Balfarg is a prehistoric monument complex, and an adjacent residential area, in Glenrothes in Fife, Scotland.

Balfarg Henge[edit]

The Balfarg henge, located at grid reference NO282031, is part of a larger prehistoric ceremonial complex. It contains the remnants of a stone circle which has been partly reconstructed.

The Balfarg henge was excavated between 1977 and 1978 by Roger Mercer prior to the development of a new housing estate, work which established that the two extant standing stones were part of a circle that stood within the henge. The two surviving specimens lined the north-west oriented entrance to the henge.[1]

Within the 64.9 metres (213 ft) diameter henge were found broken Neolithic pottery, burnt wood and bone which had been dumped on the site prior to the erection of a 25 metres (82 ft) wide timber circle of 16 wooden posts. Two especially large portal timbers stood on the west side of the circle. It is likely that the henge was built after these phases of activity. Grooved ware pottery found in the postholes dates to around 2900 BC. Some of the vessels may have been used to hold black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) which is a poison but also a powerful hallucinogen.[2]

Five further concentric post rings had also been erected outside and inside the main wooden circle although these were made from narrower timbers and may have supported hurdling or a palisade.

Later during the site's use the timber circle was replaced by two concentric stone circles, again with an entrance to the west and some time after this the henge was constructed. Around 1900 BC a pit was dug in the centre of the stone circles and in it was placed the body of a young man along with a flint knife and a handled beaker.

Later excavation between 1983 and 1985 by Barclay and Russell-White demonstrated that there were scatters of earlier Neolithic pits round the Balfarg henge. These excavations also discovered a second henge, which surrounded a Neolithic timber mortuary enclosure. A second such timber structure lay just outside the henge, partly overlain by a complex of two burial cairns.[3]

Nearby is the Balbirnie stone circle, which is also part of the complex.

Also up until recently the henge was used a field where the local youths of Balfarg played football and other sporting games. In 1995 a tradition left Balfarg when the Local fete moved from Balfarg henge to nearby Gilvenbank Park.

Balfarg estate[edit]

Balfarg is a very small housing area and comprises no shops or leisure features, although it hosts a pub which has changed names and hands. (1982-circa 1988 Jaguars) ( 1988-2006 The Snooty Fox) Now it is a hotel/Pub called The Gilvenbank Hotel. In 2012 Balfarg and the adjoining area, The Henge, was expanded with introduction of new housing. There is a small burn that flows through Balfarg then on to Balbirnie Park then onwards to the River Leven. There is an old Farm Steadings located in Balfarg which has turned into luxury housing and a Farm house located next door to the Gilvenbank hotel dating from around 17th century. Local myth has it the ghost of a farmer haunts the grounds round the farm house and hotel grounds at night. Local shops are situated 2 miles north at Pitcairn or 1 mile south at Cadham where there are local takeaways and bookmakers, and another pub called The Stanes (formerly Ring of Stanes). Buses run every 20 minutes to and from the shopping centre and Kirkcaldy (37), Cupar (66), Perth (36) all (Stagecoach fife) and 4 (Moffet and Williamson). A mobile Library and Ice Cream Vans are regular visitors to the area. You can also reach Edinburgh and Dundee within a 45 minute drive from Balfarg. Balfarg has numerous play parks but each of these are either vandalised or in need of repair. Each of the streets in the first estates are named after lochs in Scotland, for instance, Afric Road and Tummel Road named after Loch Afric and Loch Tummel . The nearest catchment schools for the area are Pitcoudie Primary and St Pauls Roman Catholic Primary. High Schools Glenwood and Glenrothes High and St Andrews RC in Kirkcaldy have students from the area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mercer, Roger J (1981). "The excavation of a late Neolithic henge-type enclosure at Balfarg, Markinch, Fife, Scotland, 1977-78". Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 111: 63–171. 
  2. ^ Long, D. J.; Tipping, R.; Holden, T. G.; Bunting, M. J.; Milburn, P. "The use of henbane (Hyoscyamus niger L.) as a hallucinogen at Neolithic 'ritual' sites: a re-evaluation". Antiquity 74 (283): 49–53. 
  3. ^ Barclay, Gordon J; Russell-White, Christopher J (1993). "Excavations in the ceremonial complex of the fourth to second millennium BC at Balfarg/Balbirnie, Glenrothes, Fife". Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 123: 43–210. 
  • Burl, A A Guide to the stone circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale, 1995

Coordinates: 56°12′54″N 3°09′33″W / 56.21504°N 3.15926°W / 56.21504; -3.15926