Cullerlie stone circle

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Cullerlie stone circle
The stone circle
Cullerlie stone circle is located in Aberdeen
Cullerlie stone circle
Shown within Aberdeen
LocationAberdeenshire, Scotland (grid reference NJ785043)
Coordinates57°07′44″N 2°21′24″W / 57.12892°N 2.35661°W / 57.12892; -2.35661Coordinates: 57°07′44″N 2°21′24″W / 57.12892°N 2.35661°W / 57.12892; -2.35661
TypeStone circle
PeriodsNeolithic / Bronze Age
Site notes
WebsiteHistoric Environment Scotland
Official name"Cullerlie stone circle", Standing Stones of Echt
Reference no.SM90088

Cullerlie stone circle, also known as the Standing Stones of Echt,[1] is a small stone circle situated near Echt, Aberdeenshire. It consists of eight irregular stones of red granite arranged at approximately equal intervals to form a circle of 10.2 m (33 ft) diameter, enclosing the same number of small cairns. The cairns are characterised by outer kerbs or rings of stones, with a double ring surrounding the central cairn and a single ring in the others. All but one of the cairns have eleven ringstones, with the last having nine. The whole circle sits on a patch of gravel which forms the end of a low gravel ridge linking the site with Leuchar Moss.[1][2] It is regarded as "a later development from the recumbent stone circle",[3] though its layout with kerbed cairns within the circle makes it unique.[4]

Diagram of the layout of Cullerlie stone circle (Logan, 1820)

At the time that the circle was built in the second millennium BC, the surrounding landscape was characterised by wet bogs, and the stones were transported to the site from higher ground some distance away. The tallest of the stones marks the north side of the circle.[5] They vary in height from 1.09 m (3.6 ft) to 1.80 m (5.9 ft).[1] A 2004 survey of the site discovered that several of the stones had been carved with previously unnoticed cup marks.[3]

Excavations carried out in 1934 by H. E. Kilbride-Jones on behalf of the Ministry of Works,[1] showed that the circle was built in stages. The entire site had first been cleared, leveled and burned by setting fire to piles of willow twigs. Then came the outer stones, with their bases shaped into points to make them more stable in their gravel bed. They have been somewhat eroded over time by acidic peat eating away the lower portions of the stones. Oak and hazel were burned within the stone rings, leaving charcoal behind, and cremated human bones were deposited in the ashes within five of the rings. They were then filled with smaller stones to create the cairns visible today.[1][2]

The circle may once have had several companions. In 1820 James Logan wrote: "The small Circles contained in the larger present a curious singularity; and it is also remarkable that, at a short distance to the southwest, are nine others of similar dimensions."[6] However, when the site was excavated in 1934, no trace of these satellite circles could be found.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Cullerlie". Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b Burl, Aubrey (1995). A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany. Yale University Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-300-06331-8.
  3. ^ a b "Cullerlie Stone Circle". Aberdeenshire County Council. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2015. Internet Archive.
  4. ^ In the Shadow of Bennachie: A Field Archaeology of Donside, Aberdeenshire. Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 1 January 2007. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-903903-46-2.
  5. ^ Ritchie, Anna; Ritchie, James Neil Graham (1998). Scotland: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-19-288002-4.
  6. ^ Archaeologia: Or, Miscellaneous Tracts, Relating to Antiquity. Society of Antiquaries of London. Sold at the house of the Society of Antiquaries, in Chancery-Lane; and by Messieurs Whiston, White, Robson Baker and Leigh, and Brown. 1829. p. 411.