Scottish farmer admits ‘ancient’ stone circle actually built in 1990s

Historians believed structure dated back 3,500-4,500 years

Chiara Giordano
Monday 21 January 2019 16:24 GMT
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Archaeologists have had their celebrations cut short after it emerged an “ancient” stone circle was actually built by a farmer less than 30 years ago.

A landowner in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie, in Aberdeenshire, reported the find to historians in December, who began researching what they thought was a centuries-old recumbent stone circle.

But their excitement was cut short when the farm’s former owner contacted them to confess he built the stone circle as a replica in the mid-1990s.

Neil Ackerman, historic environment record assistant at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “It is obviously disappointing to learn of this development, but it also adds an interesting element to its story.

“That it so closely copies a regional monument type shows the local knowledge, appreciation and engagement with the archaeology of the region by the local community.

“I hope the stones continue to be used and enjoyed – while not ancient, it is still in a fantastic location and makes for a great feature in the landscape.”

Recumbent stone circles often date back 3,500-4,500 years and are unique to the northeast of Scotland.

Their defining feature is a large horizontal stone (the recumbent) flanked by two upright stones, usually situated between the southeast to southwest of the circle.

Stone circle in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie, in Aberdeenshire, was thought to be thousands of years old but a former farmer admitted he built the replica in the 1990s 

They are well known and spread throughout the northeast of Scotland, but it is rare to find a previously unrecorded one.

Mr Ackerman added: “These types of monument are notoriously difficult to date.

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“For this reason we include any modern replicas of ancient monuments in our records in case they are later misidentified.

“We always welcome reports of any new, modern reconstructions of ancient monuments, especially those built with the skill of this stone circle and that reference existing monument types.”

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