The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Burial Chamber


Fetteresso is the site of a Bronze Age cairn near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Numerous sepulchral urns have been recovered from the tomb. Evidence of a prehistoric cursus also has been discovered on the site from aerial photography. The site has a further burial discovery from the Early Middle Ages, and has moreover been developed by a Late Middle Ages monument, Fetteresso Castle.

AREA PREHISTORY The local area contains considerable Neolithic and Bronze Age history including standing stones at Kempstone Hill, Raedykes and locations further north along the Causey Mounth. Bronze Age finds have been also been made at Cantlayhills, (Society) Ury and Spurryhillock It is not unlikely that the Elsick Mounth ancient trackway leading north was an early connection between this locus and the important Mesolithic and Neolithic settlements (Balbridie, Ardlair, Bucharn) along the southern Deeside. The Elsick Mounth was certainly a major route between these north-south destinations during conflicts between the Romans and Caladonians in the first century AD. (Hogan)

SITE DETAILS Fetteresso has yielded a number of urns from its Bronze Age cairn, but whether they were principally for cinerary or food vessels is not clear. (Proceedings) A sizable flat granitic stone overlay the pit itself (RCAHMS) One of the most ornate finds is a cordoned urn found in the top of a glacial mound: "inverted; decorated on its upper cordon with horizontal lines and large triangles; the inner rim also evinced decoration. The contents of this cordoned urn contained elements of cremated bone, but no ashes. A stone pavement was discovered near the cairn, on which, from the residue of ashes, it has been suggested that bodies had been burnt.

In the year 2000 an aerial photograph revealed a cropmark of a possible ring-ditch not far from the Bronze Age cist (Air photography). The cursus clearly lay between two concentric arcs that run along the apex of a low lying ridge on a shelf at an altitude of 55 metres. (Greig) Neolithic cursi in Britain may have been used for ceremonial competitions.

Nearby the Bronze Age cairn has been discovered a later (probably Iron Age) tomb which has long been called Malcolm's Mount, after the presumed burial of Malcolm I; although this find is clearly an ancient site, its provenance is disputed regarding the relationship to Malcolm.

ENVIRONMENT Situated near the perennial clear flowing Carron Water with its freshwater fishery and at the southern edge of the primeval Fetteresso Forest, this site's appeal to prehistoric peoples is transparent. It is also proximate to the North Sea coastline and natural harbour at Stonehaven, for exploitation of marine resources and sea access; moreover, the slight buffering distance from the coast inhibits unwanted aspects of sea influence including saline mist and some of the ever-present local haar. Fetteresso is at an unusual position immediately south of the Highland Boundary Fault. As such it is within the fertile soils south of the Fault, but near to the coveted granitic stones north of the Fault.

* Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy (1845) ''The New Statistical Account of Scotland'', W. Blackwood and Sons publisher
* C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Elsick Mounth'', The Megalithic Portal
* Proceedings of the Society.of Antiquaries.of Scotland. vi, 88; ''Scotland before the Scots'', 108
* RCAHMS, Royal Commission of Archaeological and Historical Monuments of Scotland website (2007)
* Air Photography (2000) Aerial reconnaissance AAS/00/08/CT/73-80, flown 16 June, 2000
* M. Greig, (2000 ) ''Sites recorded during summer aerial reconnaissance, Aberdeenshire'',Discovery Excav Scot, 1, 2000, 7
C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
2nd February 2008ce
Edited 2nd February 2008ce

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