Scheduled Monument

East Aquhorthies, stone circleSM90126

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Prehistoric ritual and funerary: stone circle or ring
Local Authority
NJ 73233 20797
373233, 820797


The monument comprises a recumbent stone circle of prehistoric date. The monument was first scheduled in 1925, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this. East Aquhorthies (previously known as Easter Aquhorthies) stone circle is in the care of the Scottish Ministers.

The monument lies in arable farmland at around 175m OD, some 300m NW of East Aquhorthies. It comprises a circle of 11 erect stones, with a diameter of about 20m. The erect stones vary in height, ranging from about 1m to about 2.5m high. At the SW of the circle is a large recumbent stone, about 4m long. It is flanked closely by two upright stones which form part of the circle. The western flanker has four cup marks.

Immediately to the inside of the recumbent stone, set at right angles to the circumference of the circle, there are three further stone slabs. A slightly raised area at the centre of the stone circle indicates the probable presence of a central ring cairn. The stone wall around the perimeter of the stone circle is almost certainly a later feature, although it is shown on the OS First Edition map (dating from 1869-70).

Stone circles of this type are known as recumbent stone circles and have a distribution concentrated in Grampian. They are characteristic of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (around 2000-1500 BC). Their exact function remains unclear, but they were undoubtedly used for ritual and ceremonial purposes. Recumbent stone circles often have a central ring cairn.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The area to be scheduled corresponds exactly to the area in the guardianship of Scottish Ministers. It has maximum dimensions of 26m NW to SE by 26m transversely.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of its potential to contribute to our understanding of prehistoric ritual practices. The importance of the site is reflected in it being chosen as a property in care.



RCAHMS records the monument as NJ 72 SW 12.


Burl, H. A. W. (1973) 'The recumbent stone circles of North-East Scotland', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 102, 59, 60, 63, 64, 65, 78.

Coles, F. R. (1901) 'Report on the stone circles of the North-East of Scotland, Inverurie District, obtained under the Gunning Fellowship, with measured plans and drawings', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 35, 225-9, Fig. 35.

Shepherd, I. (1986) Exploring Scotland's Heritage, Grampian. HMSO. Edinburgh.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Easter Aquhorthies Stone Circle

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About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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