Aberdeenshire HER - NJ71NE0003 - BROOMEND OF CRICHIE

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Main Details

Primary ReferenceNJ71NE0003
NRHE Card No.NJ71NE6
NRHE Numlink 18621
HES SM No. 18
Site Form Standing Structure
Site Condition Incomplete
Details Remains of a Class II henge consisting of a flat area surrounded by a ditch within an encircling bank. The ditch is crossed north and south by earthen embankments. Within the ditch stood a concentric circle of six stones with cremation burials at the bases. Other cremations and urns were found within the circle. There are now two stones and a Class I Pictish symbol stone (NJ71NE0005). Excavation carried out in 1855 by Dalrymple who found three separate deposits in front of the northwest stone: a decorated sandstone battle axe, a small circular cist and a cordoned urn. In the centre, burnt bones overlay a conical pit within which was a cist containing both inhumation and cremation. In 2001, a series of geophysical surveys and small scale trial excavation was undertaken by R. Bradley. An area to the south of the henge, measuring 120 x 60m, was surveyed using magnetometry. A series of anomalies were recorded including the sites of possible stone holes of the avenue. The henge was surveyed using resistivity at a spacing of 25cm. No anomalies that could represent a timber or stone circle were observed. Two trenches were excavated: Trench 1 (2 x 2m) was excavated on the south side of the remaining avenue monolith in order to establish the nature of its socket. The base of the stone itself appeared to be flat, and the whole monolith had been set into a relatively shallow socket. No artefacts were recovered from this trench. Trench 2 (3 x 3m) was excavated about 30m south of the henge, around the central point of a magnetic anomaly. This proved to be a stone socket similar in nature to that recorded in Trench 1: shallow with steeply cut sides and flat-bottomed. A large piece of stone was recovered from below the turf that may be part of a broken monolith, and a retouched flint blade came from the base of the plough soil. R. Bradley carried out three seasons of excavation at the site between 2005 and 2007. The 2005 and 2006 excavations revealed that the henge was more irregular than the 19th century site plan suggested - the interior is oval, not circular, measuring circa 16 x 21m. The perimeter ditch was over 5m wide and 2-3m deep. It was accompanied by an external bank which must have been unusually high and narrow. The earthwork would have screened most of the interior from anyone outside it. The ditch was of a single phase and cut steeply into the natural gravel. It is clear that the entire earthwork was unstable and that the bank had collapsed soon after it had been built. No artefacts were associated with the earthwork, but charcoal found on the surface of the buried soil should provide a terminus post quem for its construction. The excavations also located the positions of four stone sockets, three of which were completely excavated. The stone settings represent an arc of monoliths spaced at roughly equal intervals, with two large portal stones to their north. Remains of cremation burials, in the form of cremated bone, were also found within the area contained by the monoliths, along with the remains of four urned cremations. A final season of excavation under R. Bradley (undertaken as part of Northern Scottish Henges Project) was carried out in September-October 2007, and investigated an area immediately outside the south entrance. It identified the position of one stone socket, which probably belonged to the southern avenue of the monument complex, and which confirms the course of the avenue postulated by James Ritchie in the 1920s. Away from the monument were occasional postholes and a single pit, all without associated artefacts. Immediately outside the entrance was an almost circular setting of post pits circa 8.5m in diameter. No artefacts were found but charcoal samples associated with the post pipes will be submitted for radiocarbon dating. The five key observations which resulted from the 2005-7 programme of excavation are: (1) the earthwork of the henge has a different orientation from the stone setting inside it, (2) all the finds of artefacts and cremated bone are associated with the stone settings and none is directly associated with the structural features of the henge or with the timber structures found outside it, (3) the shaft grave excavated by Dalrymple in 1855 is offset from the centre of the stone setting, but is located in the middle of the henge on the axis leading between its entrances, (4) the henge seems to have been associated with a line of massive posts leading between the entrances and extending around the eastern edge of the shaft grave, quite distinct from the orientation of the stone setting, (5) the timber setting outside the southern entrance is located on the long axis of the henge monument. Its position does not seem to respect that of the internal stone setting and impinges on the course of the southern avenue.
Last Update01/03/2024
Updated Bycpalmer
Date of Compilation04/09/1980

Google Map for NJ71NE0003

National Grid Reference: NJ 7794 1961

Event Details

Event DateEvent TypeOASIS ID
1855 Excavation
2005 Excavation
2006 Excavation
2007 Excavation
2001 Geophysical Survey
2001 Excavation
2012 Field Observation

Excavations and Surveys

Artefact and Ecofact

Date MDate YArtefact TypeFinderRecovery MethodConditionStorage LocationAccess No.
111855 STONE HAMMER CED Excavation National Museum of Scotland  
111855 URN CED Excavation  


Ecofact Notes

Monument Types

Monument Type 1Monument Type 2Monument Type 3OrderProbability