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Recumbent stone circles are amongst the oldest surviving structures in Scotland. They were built during the Bronze Age, roughly 4,000 years ago.

You may be familiar with stone circles – they are found in many places, from Stonehenge in Wiltshire to Callanish on the Isle of Lewis. However, recumbent stone circles are unique to Scotland’s north-east.

Stone circle at Whitehills

They get their name because one large stone in the circle is laid on its side, or is ‘recumbent’. We think ancient peoples might have used these circles to record the seasons or the passage of the sun and moon. They may have hosted funerary pyres or ceremonial bonfires. Whatever their purpose, they have fascinated people for generations.

The learning resource

We have created a learning resource and supporting loan box for teachers and youth group leaders, hoping to encourage people of all ages be inspired by these amazing Bronze Age structures and the people who built them. These resources are designed to help young people to learn about recumbent stone circles and the solar system as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.

This 50 page document aims to help teachers and youth group leaders explore the recumbent stone circles of Aberdeenshire.

It outlines the scope to study recumbent stone circles as a focus topic, or to support study of the Solar System, weather and climate change, mathematics or local environment and includes information about further reading and guides to more in depth activities.

Recumbent Stone Circles: a learning resource (PDF 2.5MB)

The recumbent stone circles loan box

We've also put together a loan box of reproduction artefacts and materials from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to accompany the learning resource. It includes objects such as replica axe heads, arrowheads and a bow drill, as well as examples of materials such as flint, stone, copper, tin, antlers and beeswax.

The loan box comes with notes describing each of the objects and can be loaned from our East Region office. Contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 03000676380 for further details.

This introduction video provides more details of what the box includes:

The loan box was launched at Whitehills stone circle during the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015, when pupils from several local primary schools got to enjoy the view!

Pupils viewing the eclipse at Whitehills stone circle in 2015

Visiting recumbent stone circles

Aberdeenshire Council have published a visitors guide to The Stone Circle Trail (PDF 9.7MB), ten of the best stone circles in the region including the stone circle at Clune Wood and Whitehills stone circle at Pitfitchie.

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