Top ten UK urban prehistory sites

01 January 2021
9-nilfanion-87326.jpg Carreg Coetan
You don't have always have to travel miles to discover a prehistoric site. Kenneth Brophy, senior lecturer in archaeology, University of Glasgow, presents his top ten prehistory sites found in urban locations.

1. The Calderstones, Liverpool

The monument was dismantled, moved and re-erected in a confused roadside arrangement in the 19thcentury, then moved again (twice) in the 1950s into a greenhouse, before going into storage in 2017 ahead of a grand re-erection beside Calderstones Mansion House.

2. Balfarg, Glenrothes, Fife

One of the largest henge monuments in Scotland and now, along with two standing stones and some cut-down telegraph poles, the reconstructed centrepiece of a 1980s housing estate. 

3. The Stone of Mannan, Clackmannan

A huge standing stone with a smaller stone fixed on top located beside a tollbooth, moved there in 1833 from a more rural location in Lookabootye Brae; it looks like a huge penis.

4. Ravenswood Avenue standing stone, Edinburgh

A standing stone that as recently as 1903 was surrounded by fields and grazing cattle but is now trapped in a cage on the pavement in a 1930s housing estate.

5. Sandy Road, Perth

This kerbed cairn was excavated in the 1960s, removed ahead of housing development, then reconstructed in its original location in the form of a garden landscaped stone circle in a cul de sac.

6. Huly Hill, Newbridge, Edinburgh

A landscaped barrow with three satellite standing stones situated beside a service station and major motorway intersection, and beneath the flightpath of Edinburgh Airport. 

7. King Arthur’s Round Table, Penrith

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Henge monument near Penrith that was drawn fancifully by Stukeley and then converted into a tea garden by the owner of the neighbouring Crown Inn in the 19th century.

8. The Dagon Stone, Darvel, Ayrshire

A weird stone topped with a stone ball; it has been moved at least three times since prehistory, was once covered in paint by Ludovic Mann and now sits across from a Chinese takeaway.

9. Carreg Coetan Arthur, Pembrokeshire

Portal dolmen situated amid a very middleclass bungaloid area of the village of Newport, overlooked by gardens and constantly monitored by men of a certain age mowing their lawns and washing their 4 × 4s.

10. The Cochno Stone, Clydebank

One of the largest rock art panels in Britain, painted in five colours by Ludovic Mann in 1937, then covered with dozens of scratched names like a huge stone visitor book, it was buried by the authorities in 1965 but never forgotten.

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Extract taken from The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland, edited by Andy Burnham. Published by Watkins Publishing

Read a review of the book.

(images: Carreg Coetan copyright Nilfanion; Dagon Stone copyright Rosser1954; Huly Hill copyright Kim Traynor)