An ancient stone circle which has remained unknown to archaeologists for around 5,000 years has been officially recognised.
Recumbent stone circles were constructed around 3,500-4,500 years ago and are unique to the northeast of Scotland.
And now, thanks to a woman whose family have farmed in the area for generations, a stone structure has been found on a farm in Aberdeenshire.
The stone circle, in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie, has been respected by those who have farmed the area over the years, but it was unknown to archaeologists until now.
The site has now been recorded after it was reported to Aberdeenshire Council’s archaeology service by Fiona Bain.
Experts from the local authority and Historic Environment Scotland have now visited the site and believe the stone circle is a slightly unusual example of its kind.
Neil Ackerman, historic environment record assistant at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “This amazing new site adds to our knowledge of these unique monuments and of the prehistoric archaeology of the area.
“It is rare for these sites to go unidentified for so long, especially in such a good condition.
“To be able to add a site like this to the record caps off what has been a fantastic year for archaeology in north-east Scotland.”
Adam Welfare, of Historic Environment Scotland, says the circle made up of ten stones was smaller in diameter than other similar examples.
He said: “In numbering ten stones it fits the average, but its diameter is about three metres smaller than any known hitherto and it is unusual in that all the stones are proportionately small.
“It is orientated SSW and enjoys a fine outlook in that direction, while the rich lichen cover on the stones is indicative of the ring’s antiquity.”
Such stone circles are defined by a large horizontal stone – the recumbent – flanked by two upright stones, which are usually placed to the south-east to south-west of the circle.
While recumbent stone circles are spread throughout the north east of Scotland it is rare to find a previously unrecorded one, especially in such a complete condition.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council says this newly-recognised stone circle will add to the understanding of this period of the prehistory of north-east Scotland and of these remarkable sites.
Moira Ingleby, chair of the Marr Area Committee at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “This newly recorded site highlights the internationally important archaeology we have within Aberdeenshire.
“Adding it to the record of known archaeological sites will add to the understanding of these fantastic monuments that are unique to the area.
“Its identification highlights the importance of having archaeologists based at the Council who are able to work within the community and pick up on this local knowledge.”
By Arthur Vundla