The eastern edge of the centre of Glenrothes is defined by the line of the main A92 road. East of this road in northern Glenrothes is Balbirnie Park. This became home in the 1600s to Balbirnie House, which was remodelled in the years around 1780 and converted into a hotel in 1989.
Parts of the park were later mined for coal, and in more recent times it has become home to a golf course and a new housing estate built next to the A92 at the north end of the park. Residents of the new housing have an interesting neighbour, the Balbirnie Stone Circle. This stands in a slight valley at the end of a path leading to Balbirnie House and once formed part of the same ancient landscape as Balfarg Henge, now itself surrounded by a housing estate on the other side of the A92.
Balbirnie Stone Circle comprises eight stones in a partial circle some 15m in diameter, with gaps on the south side where two more might be expected to have stood. In the centre of the circle is a roughly square shaped feature comprising low kerb stones filled in by flat lying paving stones. A little to the north of this are two cists, or stone lined burial plots. On the inside face of one of the stones forming one of the cists are an impressive collection of ancient cup and ring marks.
The circle was probably erected some time in the years before 2000BC. Some time later a pit was dug in its centre, for unknown purposes, and a number of smaller pits were dug in which kist burials were placed. The last phase of activity covered the site with a cairn of stones up to a height of 0.5m in the centre.
Over the millennia that followed the site was disturbed on a number of occasions, partly by the growth of trees and partly by the actions of man. Some of the site was excavation in the 1880s, and then a complete excavation took place in 1970, in advance of a major widening of the A92. Amongst the objects found was a complete food container and a flint knife as well as a jet button and jet beads. There was also evidence of up to 16 cremation burials on the site.
As the plans for the widened road took it right through the site of the Balbirnie Stone Circle, once the excavation was complete the elements of the circle were moved 125m to the south east of its original site and re-erected, which is where you find it today. The central feature, whose purpose is unknown, had a paved based added during the relocation. It is worth mentioning that an upright stone on the west side of the circle carries an intriguing pattern that looks very like the carving of a bull, albeit without a head. This has never been mentioned by those who have intensively studied this circle in the past, so we have to assume it is simply the product of an overactive imagination on our part.
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Grid Ref: NO 286 030