A housing estate on the north east edge of Glenrothes is the unexpected home to Balfarg Henge, a ritual site dating back over six thousand years enclosed by a circular ditch 60m in diameter. The site was excavated in late 1970s, when the housing which surrounds it was being built, and as a result the plan of the estate was changed to use the henge site as its central focus. The effect is unexpected but extremely attractive: and having a 6000 year old monument on your doorstep must provide an interesting talking point!
Activity around the henge site started some time before 4000BC when pits were dug in which broken pottery was placed. More pits appear to have been dug around 3000BC, and these were filled with more broken pottery, though of a different type known as "grooved ware", plus burnt wood and bone. This may indicated the area was used at this time for cremations.
Some time later the whole area was redeveloped into a henge. A 60m diameter circular ditch was dug, with the earth piled outside it to form a large embankment obscuring the view of the inside of the henge from the surrounding area. Access was over a causeway crossing the west side of the ditch.
The first structure to be erected within the henge was a circle of 16 massive timber posts, each possibly up to 4m tall, with an "entrance" formed by two more posts. The locations of these prehistoric posts are today shown by the presence of more modest posts placed here after the site was excavated. Later, the circle of wooden posts was replaced by a circle of standing stones: or possibly by two concentric circles of stones. Only two of the stones from this phase survive today, one part of an outer ring or entranceway, the other apparently marking the line of the causeway over the ditch.
Some time around 2000BC, the final phase of activity on the site was the burial in a grave in the centre of the circle of a young male aged about 20. His burial was capped by a two tonne flat piece of rock, which can be seen in place today. When the grave was excavated the body was found to have been buried with an unusual beaker with a handle and a flint knife. The nearby stone circle at Balbirnie may have been erected at about the same time.
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