Leading conservation charity, the Scottish Wildlife Trust has made an archaeological find on its Balnaguard Glen reserve in Perthshire.
The discovery happened while volunteers were repairing field walls on the hillside and noticed one of the wall stones was shaped like a shallow basin – it was then identified as a possible Neolithic quern stone.
The shallow basin effect is created by years of rubbing grain with a heavy stone to make flour.
This type of quern carried on in use longer than the Neolithic period but were replaced by various kinds of rotary quern that were quicker and more effective. If Neolithic, the quern is approximately 6,000 years old and is good evidence that people were farming and living on the hill.
It adds to the existing picture of prehistoric settlement as evidenced by field systems, roundhouses, rock art and burial mounds on or near the hill.
Like this example, querns are often found broken – but the other half may still be in the wall.
Perthshire Ranger for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Emma Rawling, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust knew the Balnaguard hillside was rich in natural and human history, with evidence of human impact spanning remote prehistory in the area.
“However, what is great about this find is that it happened while some of our dedicated volunteers were out doing repair work.
“Not only have they made an impact for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, but also an impact on our understanding of the history of the site.”
History Officer for Perth Museum & Art Gallery, Mark Hall, said: “I was delighted to come out and identify the stone.
“We are more than happy to give it a home in the Museum, after clearance with Scottish Treasure Trove.
“There its long-term future as part of the collections is assured and it can help to tell the story of Perthshire folk, through research, interpretation and display.”