The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Old Keig

Stone Circle


(notes from the recumbent stone, 2 July 00)

Yet again a slender antiquarian copse leads from the road to the stones, like at New Craig, Dunnydeer and others. These copses appear to be of roughly the same age, too. Who planted them? They seem deliberately planted to protect the stones from farmers like the trees planted on Wiltshire hilltop barrows. As if to prove it, here at Old Keig an arc extends back from the recumbent and flankers in a good approximation of the position of the circle, and no tree stands within the precinct. On the south side there's a gap of forty or fifty metres so the south-western view is unobscured, save for a single stout tree that protects the recumbent from close-up farming! (The present farmer's thrown field clearance boulders between the tree and the standers, a metre from the recumbent).

These copses have the feel of a BBC Sunday evening TV drama Avalonian/Narnia enchanted grove. The excited and expectant roar of thousands of buzzing insects up in the canopy of the trees fed this enchantment as we approached.

And there they stood, the epically proportioned stones. As at Dunnydeer, there's only the recumbent and flankers. And as at Dunnydeer, it's all that's needed to generate a real sense of the scale of this massive circle, and a very potent sense of place. This huge recumbent stone feels so serene, centre of a wide and peaceful 270 degree landscape with the peaks of Bennachie poking up at the north-east and a fort-topped (therefore anciently sacred?) hill of The Barmkyn immediately behind.

We're slowly discovering that the Modern Antiquarian's directions of 'requires an OS map' can mean 'not on a path'. Initially I envisioned that line as meaning three-mile slogs across hill and bog, but it's definitely been used liberally. Old Keig certainly doesn't need one at all. From the B992 take the western road out of Keig, there's a farm on your left after a mile, then 400 metres later a thin line of trees on your left, perpendicular to the road. The stones are 200 metres down from the road in those trees.

Also, The Modern Antiquarian describes as subjective a thing as atmosphere at a site in such 'factual' terms, and I've been sceptical; surely a lot of it's to do with the state of the observer, what you already know/don't know of the area and the history, the weather, the season, the surrounding crops, etc. And yet I've found it to be invariably correct. At Old Keig 'the peace overlooking the valley is as though the world has long stopped,' is precisely and completely right.
Posted by Merrick
7th August 2000ce

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