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Cairnshee Woods


<b>Cairnshee Woods</b>Posted by drewbhoyImage © drew/amj
Nearest Town:Banchory (6km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   NO7404993707 / Sheets: 38, 45
Latitude:57° 2' 1.5" N
Longitude:   2° 25' 39.44" W

Added by C Michael Hogan

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<b>Cairnshee Woods</b>Posted by drewbhoy <b>Cairnshee Woods</b>Posted by drewbhoy <b>Cairnshee Woods</b>Posted by C Michael Hogan <b>Cairnshee Woods</b>Posted by C Michael Hogan


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Compared to Bucharn this place is a nightmare to find. Head east from the two Eslie's and turn north at the next tarred road. Travel for about a mile and stop at the first track on the eastern side.

From here I walked until the road ended at the forestry work site. This is where it gets interesting. The first part is fairly steep but mainly ok underfoot if the digger tracks are followed. Once they end keep going until another forestry road is reached. Almost directly in front is a path of sorts that has been battered thru the trees. These are terrible underfoot conditions. Even this ends and for the last few yards it's basically on your hands and knees. If lucky you'll have ended up in a clearing with the cairn sitting in it's midst.

The cairn, which is round in appearance, is about 23 meters wide and over 31/2 meters tall. On it's southern side there is an enclosure. It is an impressive site. Originally there would have been all round views but these have been replaced by mainly fir trees.

On leaving the site I looked for an easier route down, which was in a north westerly direction. This leads to the main forestry works road, today the road was a river, which eventually leads back to the tarred road.

Visited 28/07/09.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th July 2009ce
Edited 28th July 2009ce


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A bit more to Drew's story:
There died one hundred and fifteen years ago a Mr. Alexander Hogg of London, merchant, leaving among other benefactions to his native parish of Durris, Kincardineshire, ten shillings a year to the herds around the hill of Cairnshee (Fairies' Cairn) for the purpose of making a Midsummer bonfire, in remembrance of the fact that he as a boy herded cattle there. A further sum was left to provide barrels of ale, cheese, and bread for those who assemble to witness the celebration. This curious observance is duly followed every year, and forms one of the attractions of the district. As many as half a dozen musicians resort to the hill, and dancing is kept up till midnight or longer.

Can it be doubted that Mr. Hogg thus gave new life to an old custom which had been known to his boyhood? [*] Let us note some particulars that go to prove its connection with prehistoric times.

The fire must be lit on the twenty-fourth of June just as the last limb of the sun disappears beneath the horizon.
The height on which the fire is lit is the highest eminence in the district from which the beholders come, and thus the sun would be seen at the last possible moment.
The herds must, according to the conditions of the will, collect the fuel themselves, each bringing as many bundles as possible so that a large fire may result. As there are ten lads on the surrounding farms.. the pile is often of considerable dimensions.

The young men are in the habit of pushing each other through the smoke and flames. This may arise from a belief that the person so "passed" would be charmed against disease during the coming year. Some would see in the action an indication of early human sacrifice. [**] I have been at many 'herds' fires' (about ten I think) and have invariably seen it done. It is possible, however, that in this instance it is nothing but a display of animal spirits. But in any case I think there is enough evidence to show that the rite is a relic of pagan times...
* Possibly not. Victorians were even more desperate to find Traces of Our Pagan Past than we are.
** Some would see in the action an indication of a large number of pissed young men.
Nevertheless, it all sounds like a lot of fun and should be reinstated immediately.

From 'Midsummer Bonfires' by A. MacDonald, in Folklore, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Mar. 25, 1904), pp. 105-106
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th August 2010ce
Edited 11th August 2010ce

"A custom associated with the cairn in Cairnshee Wood ('cairnshee means cairn of the fairies'). Each midsummer's eve herdsmen set a huge bonfire to exorcise evil spirits and ensure the safety and prosperity of their flocks. In 1787, in remembrance of the ceremony during his childhood, Aleander Hog donated money to ensure the ritual continued. The spectators came from all over and consumed bread, cheese and ale. The custom finally lapsed in the 1930s."

Archibald Watt

The Highways and Byways Round Kincardine.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
19th December 2009ce
Edited 27th December 2009ce