Aquhorthies Stone Circle lies scarcely more than 200 metres northwest from Old Bourtreebush stone circle, and is clearly visible from it. So, having visited the latter, a short walk to Aquhorties was a given.
This used to be a simple matter of following the field boundaries to the circle, then hopping across the dyke and a barbed wire fence that had seen better days. But in the past year, a brand new, very robust fence with four extremely taut barbed wires has been erected inside the field containing the circle, parallel with the old fence. The triple obstacle of dyke followed by two barbed wire fences will be daunting to many. So the best bet now is to make for the top of the field, where you find a convenient gate leading into the 'Aquhorties field', and follow the fence back to the circle, a detour of just a few minutes.
The first thing you notice about Aquhorties is that the entire edifice has been built atop a sizeable artificial platform. Aquhorties is an impressive RSC, the recumbent and one flanker still standing erect. The circle is highly complex, and consists of two concentric ring cairns which, despite robbing, can still be clearly traced: the recumbent setting stands between the two ring cairns.
You can read the fine detail (and there is quite a lot of it) on the Canmore website.
There's just so much here that's good -
- the extensive view taking in the sea
- the way the recumbent and surviving flanker fit together with near Inca-like precision
- the ring cairn, probably the best surviving example outside the restored Loanhead of Daviot
- the interesting way the recumbent is linked to the ring cairn and not the stone circle.
I used to live a couple of hundred yards from both circles and over the years the view fron Aquhorthies changed from panoramic pasture,including a magnificent line of Beech trees to an Aberdeen overspill town.
In what used to be farmland to the north was a barely recognizable cairn which had been ruined by Spruce planting,the area was called Craighed.
A year or so ago I went back to visit some memories and found , in the middle of Badentoy Industrial Estate a 're-created Stone Circle', courtesy of the developer. It had a flower bed built in! A shame they didn't leave it to go back to the land.
I looked for the circle that used to be near a farm to the north without luck.Is it still there?
Recommendation is a booklet published mid '70s by the Town Council.Its called something like Ancient Sites in Grampian and is the result of a survey carried out of all stones and circles in the area.
PS.The area around Aquorthies used to be a prolific mushroom area,massive puffballs and beacoup Chanterel
Auchquhorthies is a vast circle set on a low hill. The shoulder-to-shoulderness of these stones coupled with the wildly uneven rocky ground inside the circle tell immediately of the savage tinkering that's gone on here. As at Craighead a mile or so away, some stones aren't edge-on aligned in the circle, and the recumbent and one remaining flanker face due south, not south-west. I can't get a handle on this place at all, it's all so higgledy-piggledy. The constant whoosh and roar of the A90 dual carriageway just to the east isn't helping, either. The remains of Auld Bourtreebush lie just beyond, readily visible only 300 metres away, but there's a crop field between us and there and we're on our way home and running late.
A. L. Lewis quotes from a letter "from the Reverend Dr. James Garden, Professor of Theology in the King's College of Aberdeen, to --- Aubrey, Esquire."
Yours dated at London, April 9th, 1692, came to my hands about ten days after..
What the Lord Yester and Sir Robert Morray told you long ago is true, viz., that in the north parts of this kingdom many monuments of the nature and fashion described by you are yet extant. They consist of tall, big, unpolished stones set upon end and placed circularly, not contiguous together but at some distances; the obscurer sort (which are the more numerous) have but one circle of stones standing at equal distances; others towards the south or south-east have a larger broad stone standing on edge, which fills up the whole space between two of those stones that stand on end, and is called by the vulgar the altar stone...
[..] Two of the largest and most remarkable of these monuments that ever I saw are yet to be seen at a place called Auchincorthie. [..] Being lately at Auchincorthie, I was told that a poor man who lives there having taken a stone away from one of the neighbouring monuments above described and put it into his hearth was, by his own relation, troubled with a deal of noise and din about his house in the night time until he carried back the stone unto the place where he found it.
[..] Some of them are called chapels... others are called temples... and those two [described] are called by the people that live near by 'Law Stones,' for what reason I know not, and 'Temple Stones.' They have a tradition that the pagan priests of old dwelt in that place, Auchincorthie, and there are yet to be seen at a little distance from one of the monuments standing there the foundations of an old house which is said to have been their Teind Barn; they report likewise that the priests caused earth to be brought from other adjacent places upon people's backs to Auchincorthie for making the soil thereof deeper, which is given for the reason why this parcel of land, though surrounded with heath and moss on all sides is better and more fertile than other places thereabouts*..
"*This tradition, which seems rather absurd at first sight, may have arisen from the custom which we know to have prevailed of bringing earth and stones from a distance to form special parts of tumuli and circles. -- A.L.L."
From p 49-51 of
Stone Circles Near Aberdeen
A. L. Lewis
The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 17. (1888), pp. 44-57.
"Also in this shire (Mernis) are to be seen two large and remarkable Monuments of Antiquity, at a place called Auchinoctie, five miles from Aberdeen. One of these, is two Circles of Stones, the outward Circle consisting of thirteen great ones (besides two that are fallen, and the broad-stone towards the south,) about three yards high above-ground, and between seven and eight paces distant from the another; the Diameter of which is twenty four large paces. The inward Circle is about three paces distant from the other, and the stones thereof three foot high above-ground.
Towards the East from this Monument, at twenty six paces is a large stone, fast in the ground and level with it, wherein is a cavity, partially natural and partially artificial, which (supposing this is a temple) may be imagined to have served for washing the Priests, the Sacrifices, and other things that were esteemed sacred among the Heathens.
The other Monument (which is full as large, than that already described, and distant from it about a bow-shot) consists of three circles, having the same common centre. The stones of the greatest Circle are about three yards above-ground, and those of the two lesser Circles three foot; the inner-most Circle being three paces diameter, and the stones standing close together. One of the stones of the largest Circle on the east side of the Monument, hath upon the top of it (which is narrow, and longer one way than the other) a hollowness about three inches deep, in the bottom whereof, is cut out a trough one inch deep and two inches broad (with another one crossing it) that runs along the whole length of the cavity, and down by the side of the stone a good way: so that what-ever liquor is poured into the cavity upon the top of the stone, doth presently run down the side of it by this trough; and it should seem that upon this stone they poured forth their Libamina or liquid sacrifices. There is also another stone in the same circle, and upon the same side of the Monument (standing nearest to the broad stone on edge, which looks towards the south) with a cavity in the upper end, cut after the fashion of the cavity in the top of the other stone already described, and a natural fissure, by which all the Liquor pouted into the cavity, runs out of it to the ground."
Camden's Britannia 1586
Translation and edition of 1722 by Gibson.