15/01/2012 - Last RSC of a great day out. Parking is a bit tricky for this one. Space for a car at start of track to circle (NJ 9561 4704). We headed NE up the track to information board then SE through wood to circle. Aikey Brae is a must see. The size of the stones and setting get me every time. I love the way you emerge from the dark of wood onto the circle. Great view from here as well.
Aikey Brae ranks among the TOP5 RSC in Aberdeenshire for me. A splendid location, a huge recumbent, large stones (some fallen) and great views across the countryside. Even the track through a dense woods that leads to the circle is brilliant and mysterious.
In addition to a23's directions, there is now a offical sign at the start of the field track to the circle, as Aikey Brae is part of the "The Stone Circle" trail.
Fantastic RSC-is there any other kind? Although its pretty obvious that all megaliths are heavy, the first thing I thought on stepping out of the trees is 'Wow, this is big.' A real feeling of scale is given by this site, assisted by the fact that the remaining standing stones are all over 6 feet.
A real use of colour was again made here: the embanking stones being a mixture of pink & grey granite, the circle stones all grey. The recumbent, huge and pitted was obviously set in place 'just so'. It would have lain much easier rotated around 180 degrees, but the use of chocking stones to achieve a particular relationship with the horizon is very obvious.
a23's directions are spot on, and we should be thankful he suffered, so we don't have to ;-) I will just add that ACC have installed some 'Stone Circle' road signs to assist you as you get nearer.
As we parked it started to rain a few drops. But I was looking forward to this. The approach to it is marvellous, too. The overgrown track takes you up a hill, through a deep dark pine wood which softened the rain to mist and muffled our footfalls on the carpet of needles, then throws you out in the circle!
Wow! Wow! Damn the rain for coming now, for I would have liked to paint here, but at least I've seen it. The best bit is that thrillingly, the recumbent is a giant penis!
The rain was falling steadily. Dampened spirits? Not a chance. Cock on!
On the map, this site looks dead easy to find. Driving west from Mintlaw there's a large parking site at a quarry which looks the obvious route. Cut over the hillside, through virtually impenetrable firtrees, gorse,etc and you find...you're lost. Many scratches later go back to the car, drive on taking the next Left - you drive down almost to a farmstead. On your left is a small walled lane going towards a copse of trees. Park there, go up the lane and into the woods. A path marked by stones leads you to the other side of the trees whereupon you come across the wonderful , magical circle of Aikeybrae. There are 5 largish uprights and a giant, phallic looking recumbent. This place conjures an atmosphere of serenity and spellbinding - I'd love to visit late at night & see the site by moonlight.
There are other curious traditionary notices of the Rhymer in Aberdeenshire; one thus introduced in a View of the Diocese of Aberdeen, written about 1732.
' On Aiky brae here [in Old Deer parish] are certain stones called the Cummin's Craig, where 'tis said one of the Cummins, Earls of Buchan, by a fall from his horse at hunting, dashed out his brains. The prediction goes that this earl (who lived under Alexander III.) had called Thomas the Rhymer by the name of Thomas the Lyar, to show how much he slighted his predictions, whereupon that famous fortune-teller denounced his impending fate in these word, which, 'tis added, were all literally fulfilled:-
Tho' Thomas the Lyar thou call'st me,
A sooth tale I shall tell to thee:
Thy horse shall ride,
He shall stumble, and thou shalt fa',
Thy neck bane shall break in twa,
And dogs shall thy banes gnaw,
And, maugre all thy kin and thee,
Thy own belt thy bier shall be.'
So maybe not exactly the Aiky Brae stones. Though it seems to good a landmark to miss if you're going to dash your brains out. From p21 of 'Select Writings of Robert Chambers: popular rhymes of Scotland' 3rd edition, 1847. Online at Google Books.