Native Woodland, a company from Edinburgh, want to develop a natural burial ground at Cothiemuir Hill - within 15 yards of the scheduled ancient monument. They have not yet received planning permission for the scheme, but it's provoked an backlash from local people, who are forming an action group... continues...
I've deleted my previous images of Cothiemuir... they told me little about what it is to be here. An irony, perhaps, since the visitor - nay, the honoured guest - assumes this woodland clearing is merely the environment chosen for this shattered RSC's retirement.... and far removed from that of its 'working life'. Yeah, trees and a'gazing at Madame de la Luna are mutually exclusive, are they not?
Needless to say Cothiemuir didn't want to be photographed today. Far too much light contrast prevalent for this amateur. So I tried to capture the mood instead... something as nebulous as the clouds which manifestly refuse to make an appearance in the sky today.... then gave up and simply did as I was bid by the vibe. Lie back in the long grass and.... do nothing. Much to the apparent bemusement of a lizard basking upon one of the shattered, sun drenched orthostats. Yeah, he/she soon sussed I was there for reasons other than obtaining a rather small handbag. I mean 'man bag'. To be honest I don't know what I mean... Cothiemuir Wood is enchanting this late afternoon and rational thought seems, well, irrational, I guess. So much so that my recent decision to head towards Strathpepper tomorrow is discarded. Why not Schiehallion? Er, yeah. Why not?
One middle-aged woman walking her dog wanders through the circle... other than that I'm left to ponder the relationship the frankly magnificent recumbent and flankers have with the light that plays upon this corner of Aberdeenshire today. With utter wonder. In fact so fine, so beguiling is the atmosphere that it is easy to forget that this was a deadly serious structure. Somebody was interned within the central cist. No messing, this was - hey, is - for real. No Damien Hirst bollocks. Yet there is no feeling of foreboding. No shadow of retribution hangs over the traveller penetrating the sacred enclosure like the proverbial 'Sword of Damocles'. Just the feeling that there are few places I'd rather be right now. Cothiemuir may be 'camera shy', but it's certainly no Garbo. Oh no.
So... I wouldn't say Cothiemuir Wood is Aberdeenshire's finest stone circle. But I've yet to find another that I rather spend a few hours at, you know?
First time visit to Cothiemuir Wood, I have no idea why I didn't come before.
Walking up from the small car park from the burial ground it's only a couple of hundred yards along a forest path, yet totally isolated. The wood was green, but because the circle is treeless the frost had settled, which meant that with the early morning sun it was glowing white in a sea of green. My meagre snaps didn't come close to capturing it.
Too cold to linger long, there is plenty to see and the site is reminiscent of Loudon Wood and Tyrebagger - not restored, but enough left to see and an overwhelming sense of the ancient.
Don't worry about the burial ground either - it's well away and from what I can see will only enhance the nearby area and keep it green & open. Plus it's small car park make it even easier to access the circle. Drive on up and follow the route on the sign.
Set in an Arcadian woodland glade, this is a monstrous site! The flankers are incredibly tall and pointy in opposing ways but made to seem small by the huge bulk of the recumbent stone, which is round and streamlined like a whale. With insects whirring and the smell of hot pine and warm forest this was a Loved it!
The woodland is now being used a natural burial ground, with plots for cremations in the wood (though not within a certain distance of the stones) and plots for whole body burials at the edge of the wood. I can't think of a more appropriate resting place.
This has to have the most beautifully proportioned recumbent and flankers of all the RSCs.
The flankers (pushing 3m) are amongst the tallest and the recumbent is over 4m long. Together they make a wonderful composition - especially given the bulging shape of the recumbent.
It would be great to see them against the horizon but, sadly, the trees get in the way.
The recumbent has four cupmarks.
Enough circle stones survive to give the line of the circle. The recumbent and flankers are way off this circle line suggesting that they may have been built first using a wider community effort leaving the local community to add the smaller circle stones. Other circles eg Loanhead of Daviot exhibit a similar feature.
Access. Just to add to the previous comments, another way in is from the most southerly part of the wood. Vehicle tracks from there lead straight to the circle. No fences, gates etc.
A few days after the midsummer solstice and my first visit to this magickal site. Coloured chalk symbols on the flankers and on several other of these seven upright stones. Some may object to this, but for me it enhanced a remarkable place and as long as it's subtle, then the rain will wash all away soon enough.
we were out at cothiemuir wood at the weekend. what a wonderful place. deep, thick fog blowing amongst the trees added to the whole atomephere.
this is an observation and question. there seemed to have been quite a bit of work having gone in and around the site. all the small treelings have been chopped, the area between the kist and recumbant has0 .0.be0.e00.n 0..0.dug up and the sods replced, and the whole area looked like it had been cleared quite recntly (3-6months?) i don't think this was just the sparse time of year (march), though i could be wrong. maybe someone had been survaying it? does anyone know of anything that's gone on there recently?
This is very near to Old Keig and makes a special ending to a day out. The circle is easy to locate - assuming you have an OS map that is- simply park on the forest track at the first "crossroads" and head north into the field, going along the wall west - then keep going straight ahead thru the trees til you come upon the circle. A wonderful place - the stones of an impressive size and a huge recumbent which is almost cylindrical in shape. The trees/bushes/other foliage all around add to the magical feel - you almost expect to see fauns and satyrs coming out of the trees. Birdsong, nature at her most tranquil...I sat near the kist for a while and played a bit of Pink Lady Lemonade by AMT - heaven!!
Finding this circle is pretty easy despite the lack of any path and its being surrounded with a thick wood of pine trees; it's a crest-of-hill circle, so keep heading uphill from whatever direction you come in, and you'll come to the clearing at the top.
The extraordinary thing about Cothiemuir Wood that makes it an essential visit is the shape of the flankers. They're two opposed wedges, one pointing up and one pointing down, with an elliptical recumbent in between. They look like the buttons for a massive megalithic lift (megaliftic?), as if you could press one or the other to go up or down, and the words 'lift coming' would illuminate on the recumbent. The flankers have clearly been tooled with a lot of graft to get them looking this way. Three other stones stand, others lie around where they fell, and there's an intact stone kist at the centre.
To the north of the stones there's only a few trees before recent felling clears the view. Not quite enough to actually see the landscape, but - again, if the trees weren't here - we would definitely see Druidstones a mile or so away. To the north-east we'd see Corrie Hill (clearly the same root word at Cothie-muir, as well as Correen Hills, Corrstones, etc).
Mercifully, despite the dense planting of these woods, the precinct of this large circle has been left clear. If the trees weren't all round the edge this circle would look west to The Barmkyn, though a south-eastern promontory of The Barmkyn would, I think, make Old Keig circle out of sight. Perhaps my mapreading and calculations are wrong and it'd be mindblowingly in sight.
The Barmkyn is, by implication, a sacred hill; it's also clearly the same name as Barmekin Hill away to the south-east, the hill that bears down on Sunhoney circle. Both hills are more or less the same size and shape. I have no idea what the root word of their names means and would be grateful if anyone could shed some light on this. Is it to do with the fact that both hills had ancient forts on top? Or is that fact a sign, as Julian Cope suggests, of earlier reverence as sacred hills and the name is to do with that?
Situated near to several other sites, this is a must-see mofo of a circle. Walking up through the tightly-packed conifers, I got the feeling the forest was imposed on this landscape, not invited, and certainly not inviting me to walk through it. The most oppressive forest i've experienced in all my wanderings by a long way. Just as I was going to give up, the tall flankers rear between the trees, almost the same colour but smooth and rounded. They are huge - and the recumbent is a massive length. the whole monument just shouts "take notice!", and that's what I did. Most of the stones are there, even the central cist, but the views ... no more, thanks to those trees. Even so, the peace in this clearing is palpable, even more so due to the surrounding, brooding forest. A stunner.
Unlike many of the circles, this one, for some reason at present unknown to me, enjoys an extended reputation and is the centre of attraction to large numbers of the residents in the locality on a certain day or days in autumn.
Extremely vague, it could be anything. But it seems now is the season to visit. From Fred Coles' report on the stone circles of the NE of Scotland, in PSAS v35 (1900-1).
"In the large and almost complete circle at Cothiemuir, in the parish of Keig, the recumbent stone is of peculiar rounded shape, and has numerous hollows upon its surface, caused by weathering. Two of these on the outside, rather larger than their fellows, are known as the " Devil's Hoofmarks," their shape resembling the mark of a cloven hoof."
From: Ritchie, J., Folklore of Aberdeenshire Stone Circles, in Proc. Soc. Ant. of Scotland, LX, 1926, pp304-313.
Cothiemuir Hill natural burial ground is located on the Forbes Estate in rural Aberdeenshire and is rich in wildlife, history and heritage.
Lying at the western end of the Lord Throat's road, the ancient wooded hill rises from verdant land, through a belt of deciduous mixed woodland including Scots Pine, to a Neolithic stone circle that crowns it crest. Flanking the hill, beneath the slopes of Bennachie, newly planted trees shelter the burial glades. here, plots for natural burial or the internment of ashes can be reserved, giving mourners the space to connect with nature, and more importantly the people buried there.
From the pamphlet advertising natural burials.
(also a couple of nice photos of the stone circle)
Interesting chronology point following Bradley's recent excavations. Revised from Canmore.
"... three small trenches were excavated at the Cothiemuir Wood stone circle, Donside. The trenches were designed to assess the structural sequence of the monument....
A low cairn, or platform of rubble, was constructed on a flat hilltop, which may have been scarped level. The platform was open at the centre and revetted on the exterior with an exterior buttress of rubble, and on the interior by a bank of massive boulders.
There may have been a cist in the middle of the site where the filling of an unrecorded excavation contains a number of burnt stones.
The recumbent stone circle was a later addition to the monument and the sockets of two of the monoliths could be seen to cut through the structure of the cairn...
The sequence is similar to that observed at Tomnaverie."