We arived at the carpark and it was still blazing sunshine and blue skies. The walk up the circle is just lovely, and we mused on the joys of living in such a lush and wonderful place, and did some very amatuer birdspotting! Upon arrival, we were both stopped in our tracks by the colours before us. The stones were just shimmering and the different shades of red were breathtaking.
We spent a long time here, we just could not bring ourselves to leave. We lay on the grass in silence, wandered round gabbling away and gazed at Bennachie in the distance, just blown away by it. I had wanted to come here for such a long time but had also been wary of the fact it is such a showsite, with all that implies;I was worried it would be too clinical but - oh my - this place was just magnificent.
Wow it's been 9 years since I first visited this circle-Mr Cope has a lot to answer for!
On a whim I decided to re-visit this Sunday past to watch the sunrise over the circle. Like my experiences at Tyrebagger & Whitehills, even without a camera to watch the sky lighten, the sun rise and to see the light creep across the ground before hitting the stones is an amazing experience.
The light literally changes second by second, through a range of pinks, yellows and oranges and, like this morning, heavy overhead cloud only amplifies this. There was a window of around 20 minutes from sunrise until it disappeared above the grey clag but it was worth the 5:30 alarm.
As Gladman has mentioned, East Aquhorthies is a show site, and perhaps can variously be accused of being over-restored, over-manicured and occasionally over-visited. Some visits with 20 other people are wholly unmemorable.
But then, at other times, you fully appreciate the builders genius.
I visited Easter Aquhorthies on a still November evening. I had watched the sunset at Broomend and then drove in the twilight along the single track road from Inverurie.
I parked up in the carpark and walked along the track, the moon was quite high and was encircled by a huge ice halo. I could hear an owl screeching in the distance. It was one of those moments when you know something special was happening.
I sat in the circle and the place just seemed to wrap itself around me. I can't tell you how long I stayed there but it was a real wrench to walk away from the place.
This was my first visit to the circle and to see it in the moonlight was an unforgetable experience. I'm in love with this circle
Properly called Easter Aquhorthies, this was my first recumbent stone circle – and the one I had been most looking forward to seeing. Beautifully restored and presented and with stones sparkling in the light out of the greenest of landscapes, we spent three delightful hours here during which I got quite sunburned.
People came and went. Local dog walkers, casual visitors, a party of children, mountain bikers, joggers (one woman swore blind she has just seen a lynx or other large cat in the next field) and a friendly mature couple who knew about stones. We got chatting to them about Aubrey Burl and Julian Cope. The gentleman, who must have been well into his 70s who had met Cope at some talk or other commented on Cope's academic prowess despite his unusual and unique appearance!
Ah, but the stones! What a temple to the heavens! I was enchanted and reached for my paints. I started with a quick sketch, but moved on to a more considered and lengthy study.
As I approached, the thing that struck me most was the stones individual beauty – this wasn’t a group chosen for shape and size alone.
The first welcoming stone looks like it’s made out of dark pink sugar.
Then there’s the focal point: the mackerel-striped recumbent, the dark grey one beside with the white quartz lines, then a granular pink round boulder, the smooth pale uprights…
The size felt irrelevant, a collection of pebbles a thousandth of this size would be just as beautiful to me. Even now I am left with a persistent memory of the colours left by the stones and the landscape, something I usually only get after spending a day at the beach.
Over the back towards the black Mither Tap, I could hear the sound of rhythmic drumming (I think it was a pile-driver); this and the dark skies should have made the place threatening but I’m sorry it was just too beautiful.
Disabled access: The carpark has a gate to the path but this can be avoided by going around by the road. It’s a fair distance uphill to the site. I would say it’s 400m but it’s tarmac. I think it may be possible to get a car right up the hill lane, but not sure about the permission for this. Unfortunately when you get to the top, the remaining piece of the track is very rocky and there is a small kissing gate into the circle itself.
This site is now very well signposted from the main A96.
There is a car park at the bottom of the track that leads to the circle. The car park even now has a litterbin and info board. It's about 200m from the car park to the circle.
What still never fails to (happily) surprise me is the amount of people who visit ancient sites. At 9.30 am there was already a couple just returning from the circle - a slightly unlikely couple, dressed very smartly and driving a huge new 4x4. And then a horse rider was passing next to the circle, breaking in a young horse.
East Aquhorties is yet another fantastic place set in a marvellous surrounding. The 'modernisation' of the circle (the stone wall) isn't that bad and I really felt at home here.
I love this circle-a definite air of power still remains, and I found it harder to leave than I usually do. I was struck by an overwhelming urge to lay down in the circle, and when I did attempt to leave, it was like wading through treacle - an effect which ceased as soon as I got outside the stones.
This was, a few years ago now, my virgin site!What a great one to start at methinks.On a howler of a stormy day, after visiting the nearby Archaeolink centre, I craved to venture further back in time.The extreme weather suited the site:it felt "IN YOUR FACE!". Alive.....
My partner and I visited this site in summer 1993 - this was the first stone circle we both had been to.
We thought there might be ettiquette at these places - like hushed reverence or something - when we got there, there was an older couple lying down, snogging on the grass at the side of the circle. We looked about for a wee while then went back to the car and had our breakfast. We went back and the couple were away and we clambered about the stones, posing and taking photographs (I'll try and upload them soon - I like these photos cos I've got a full head of hair and a couple of buttocks less fat). We stayed there all morning - it was a fresh bright morning - I'll never forget the impression this place left on me.
We left and visited Culloden battlefield, later the same day (there was a mournful and haunting atmosphere here). The place was almost lost in a thick pea soup fog - couldn't have been more different from East Aquhorthies.
Amen to all of the above. Don't worry about the reconstructed nature of this site, it's too special for such things to detract from it. Event the dry stone wall gives a feeling of hengeness from inside. We had the circle to ourselves, although someone had visited recently, as a diferent flower had been left at each stone. It added to the feeling of a well loved circle in a beautiful location.
I visited East Aquhorthies in August and accept that it's tidied and spruce, but I didn't feel that it detracted from it being a good accessable RSC that gave me a very clear view of how an upstanding RSC would look like.
Being a Wessex lad I was intrigued by the obvious difference in form between stone circles as i know them and the RSC's. It seems hard to believe that they didn't also have different functions from each other. I did fall in love with the RSC's while sat here in the sun, with my back to Mithy Tap. Mithy Tap was clearly there and visable, but didn't seem to be on any obvious alignment to the Recumbant, so I had no impression of the circle and the hill being linked in this way.
RSC's for beginners, perfect for me and very pretty, when i later went to Whitehills, the 2 experiences complimented each other well.
Finely preserved circle, with, as Merrick suggested, a kind of odd feel in its positioning. Mither Tap looms to the west, but the circle seems to ignore it. Added to this is the cluster of modern trees that obscure the horizon frames by the recumbent and flankers. I loved the stone near the gate that looks like crystallised flesh!
This is the first Recumbent Stone Circle we visited, and with hindsight it's a good choice. Many of them have either lost a lot of the stones or the surroundings or the view, but this one has the lot.
The warm vibe of the site contrasted sharply with the icy evening wind, and in my crippled state I'm always a tad tired and slow, so the cold prevented us abiding by our impulse to stay for ages.
The monstrously sized recumbent stone is imposing to the uninitiated eye, but rather than the stones themselves, my attention was constantly drawn to the dominating shape of Mither Tap mountain. All around us on three sides were gentle fertile rolling downs, but the Mither gave such a startling contrast, all grey, huge and distant in a landscape otherwise green, close and intimate. This, Annwen noted, was the real genius of the siting here; to create a 'false horizon' when looking at the recumbent stone it needed to be looking up the hill and just before the crest, rather like driving up a hill can give the illusion that there's nothing beyond it and you're heading to a cliff edge. And Mither Tap is the only mountain to be clear beyond this place. Walk 100 metres west, even, and peaks next to Mither Tap are visible, but from East Aquhorthies stones it's the one and only.
Circles elsewhere tend to feel like the centre of a landscape. This one feels like it's at the very edge.
This was my first ever RSC visit ... working in Aberdeen for 4 weeks, I followed Julian's advice and started with the perfect show site to know what the monuments should look like. The first impression was of joy at the lovely colour co-ordination of the stones and the poise of the recumbent, but tempered by the overly manicured look - all freshly mown grass, perfect drystone walling, nicely painted iron fence etc. It is a beautiful, yet somehow empty feeling site that left me in a bit of a puzzle about RSC's, a feeling that was blown away over the hills by my next one - Tyrebagger ! As I left East Aquhorthies, wondering if all sites would be like this, an American and his small boy walked past. "Is this a landing site for spaceships"? asked the lad. "Hell, no" said dad, "it's a temple to the gods". Right on.