'Aberdeenshire' has so much to offer that even after four trips over the years I still regarded sites with 'only' recumbents and perhaps flankers as not worth the effort. Too much else to see. Before I came to Stonehead, that is.
Anyway, decided to stop off Dunnideer way and made the deceptively long walk to Whitebrow to find an empty plot where I assume the farm used to be?? Hmm - any ideas, or is it just me getting lost again? Entering Stonehead's field the size of the recumbent and particularly flankers is overwhelming - despite this, however, they paradoxically appear so fragile as to require tethering down to stop them floating off into space.... Perhaps this is just the ambience Stonehead creates, but there's no doubt this remnant [but what a remnant!] of an RSC is a piece of ancient art which evokes a power today's Turner Prize winners could never hope to match.
Dunnideer looms in the distance, with Dunnydeer Farm just down the road. This is a special place indeed and I feel a bit of a muppet for ever doubting M'lud Yatesbury. That I do.
We hadn't seen many of the Dunideer sites as mostly they're pretty knocked about, but I had to see Stonehead, rearing up next to Dunideer hill. I wasn't disappointed. This is a monster with a looming voice. The stones and the hill seem to be engaged in a quiet, whispered conversation.
I own and work Stonehead Croft, over the road from the Stonehead Stone Circle. We've had quite a few visitors over the past few years, as have our neighbours at Glendale and Whitebrow (on whose land Stonehead Circle can be found).
However, we're having more problems with visitors of late and would ask people to be more respectful of those of us that live here and of the site itself.
First, please check with the owners of Whitebrow that it's okay to visit the stones - due to livestock concerns. The entrance to Whitebrow is on Western Road, to the left as you go from Insch to the A96 and just before the Wardhouse turnoff (which takes you to the stones).
Second, please do not park in the drives, field gateways and fields unless you have express permission, and do not block the road. The entrances are all in regular use and there is often livestock (horses, sheep and pigs) in the fields of both Whitebrow and Stonehead Croft. Also, under no circumstances should you feed the animals.
Third, if you want to dowse the fields for leylines, please ask first. Similarly, if you want to wander around at night and see the stones by moonlight, please ask and make sure you do it at a reasonable hour. If you're sneaking around the fields at midnight, you're almost certain to get a hostile reception.
Fourth, do not leave litter around the stones or try to chip bits off them. This is a site with both historic and spiritual significance, so please show some respect.
The current owners of all three properties (Whitebrow is currently for sale, June 2006) welcome people visiting the Stonehead Circle provided they show respect for the site, the properties, and the people who live and work here.
Rambo the horse is presently living in this field. As I was half way across the field I heard his galloping hooves thumping into the frosty turf. I turned to see my 'treacherous' travelling companion diving behind a tree. 'It's only a horse', I thought! Seconds later I was steeplechasing the barbed wire fence. Rambo snorted up to us before parading round the field kicking his hind legs. 'Ok, I don't need to get up close to this recumbent', I said. We climbed Dunnydeer instead and the view was spectacular.
More than halfway through the trip, I'd seen a few RSCs by now but this one really stopped me in my tracks.
Maybe it's the size and the way it leans towards you, beckoning you to come closer. Maybe its the fact that there are no circle stones so these three stones get your full attention.
Standing on its own with no distracting trees or fences (or ponies!) certainly helps.
This is the site that no advance reading had prepared me for. Minimalistic .... but then I like that.
3.9m long recumbent; flankers 2.5m and 2.8m. It's also one of many sites where the most interesting or best dressed side of the recumbent stone is on the outside. To be seen by the moon not the participants.
We scurried to this site in the face of an approaching storm. If you're heading from Dunnideer then you park before the small road heading S and walk a hundred yards or so down that road. The stones are in a horse field on your L. The remaining stones (flankers & recumbent only) rear up at an angle like crazy teeth in a giant's skull. The sheer size of the recumbent is truly astonishing - my boy who had been attracted to recumbents all thru this trip had to accept defeat when trying to climb up onto this one! To imagine the circle intact! sends shivers up my spine.
There was no one home at Stonehead stables (opposite) or Glendale (next to), so I hopped over the collapsed fence into the field where Stonehead stands. I moved slowly because the ponies seems nervous (only afterwards did I read Merrick's account which described how the ponies were vicious and attacked him and Annwen - were they different beasts then or was I naive & lucky?).
The remaining recumbent and flankers are magnificent. Recumbent aligns with Hill Flinder. Dunnideer very close to the east, and Tap O'Noth feels close in the west too. In this landscape, Dunnideer feels like the warm, friendly centre, and Tap O'Noth is the looming master/mistress glowering on the periphery.