From Shieldon it is just a mile or so to Kirkton of Bourtie stone circle. Despite a frosty night the morning sunshine was melting the snow apace and the ploughed field was sticking to my boots like treacle.
But the effort in approaching the circle was well worth it to see the giant stones with snow-capped Bennachie in the background. Truly, late winter can produce some magical imagery of stone circles.
Reconnoitring a route up The Hill of Barra (Incidentally I eventually go with that from the north) the remnants of this great RSC rear up from the road at Kirkton of Bourtie. Well, under a sky as blue as that towering above this wondrous, fertile land this morning, I decide to reprise my visit of a few years back. And why not?
Despite the destruction, this is a special, nay, potentially overwhelming stone circle featuring - as I understand - the largest recumbent stone of any RSC? [Thanks to Les Hamilton for subsequently pointing out that Old Keig is actually the largest, by mass.... the Bourtie recumbent the longest]. The field appears in early crop. However tractor tracks lead inexorably to the ring, or what remains of the ring. Two circle stones remain erect.... but they are very substantial. However it is the remaining flanker, still undertaking the role of cohort to a truly massive - hey, overwhelmingly so - recumbent which steal the show. Sundry other stones lie in a jumbled mess within the partially enclosed, overgrown space, whether field clearance or shatter orthostats it's difficult to tell. Probably six of one and half a dozen of another. Or possibly a bit more than that... left me calculator at home, I'm afraid.
As mentioned by 'those who've gone before', the chock stones are an interesting feature of the monument. So is the extensive view toward - as you'd no doubt guess - Bennachie and the Mither Tap, as well as that in the direction of the aforementioned Hill of Barra, according to the map bearing a hillfort. I missed out upon the latter last time I was here. But then the wondrous, nearby Shieldon stone circle accounted for that. And rightly so. But now there is no excuse and I leave this massive recumbent stone - and its ravaged associates - to resume their perennial hill top brooding once again. Yeah, a fleeting visit, but aren't all human interactions such? Need to make them count when given the opportunity, I guess.
Four years on, and at last I can reach the circle-and its well worth it. A truly massive recumbent, and everything about this circle seems big, although the suggested arc is quite tight. This could have been quite claustrophobic when complete.
Most recumbent stones are chocked into place, and this is no exception. However, I like the fact that this ones main chock stone was also shaped to fit snugly against the flanker. There is a smaller stone adjacent to the flanker, which I feel could well be the 'backsight', the smallest stone of the circle moved from its traditional place directly opposite the recumbent.
I know there's lots to see in Aberdeenshire, but you won't regret a visit here. Visit Sheldon while you're at it.
A gorgeous recumbent a few miles from Loanhead of Daviot, which I couldn't get closer to bcause of growing crops.
This circle has perhaps the most spectacular view of Mither Tap of any site in the region, and the views are truly breathtaking.
There is an old Minstry of Works sign in the hedge giving some basic information (access - ask at Bourtie Farm), and it concludes with a fairly stern statement to the effect that there are 2 restored sites at Loanhead and East Aquhorthies to go and look at, so don't bother with this one!