I wished I'd seen Merrick's notes before setting out and getting completely lost. Being on the verge of giving up I went back to my car to have another look on the lap top when the farmer turned up. He gave proper directions and then told me to move my car!
(notes beside the last standing stone and on the way home, 3 July 00).
Having seen no reference to this circle anywhere else, I'm not sure this is the right name.
Another circle not listed as even a 'non-gazetteer site' in Modern Antiquarian caught our attention as we looked at the map. Coming up through the woods to the clearing on top of the hill, stones glared down at us, stark against the sky. Recent field clearance stones, as it turned out.
The map makes it look like this circle is surrounded by a U-shape of trees, as indeed it is, but being a crest-of-hill circle the view is above the trees, and only a 30 degree section of the panorama is obscured. This is another one where OS is confusing; if Templand is 'stone circle (rems of)' I don't see how this warrants the full 'stone circle'. All that stands is the metre-high bottom half of a stone that suggests itself as the left flanker. The recumbent, aligned on a level, high horizon (one of only two horizontal parts in the whole panorama) is missing entirely.
A pile of cairnstone-sized rocks lie in the place of the other flanker. Three metres from that lies a fallen circle stone, broken into half a dozen chunks where it fell. Just by that are two other metre-long slabs, seeming like fragments of fallen stones.
Fifteen or twenty metres to the south is a grey granite boulder which, although two metres long, is clearly a fragment of a bigger stone - the north face is a mass of jagged edges. The south face has at least 15 dips that are seemingly cup marks. Some are deep and obvious, some shallow and more questionable. If the marked face of the stone is, as I'm guessing it might be, the top of the recumbent, then it'd be a conservative half of the top, and flat with a rise to the right (perhaps to align on the rise at the right of the south-western level horizon). Knowing that cupmarks are difficult to see in photos we put a yellow gorse petal in each one before taking a picture, facing west out to Knock Hill.
The name 'Knock Hill' is, as Cope points out about another hill of the same name, an English corruption of the Gaelic 'cnoc', meaning hill. This means it's name is simply 'The Hill', the lack of a real name possibly implying it had great significance.
Out to the east a distant peak rises in the lea between Knock Hill and Craigievar. The important south-western aspect is towards Collie Hill and Corse Hill (again, clearly the same root as names like Corrstones, Correen Hills, Cothie-muir). (I only sussed that it was hills with these significant names while mapreading after leaving, so I don't know if its these that make up the horizon). Sadly, the small segment of the view blocked by trees is to the north-east and Mither Tap, but I don't think it'd be visible from the stones, but then again the hills on this landscape play such games (especially Mither Tap) that I wouldn't like to say for certain.
The pile of stones to the north of the stander suggests this area was the inside of the circle. If so, the recumbent stood on the very crest and the smallest stone would've been slightly downhill looking up. The flat north-east face of the standing stone feels like the infacing edge somehow, but it is possible that it's not the flanker and is the backstone. Its NW/SE alignment means it couldn't be any other stone in the circle and it does seem a bit large for a back stone, but as we can't see where the precinct of the circle was we can't say with any certainty. Here, as at the other seriously trashed sites in the area, so much is left to guesswork. And this really is a seriously trashed site; half a standing stone and a load of randomly placed rubble. But the presence of the cup marks contrive to make it an intriguing and really captivating place nonetheless.
This site is generally known at the Howemill stone circle, named for the farm of Howemill (not often named on maps). The site is described well in the RCAHMS database which includes a photograph. RCAHMS gives previous references to the site. It is a four poster stone circle, rare in Aberdeenshire. About 50m SW of the circle is a probable cairn also described by RCAHMS,