I knew nothing of this stone circle, only where it is on the map, and seeing as it was only 25 miles from our hotel, I didn't have to think long on what to do in the evening.
I didn't see the stone circle immediately, we parked down the road and walked the dogs back up to where the stones are, it was now that I saw they were in someones front garden. After a bit of a groan it was apparent that to get a closer look we'd have to ask for permission. Not something I usually relish doing, but the man at the door at the house next to the stones said it was OK so we entered the neatly manicured garden.
The stones are a bit of a muddle, ive only just read the other field notes and discovered that it is a four poster with added stones, rascally stone adders. The big stone seems unnaturally split, into three, from top to bottom, with perfect right angles. It was after a dozen photos or so that next door let his golden retrievers out who naturally started barking at my two Jack Russell's, who started barking back. We retreated and sat on a log to calm them down, it was now that an old man came over and gave us a stern look and said "Its not a free for all you know"
"Pardon" I replied
"A bit cheeky just coming in and making such a ruckus" he said
I told him we asked permission from the house, it was then that he told me they are just here on holiday. Oh, I see, your the home owner ?
He answered in the affirmative, the dogs still wouldn't shut up so we walked them back to the car, and then went back. Even though it wasn't my dogs that started it I apologised for the noise, but he definitely had the hump now. I tried to change the subject and asked him about the split stone, he ignored my question and asked where I was from, I told him we were from Cheshire, I asked where he was from, seeing as he was clearly English, but that was the second question he ignored. He asked if I knew anything about the stones, I told him I did, he asked their age, I told him between 3 and 4 thousand years, he replied 3 and a half, like my answer was wrong, but I could see in his face that he didn't like the fact that I was right.
Then he said he'd allowed hundreds of people to see the stones but in all his years he'd never seen such audacity, I told him I don't feel very audacious, I could feel my anger begin to rise, but I am always in control so I took a few more pictures just as the holidayers came out to play frisbee, we were just on our way out when he chucked us out, "that's enough photos now I think "
Okay, I thanked him again and said i'm very sorry for any inconvenience.
With that we left, I took a couple of pics from the road and we were gone, there's another stone circle down the road, perhaps that one will be more amenable to the weary traveler.
After I got home I saw the other field notes that all say he is a decent chap, but that isn't how I saw him, more like he bought his ideas of possession with him, and to get on his good side you have to be a bit of a kiss ass, and not have any dogs with you. Honestly if I was working for Historic Scotland or someone with a bit of power I'd take the site off him, cut his garden in two so anyone anytime can go see a very interesting stone circle with out having to feel like a schmuck'
I know it's not his real name but for me it will always be Miserable B'stard.
Thursday 1 May 2003
To me, the circle at Faskally cottages has a similar kind of feel to Tigh Na Ruaich and is sited in a fairly similar way. From memory (and my photos), the largest stone is split top-to-bottom and side-to-side across the middle and the part on the ‘inside’ of the circle is split in two front-to-back.
The circle can be found to the north of Pitlochry, in a garden next to the cottages to the east of the A924, just before it bends left to meet the A9.
Not having read about Faskally before visiting, we called at the house to the left of the cottages, mainly because it was the only place showing any sign of life. A friendly and helpful chap came to the door and I now guess was probably the Mr Townsend that Martin refers to on this site.
(I make this assumption not least because he produced the report Martin mentioned and said very similar things about having the circle in the garden.)
I (maybe wrongly) got the impression that he probably lives at the house & all the cottages are (now) holiday homes – he certainly got the archaeological report from the house.
Whether he lives at the house or the cottage, he’s friendly & enthusiastic enough that it probably doesn’t really matter. If it’s holidaymakers in the cottage, I’m sure they’ll point you in his direction – I can imagine he might even brief them!
Wednesday 8/8/01 5:55pm
This ring is set in a well-tended garden next to some wee cottages ("Greengates"). I just got out of the car and was peering over the fence at the stones when the owner of the cottages appeared- a Mr. Ian Townsend- who stays at the end of Pitlochry as it happens!)- he asked if I was interested in the stone circle- indeed I was :). Mr. Townsned was a really nice guy who says it's fascinating to have such a circle in is garden, but admitted there wasn't as many visitors to the stones as there used to be which I thought was a bit of a shame. He's just come back from his cottage at the very end of the row with a cracking picture of the site which he took (and for me to keep) which shows the circle in spring time with snowdrops and crocuses in the middle of it. We chatted about other Perthshire sites including Croftmoraig, Lundin etc.- he told me he had met Dr. Margaret Stewart- the excavator of Lundin (amongst others) who had visited Faskally before she died. He also has a copy of the 1908 excavation report from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities bound in brown card for visitors to the site to read whilst having a look at the stones. The report has a great opening paragraph-
"In a narrow strip of ground between the Highland Railway on the east and the great main road to the north on the west, is a garden, shielded from observation by a tall hedge on the roadside, and in it there are yet standing in situ the seven stones of this Circle. Never surely, was the pre-historic past brought so closely into contact with the steam power and motor traffic of the twentieth century. In addition to these more or less disturbing conditions, we are told that, during the most recent government survey, the men of the theodolite arrived at the conclusion that this little circle is really the centre of Scotland".
There are six upright stones, well I use the term upright in the loosest possible sense of the word as one of the stones can only be about 20 to 30 cm tall! But the largest stone has a beautiful sloped top from west to east and has split into three huge chunks. Two other large stones with three small make up this circle of six, 21 foot in diameter, with the large stone to the north four foot outside the circle according to the 1908 survey. Was the north stone always the prominent one in this circle? Okay- so maybe this site doesn't have the quiet atmosphere of the nearby Clachan-an-Diridh, but it is a charming place and well worth a visit- I'm sure Mr. Townsend would be very happy to speak to other interested folk about the circle in his garden. From here it was a glorious early August evenings drive back to the Kavan across the moors with a soundtrack of Ganger.
PS- Chris- this is definately a real site! (well- according to the excavation report etc). I found it
in Burls "Stone Circles of the British Isles" as 'Faskally Cottages'.
Travelling through Pitlochry to the North on the A924, look out for the "Greengates" sign for cottages to let on the right hand side of the road.
This is an intriuging little site on the outskirts of Pitlochry village. Not mentioned by JC , it can be found on an OS map.
It appears to be a classic four poster, which has been 'improved' by the addition of some smaller stones (to a total of about 7) in order to complete the arc.
It can be found on the A924 heading north out of Pitlochry in the garden of Faskally Cottages. I wasn't able to gain access to the garden as no-one was at home and time was limited. The circle can be seen through the trees from the road.