The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Auquhollie Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Links

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland - Notes from 1922


Notes relating to this site appear on pp 27-28 of the PDF.

Cairn-Mon-Earn (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Limited parking spaces at the foot of the hill, just off the A957; coming from Stonehaven, the entrance is on the right, immediately after a very straight bit of road, and marked as a mountain biking trail.

A fairly easy, spiralling walk of about 45 minutes takes you to the summit, where the cairn shares its home with several imposing communications masts. Good views as far as Aberdeen on a clear day.

The cairn itself is topped with a trig point and is partly capped with a piece of concrete - presumably machinery or cabling relating to the masts is deep underneath.

Cairn-Mon-Earn (Cairn(s)) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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Raedykes (Ring Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Raedykes is a bit of a misnomer; Raedykes itself is a Roman camp on nearby Garrison Hill, while the ring cairns are actually on a different hill, Campstone Hill. There are four ring cairns, one obvious, one less obvious and two dubious. The most intact cairn, on the very top of the hill, features three large stones which Watt* suggests could be "the precursor of a great recumbent stone circle without a ring cairn", the kind of circle most prevalent in this region.

The choice of location is obvious, commanding a great view across to more modern monuments in the form of the masts on Cairn-Mon-Earn and at Durris in one direction, and Stonehaven and the sea in the other. The nearby Hill of Cairneymore, as the name suggests, would have been a superb source of materials.

Getting there: Take the A597 out of Stonehaven for just over 3 miles; you'll cross one bridge, the Findlayston Bridge, about half way there. Eventually you'll come to a place where there's a turn off the road to the right, up a small hill, with a post box in the wall on your left. Go up this hill and you'll quickly come to a fork in the road.

If, as I did, you want to access the cairns via the Roman camp, carry on up the hill (right fork), and use a map to get across to Campstone Hill! This is an interesting way to go, as you'll go through Cairneymore Hill - which is fairly obviously the source of all the stones in the cairns.

If you want to go straight to the cairns, take the left fork, and carry on until you're looking down on a small cottage, called Union Cottage. There should be three green gates in a 'T' on your right; follow the middle of the 'T' up to the crest of the hill and you're there. Either way, taking an OS Explorer map is a very good idea.

Video of the main ring cairn


*Archibald Watt, "Early Stonehaven Settlers", Stonehaven Heritage Society 1994.

Raedykes (Ring Cairn) — Images

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Auquhollie Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Auquhollie Stone</b>Posted by taras<b>Auquhollie Stone</b>Posted by taras<b>Auquhollie Stone</b>Posted by taras

Auquhollie Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

A great example of a single standing stone, complete with an ogham inscription, which is remarkably well-preserved: AVUO ANUNAO UATE DOVENI ('Avuo Anunao, soothsayer of Dovenio'). Stands 8' 6" tall, and is the only Ogham-inscribed stone north of the River Forth still in its original location.

The inscription is unusual because it mentions what Avuo Anunao's job was. Dovenio was likely a local chief, and probably organised the stone as a monument.

There is also a double disc with a bar carved on the NE face.

Getting there: best by foot; approach from the A957, either from the W via the road towards Rumbleyond then through Auquhollie Wood, or from the E by taking the left fork of the road towards Raedykes.

(Source for facts: Archibald Watt - "Highways and Byways Round Stonehaven", 1992. "The most interesting and most ancient sculptured stone in the county".)

Esslie the Greater (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Esslie the Greater</b>Posted by taras<b>Esslie the Greater</b>Posted by taras

Esslie the Greater (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Great circle (actually on oval) in a field at the edge of a wood, skirted by two minor roads, and reasonably far from any houses so it's quiet. Ring cairn in the middle. The fields here are like a stone circle construction site, with enormous boulders all over the place outside the circle, which is presumably why there are so many circles in this area.

I can't help wondering whether there used to be even more circles around here - nearby fields have odd boulders standing in ones and twos; the area might benefit from a proper resistivity survey.

Found a modern stone pyramid in the centre of the ring cairn, so I presume people believe it has 'powers' (although it just looked out of place/ruining the feeling of the circle to me.)

Nine Stanes (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

There's now a notice up asking people to respect the stones, and no evidence of any fires having been lit, a definite improvement on how it used to be.

Nice site, easy access/parking if you're in the car. Park the car here - it's an easy walk from here to the more intact Esslie the Greater and Esslie the Lesser.

Duddingston Loch (Crannog) — Images

<b>Duddingston Loch</b>Posted by taras

Cultivation Terraces (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images

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The Chesters (Hillfort) — Images

<b>The Chesters</b>Posted by taras

The Chesters (Hillfort) — Links

Undiscovered Scotland


Some great photographs and further information on this site.

The Chesters (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Despite the name, this hillfort dates from the Iron Age. Huge, 'stepped' ramparts on the north side (most visible and impressive, as you might expect, at sunset). On the south side, there is (rather inexplicably) a hill taller than the one the fort stands on. Excellent views, particularly at dusk, in one direction all the way to Arthur's Seat, across the Firth of Forth, to the Forth Bridge and beyond to Fife, and in the other to Berwick Law and Bass Rock.

To get there, if you're walking, take the North Berwick train or bus from Edinburgh, and get off at the small village of Drem. Cross the railway road bridge and climb over the fence, then follow the tree-lined road up the hill. The Chesters is on the right and very visible.

By car: the hillfort is well-signposted (it's looked after by Historic Scotland) and has a small, unobtrusive car park below the W side.

Ring of Brodgar (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Ring of Brodgar</b>Posted by taras

Ring of Brodgar (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

This is it - the number one most awe-inspiring ancient site I have had the pleasure to visit. The photographs really don't do it justice. We visited in early September, and went there twice - the second time at midnight, under a completely clear sky, with beautiful twinkling northern lights, the solitary light of the Flotta Flare, and the huge expanse of the Milky Way directly above us. The lack of light pollution in this area (and I'm from Aberdeenshire, where it's not a major problem) means the night sky here is absolutely stunning.

The correct pronunciation is, according to a local tour-guide friend, 'brodjer' (with a slight nordic 'y' on the j). It's easily accessible, with an unobtrusive car park nearby. There are 28 stones remaining out of an original 60 (!), and stones 3, 4, 8 and 9, numbered clockwise from the NW entrance, have runic carving, a cross, an anvil, and an Ogham inscription (source for these last two facts: Janet and Colin Bord, 'A Guide to Ancient Sites in Britain', 1978).

Glenton Hill (Enclosure) — Fieldnotes

Not a particularly incredible site; I wouldn't even say it was really worth a look unless you were heading from Stonehaven towards the rather more diverting Nine Stanes. Situated off the A957, just before the main village at Rickarton, very exposed and easy to see from the road. Cross the field and head towards the forest.

There appear to be trenches running the length of the heathery/grassy area below the forest, although they are largely obscured by the heather. Around the forest are dotted many stones, some large, increasingly so as you reach the forest itself. The forest is in fact a ring of trees around an open area with deep and obvious trenches around its circumference.

Unfortunately, this area seems to attract two major annoyances during the summer: horse poo (do these animals never stop??) and swarms of flies, so bring a hood.

Glenton Hill (Enclosure) — Images

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Mains of Clava SE (Clava Cairn) — Fieldnotes

A brief gander at the OS map reveals this second site directly across the road from Mains of Clava NW, hidden (at least during summer) by overgrown bushes and dense grass. Be careful crossing the rickety drystane dyke (wall), unless you're an expert at rebuilding them.

These 'hidden' stones are somewhat special because you are almost guaranteed to be the only visitor that day.

Clava Cairns — Fieldnotes

A pleasant, 1.5 mile walk will take you from the Culloden visitors' centre, down past Clava Lodge and Mains of Clava to this lovely fantastically well-preserved site. If you're going in summer, you'd be advised to visit early in the morning or late in the evening, as this is a 'coachloads of tourists'-type attraction. Two graves, a ring cairn and the 'kerb cairn', plus numerous other stones of all shapes and sizes.

Excavations in 1828, 1857 and 1858 found bones and pottery in the NE cairn, flint flakes in the ring cairn, and bones in the SW cairn. Prof. Thom found that the entrance passages align exactly through two stones in the ring cairn with the midwinter sunset. (Source: 'A Guide to Ancient Sites in Britain, Janet & Colin Bord, 1978).

I arrived there at about 9am at the height of summer (although it was a traditional Scottish summer day - gray, drizzly and very still), and was only joined by a few other quiet people, who soon left me on my own for a good forty minutes. By 11, when I was returning from Miltown of Clava, the place was heaving with bawling children, amateur photographers, loud tourists and disinterested coach drivers.

The site extends on beyond the boundaries of the Historic Scotland 'official fence', in one direction into easily-accessible fields, and in the other, into people's gardens (also easily-accessible, but I wouldn't recommend it!) and beyond to the Miltown site.

Two lovely graffiti'd stone picnic tables are available next to the car park if you need to take a break. This site suffers badly from litter, so if you're feeling charitable, bring a litter bag and pick some up. Historic Scotland don't seem to be doing it (although I did see one of their representatives driving around so they're not entirely neglecting the site).

If you're looking for something else to do, it's worth having a walk down to the rather imposing viaduct.

Clava Cairns — Images

<b>Clava Cairns</b>Posted by taras

Mains of Clava NE (Clava Cairn) — Images

<b>Mains of Clava NE</b>Posted by taras

Mains of Clava NE (Clava Cairn) — Fieldnotes

If you're approaching the main cairns at Balnuaran and Miltown of Clava from the direction of Culloden (as most will be), this will be the first site you come across. Situated in the field immediately preceding the Balnuaran of Clava grove, it's a single stone situated in the centre of the field.

This site is listed as "Not accessible to the public" by Historic Scotland, although there is certainly nothing to stop you other than the field and possibly its animal inhabitants!

Certainly not as exciting as the main feature at Balnuaran of Clava, but worth a quick look. But don't forget to cross the road and also have a look at Mains of Clava SE.
Currently living in Aberdeenshire and looking around places when I have the time, which isn't that often anymore.

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