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


Stone Circle


A. L. Lewis quotes from a letter "from the Reverend Dr. James Garden, Professor of Theology in the King's College of Aberdeen, to --- Aubrey, Esquire."
Honoured Sir,
Yours dated at London, April 9th, 1692, came to my hands about ten days after..
What the Lord Yester and Sir Robert Morray told you long ago is true, viz., that in the north parts of this kingdom many monuments of the nature and fashion described by you are yet extant. They consist of tall, big, unpolished stones set upon end and placed circularly, not contiguous together but at some distances; the obscurer sort (which are the more numerous) have but one circle of stones standing at equal distances; others towards the south or south-east have a larger broad stone standing on edge, which fills up the whole space between two of those stones that stand on end, and is called by the vulgar the altar stone...

[..] Two of the largest and most remarkable of these monuments that ever I saw are yet to be seen at a place called Auchincorthie. [..] Being lately at Auchincorthie, I was told that a poor man who lives there having taken a stone away from one of the neighbouring monuments above described and put it into his hearth was, by his own relation, troubled with a deal of noise and din about his house in the night time until he carried back the stone unto the place where he found it.

[..] Some of them are called chapels... others are called temples... and those two [described] are called by the people that live near by 'Law Stones,' for what reason I know not, and 'Temple Stones.' They have a tradition that the pagan priests of old dwelt in that place, Auchincorthie, and there are yet to be seen at a little distance from one of the monuments standing there the foundations of an old house which is said to have been their Teind Barn; they report likewise that the priests caused earth to be brought from other adjacent places upon people's backs to Auchincorthie for making the soil thereof deeper, which is given for the reason why this parcel of land, though surrounded with heath and moss on all sides is better and more fertile than other places thereabouts*..

"*This tradition, which seems rather absurd at first sight, may have arisen from the custom which we know to have prevailed of bringing earth and stones from a distance to form special parts of tumuli and circles. -- A.L.L."

From p 49-51 of
Stone Circles Near Aberdeen
A. L. Lewis
The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 17. (1888), pp. 44-57.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th December 2006ce
Edited 6th April 2009ce

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