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Nine Stanes

Stone Circle

<b>Nine Stanes</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Also known as:
  • Garrol Wood
  • Mulloch

Nearest Town:Banchory (6km NW)
OS Ref (GB):   NO723912 / Sheets: 38, 45
Latitude:57° 0' 40.05" N
Longitude:   2° 27' 22.2" W

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My real target was the pair of Esslie circles, but seeing as it was so close I just had to have a look at this one too, best decision I made all day.
The Nine stanes of Garrol wood are really close to the road, so the kids decided to let me go on up alone, Mia the dog had other ideas so she joined me.
I don't half like stone circles that are hiding out in the trees, it lends a tremendous dose of atmosphere to any site. OK, they are conifer trees, planted by us to some unagreeable end, but they're still better than gorse. Lots of trees have recently been felled opening out the view somewhat, but what is left behind isn't pretty, not at all.
That ugliness is well off set by one of the best stone circles I've ever been to. There are quite a few stone circles that have somehow accrued the name Nine stones, but this is one of those rare occasions when someone who could count named the site. But the name is still so general that I'm surprised there isn't a stone circle somewhere that's called stone circle.
The stones are a lovely reddish granite, the recumbent still has both it's flankers, but one is having a lie down, six remaining circle stones makes nine, well done that man.
From the circle I can see Eric sat on the roof of my car, not ideal but I can stay in touch whist being in this other world, and that's how this place feels to me, another world, this has been a bit of a crap year for me, packed with such nasties as heart attacks, tax credit disputes, overworked underpaid and my old nemesis Sciatica, but whilst I potter about this ideal location it's all a billion miles away from it all.
After sitting on the recumbent with dog sitting quietly in lap for what I can only assume was too long Eric shouted me back to reality, it seemed my Garrol wood experience was over, but the reality that awaited me was a good one, Esslie's the Greater and lesser await my company, two more names that keep rattling round my noggin, beckoning me on, the show aint over til the last names done.
postman Posted by postman
14th August 2017ce
Edited 14th August 2017ce

Visited 28.7.14

The last time I visited this fine site it was pouring with rain. I liked it so much I was determined to re-visit when next in the area - hopefully on a nice day. Well, today was the today and luckily, the weather was great – hot with a clear blue sky.

We parked at the gate and were confronted by a sign stating that due to forestry work being carried out access to the circle was temporarily prohibited. Sod that! Myself, Dafydd and Sophie walked along the track towards the circle whilst Karen stayed in the car in case anyone turned up.

It was good to see the sign requesting visitors to respect the stone circle and not to damage them by lighting fires.

This is a lovely stone circle in a very pretty woodland setting. I always find wooded settings most pleasing. There is something about the trees, birdsong etc.

Clearly we weren’t the only recent visitors judging by the ‘offerings’ left on the recumbent stone – peaches, flowers and even a home made ‘prehistoric’ arrow, complete with knapped stone arrow head. Someone put a lot of effort into that.

This really is a great stone circle to visit.
If you get the chance make sure you don’t miss out.
Posted by CARL
7th August 2014ce

Visited 16.6.12

This is a fantastic stone circle to visit and a ‘must see’ site.

The circle is visible from the road amongst the trees although the sign refers to it as Mulloch Stone Circle. You can park next to a gate and follow the path to the circle.

Despite the drizzle and the mist/fog it is a lovely place to visit and must be quite magical on a nice day.

There are 7 standing stones, 1 fallen flanker and the recumbent stone.
Most of the stones are covered in moss.
Posted by CARL
26th July 2012ce

Visited 20th August 2010

Parking up next to a couple of camper vans we set off to find our third recumbent of the day. After a bit of poking about in the woods (at least I've got the O.S. map with me today!) we found what we were looking for and what a cracker it is!

On first sight I missed the recumbent, and thought this was a 'traditional' style stone circle, which would have been unusual for Aberdeenshire, but soon the dumpy recumbent boulder with one erect and one fallen flanker became apparent.

Sitting in a sylvan glade this lovely little circle has a fantastic atmosphere, although close to the road, and with several campervans about, it still feels remote and separate, although the remains of a campfire in the circle suggest that it is well visited.

After earlier showers the sun is shining again, the light lancing through the trees and dappling the circle with shadows. I prop myself up on the recumbent to write up my fieldnotes, with only the sounds of woodpeckers from the surrounding forest for company.

The recumbent seems to have the same south-easterly alignment as other RSC's but as has been mentioned this site doesn't seem to fit the standard pattern of the Aberdeenshire circles!

Out of all the recumbent circles we've seen this week, this one has the best atmosphere, the whole setting of the place is like a scene from a fantasy story, the creaking of the nearby trees like the whispering of Ents. Such a beautiful circle, though hopefully we will get the chance to see a couple more before we have to return to Muggleland (the midlands) tomorrow.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
21st January 2012ce

Following a serious hammering by the Aberdeenshire weather upon Cairn O'Mount, this lovely, frankly bonkers RSC is just the ticket before bedtime. Despite no let up in the downpour.

I first came here back in June 2004, and I'm pleased to say that the intervening years have not eroded the charm of the place, set within a forestry clearing, one bit. That's right, not one bit. Unfortunately, however, like the aforementioned cairn, the Nine Stanes are too accessible to have escaped the ravages of the modern world. In the stone circle's case, it is moronic 'happy campers' who are no doubt responsible for the damage, the all too clear remains of a campfire defacing what Burl describes as 'one of the most splendid of all central spaces' within the internal ring cairn. Indefensible, even for the most myopic of creatures. I hate to think what might happen should I ever stumble upon such a scene in progress... let's hope it never comes to that, eh?

The monument is one of the most idiosyncratic I've seen... consider the analogy of a group of people being passed instructions concerning 'how to erect an RSC' via a game of 'Chinese Whispers'... and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Nine Stanes was the result. Having said that, to paraphrase the great Eric Morecombe, 'everything's here, but not necessarily in the right order'. Yeah, architecturally speaking it would perhaps be kinder to say that the Nine Stanes is in a class of its, er, own, and leave it at that. Burl cites the sort-of-central ring cairn as 'a travesty..... a warped oval of indifferent kerbing...badly designed', the recumbent and flankers as 'not on the circumference..... carelessly placed'. You get the picture. But, for me, that is precisely what gives the ring its charm, its sense of innate 'humanity', its overwhelming vibe which no legions of 'Carry on Camping' muppets can remove. It doesn't abide by the standard RSC rules and so is therefore all wrong, yet paradoxically so right at the same time. As if it was built by you and I. Burl concurs, describing the monument as 'wondrous to behold'. Right on, Mr B!

Suffice to say I retire for the night soggy and dripping, yet more than happy I came back to Garrol Wood for another look at this punk stone circle masterpiece.
19th June 2011ce
Edited 19th June 2011ce

I visited the Nine Stanes after the two Esslie circles, parked-up at the forest car park and followed the short path to the stones.
This is a beautiful ruin of a circle, the forest, moss hung trees and lichen covered stones all blend together to produce a completely different sensory experience from the neighbouring Esslie rings. If it wasn't for the regimented lines of the forestry plantation you could easily daydream yourself back into prehistory at this lovely circle.

I noticed Hamish's outlier and its alignment with the recumbent stone and quite agree with him.

Nine Stanes is a lovely accessible site, one of the many jewels to be found in this part of the world.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
8th May 2009ce
Edited 8th May 2009ce

When I was there I took the usual pictires associated with this circle, but when exploring the site I came upon this outlying stone. I do believe it is a part of the complex but no-one mentions it. hamish Posted by hamish
20th August 2006ce

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.
Posted by taras
6th August 2006ce

It's quite trashed. Half the circle is gone but the six stone left are enough to enjoy in the cool forest glade. The recumbent is quite small and one of the flankers is down. Why-oh-why not erect it again? Liked this one a lot!

This place is also known as Mulloch or Garrol Wood stone circle.
Jane Posted by Jane
30th July 2006ce

I was up at ninestanes today (6/4/06) around 10:00.

Someone had left some ritual bits and pieces about, and effectively, had bound the stones then gone off and left them. The stones themselves were not too happy about it. I visit them around once every 2-4 weeks and they felt very wrong.

There's a difference between asking for help and commanding. You should never bind something and then leave it, whether it's a person or another kind of entity. If you believe the stones have power you should respect it, and their right to free will. If the people who did this believe that what they were doing was helping the stones, the stones themselves really didn't agree.

Ninestanes has always been a very gentle and compassionate place- if you ask nicely, it will do what it can. Remember to offer something back, but don't force what you want to give on it- it might not be appropriate. Sometimes the stones want to be left alone, pause a while before you go barging in, you can always say hi behind the recumbent and come back another time.
Posted by vapidness
6th April 2006ce

This site is gorgeous, and one where the new forestry adds atmosphere, rather than detracting.

A must visit, even amongst the jewels in this part of Scotland-If you've come to see Loanhead and East Aquhorthies you can definitely see this, and you have the bonus of the 2 Esslie circles just around the corner.
Chris Posted by Chris
4th September 2002ce
Edited 13th December 2002ce

This recumbent stone circle is about ½ mile south of Esslie the Lesser, south of Banchory. It's also known as Garrol Wood.

Set just off the road down a forestry track, this beautiful site looks as though it's a local party place with a fire having been made in the central pit.
sals Posted by sals
19th July 2002ce


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- It is unfortunate that the Office of Works should have disregarded the Garrol stone circle, so nobly situated, and so impressive. On my last visit (the 15th) I was shocked to find that the woodmen in clearing up the cut wood had piled and burned a large quantity of heavy brush in the very centre of the circle, thereby cracking, displacing and disfiguring the stones and chamber slab of the inner circle.

I could be scathing at this juncture, but it is seldom fruitful of happy results. I will only say that if rude men were the builders (by no means proved), our present civilisation is turning out ruder and cruder ones to whom nothing whatsoever appears to be sacred.

I foresee, too, that during re-afforesting by the Department further disfigurement will take place - and possibly complete obliteration.

This circles is a source of great interest to strangers, as I well know, and therefore a valuable asset to a locality endeavouring to popularise itself. But apart from this cheap side-view, the Garrol circle is an inspiring object, fascinating and fruitful of thought, and of the highest human and historical interest. May some kind hand protect it!

-Arthur F. Leslie Paterson,
Birkwood, Banchory.
The fight for Stones goes on. A letter in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, 24th July 1936.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th October 2018ce


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Stone Tapes

Video of a visit to the Nine Stanes in the hail.
Posted by missinghen
25th October 2009ce