The Sublime Open Circles: A Scottish Holiday, Day 9

Today we had a wonderful adventure hunting down a total of four stone circles. It was really quite wonderful, and we probably wouldn’t have done this had we been forced to stay in Aberdeen and had we discovered how drab Aberdeen is. Getting out and about into the countryside to seek out these sites was exactly what we needed.

The first circle we visited was Loanhead of Daviot Stone Circle, about a 35 minute drive outside Aberdeen and nearby a small village called, er, Daviot. This circle is a so-called recumbent stone circle because one of the giant stones stands horizontally rather than vertically and is flanked by two, tall, vertical standing stones. When on the inside of the circle, this arrangement of stones frames the rising or setting moon in the south. The circle itself is perhaps 20 meters in diameter with 8 standing stones in addition to the three that make up the recumbent section. There is also another smaller circle on this site called the Cremation Cemetery, which contained the partially cremated remains of a man in addition to the remains of 32 other people.

As I mentioned before when I wrote about viewing the Croft Moraig Stone Circle, I just absolutely love viewing these stone circles. For whatever reason, I hold a strong affinity towards these ancient, pagan, Druidic, sacred, spiritual spaces. And I’m an atheist. But there’s just something so inexplicably powerful about being in spaces that hold the earth and the moon in such adoration.

Next we made our way to the Easter Aquhorthies Stone Circle, about a 20 minute drive south of the Daviot circle via the B9001. It’s situated just north of a small village called Burnhervie, and it’s another example of a recumbent stone circle. This one also had the characteristic horizontal stone flanked by two, tall, vertical standing stones, and there were nine additional standing stones that competed the circle.

If I had to choose, this was probably my favorite circle of the four we saw today. It was the most calm and peaceful of the four, the most far removed from modern civilization, and we were the only ones visiting this particular circle. (There were two passersby, but otherwise that was it.) There was also a pasture full of cows very near the circle, and it was nice to view the animals as well.

As we made our way to the third circle, we started to feel hungry. We happened to pass by a wonderful little restaurant called the Garlogie Inn, right on the B9125 and right outside a village called, er, Garlogie. It was a delightful little establishment. I had the most delectable macaroni and cheese ever with some “loaded” potato skins stuffed with a vegetarian chili.

Following lunch, we made our way to Cullerlie Stone Circle (just right south of Garlogie), and it was fine, I guess. It was a smaller stone circle, and it wasn’t a recumbent circle because all eight stones were standing vertically. This site was used mainly for cremated burials.

It wasn’t as impressive a circle because it was so manicured, all the stones surrounded by small pebbles that might be used for a path through some royal garden. In fact, at first we thought it looked so manicured that we though they might’ve laid down concrete beneath the small pebbles. They didn’t, but the small pebbles and the fact that it was right next to a farm with a whole bunch of modern day machinery rather ruined the experience.

Lastly we made our way to Tyrebagger Stone Circle, another recumbent stone circle. This one was somewhat fun to seek out, because it’s accessible by only some tiny, single-lane, gravel country roads. Unexpectedly, it’s located practically right next to Aberdeen airport, however, and you have to walk about 500 feet through a field used for bailing hay to get there. It was really quite incredible, though, that someone bails hay next to this thousands-of-years-old, pagan, stone circle.

All in all, it was quite a wonderful day seeking out these circles. They’re really quite amazing sites, and I feel such an inexplicable connection to these spiritual places. It’s really quite remarkable.

We eventually made our way back to Aberdeen for one final night. My mother and I went to a nearby pub called the Kittybrewster Bar. We asked a local for a suggestion for what kind and how to drink a proper Scotch whiskey. They suggested a Dalmore single malt whiskey with no ice, so that’s what we had! I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, but this was a quite smooth whiskey, very easy to drink, and it warmed the body and soul through and through.

(We may have had more than one whiskey, and I may have had a Tennant’s lager or two.)

Stray Observations:

1. I kept forgetting to write about this one. When we were in Crieff, Mrs. Marion Lewis’s husband (who is from northern England, judging by his accent), admitted to having a hard time understanding Glaswegians. So far, I must admit, that their accent has been the most difficult to understand as well.

2. It’s been happening a lot where the locals will apologize for the weather, and I keep telling them to stop, because I think the grey, rainy, 17-degree days are fantastic. A man at the Kittybrewster Bar, however, told us that it’s actually been rainier than normal. Even still, I think the weather’s been glorious!

3. There is a beer over here that I’ve had repeatedly since the first or second night: Tennant’s lager, and it’s brewed right in Glasgow. It’s a fantastic and simple lager with no frills, and I’m going to miss it dearly!

4. While at Garlogie Inn, we got to witness a table of perhaps 10 people, a multigenerational family enjoying a Sunday meal. And, boy, were they a jolly bunch! Afterward an older lady from the table came over and apologized for the noise, but we told them not to apologize and that it was so wonderful to see such a happy family celebrating life together. We then talked about a certain idiot U.S. president and commiserated together over how such an unlikely and scary and ridiculous and horrible man actually happened. We also explained that we find this idiot to be a real embarrassment.

5. The Scottish continue to be so, so friendly. The men at Kittybrewster that we talked to were so, so lovely. We talked about various places in the states that they’ve been to, they were so accommodating when we asked them for suggestions about what whiskey to have, and two separate people actually purchased our drinks for us! Such charming people!

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