The Allure of The Stone Circles

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Photo by Simon Hattinga Verschure 

Stone circles and monolith sites have taken on a fever in the last 7 years, thanks to a little show called Outlander. Many historical sites have taken an actual beating due to the very high attendance this series and other series, such as The Last Kingdom, have brought fans flocking to these ancient ruins.

I have made it my mission to see some circles this next trip. I was thwarted by a funeral on the Isle of Skye that had half the island involved and no way to get around it. It’s very rare for a native islander to live on the island and when one passes, the whole island gets involved. Which is really a beautiful thing, but when one gets half their tour cut off for the day and not time in the schedule to stay an extra day, you have to bump that to the next trip.

If you are lucky enough to be in the UK and Ireland and COVID-19 restrictions ease, heading to the ancient sites will be a great place to stay distanced, yet close to history. For the rest of us, start saving up.

Stone Circles

Stone circles are found across the UK Isles, Ireland, and norther Europe. They were constructed between the years including the late Neolithic through Bronze Ages (3000 BCE). It’s not just the Northern Hemisphere, there are even a variation in the South of Africa.

What was the purpose of a stone circle? Ceremony for ancient peoples, usually centered around the seasons. Many of the circles feature at a particular movement of the sun, much like monoliths and other structures. The larger circles were though to have ben erected in places where there had been a larger settlement as the stones required a huge undertaking with ancient technology to transport and erect.

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Image by Paul Bates 

Not all circles are full circles, come are spiral or concentric, others are recumbent and axial. A single large stone placed on its side is recumbent or lying down. These are usually intentional, and similar to a placement of a stone for a Viking burial site. Indeed some of the circles and variants are part of a tomb or chambered site. Some systems have evidence of a cobble pavement, as these were places of worship and expected to be used over time. Some may contain a ring cairn used as a burial marker.

NOTE: While some countries have land passage laws, it is very important that you check out the official sites for information on access. Some of these are on private property and a fee may be charged. Check for public right of way spaces.

Note: as with all boggy moor conditions, check with local conditions for safe parking areas. Cars will sink.

Britain

Avon: Stanton Drew Circles and Cove

Cornwall: Boscawen-un stone circle, Nine Maidens of Boskednan, Hurlers, Men an tol, Merry Maidens, Stannon Circle.

Cumbria: Blakerly Raise, Castlehowe Scar, Castlerigg Circle, Druid’s Circle, Giants Grave, Greycroft Circle, Long Meg and her Daughters, Sewborrans, Shap Circles, Sunkenkirk

Derbyshire: Arbor Low Henge, Bamford Moor Circle, Hordron Edge Circle, Nine Stone Close, Park Gate Circle, Smelting Hill, Big Moor, Eyam Moor, Gardom’s Edge, Gibbet Moor, Stanton Moor.

Devon: Brisworthy Circle, Fernworthy Circle and Row, Grey Wethers Circle (Double), Ringsmoor Row and Circle, Scorhill Circle -Dartmoor. Darmoor has several Neolithic sites.

Dorset: Winterbourne Abbas Circle

Durham: Barningham /How Tallon Circle

Norfolk: Holme-Next-theSea (Seahenge) Bronze Age Wooden Circle

Northumberland: Doddington Moor Circle, Duddo, Goatstones

Somerset: Glastonbury

Wiltshire: Avebury, Long Stones, The Sanctuary

STONEHENGE and surrounding area. Yes, the big stone circle has a bit of company.

Yorkshire North: Appletreewick, Commondale, Devil’s Arrows, Harwood Dale, and a great many other Neolithic sites.

Brittany: Carnac Stones, Le Grand Menhir Brisé

Ireland: Ballynoe, Athgreany, Uragh, Beltany, Drombeg

Scotland

Aberdeenshire: East Aquhorthies, Loanhead of Daviot, Raich, Sheldon, Tomnaverie

Angus: Balgarthno, Balkemback

Dumfriesshire: Twelve Apostles

Fife: Balfarg, Lundin Links

Inverness-shire: Aviemore, Balnuaran of Clava, Center-North-East-South-West

Peeblesshire: Cloyhouse Burn, Harestanes, Stobo Mill

Perthshire: Abbots Deuglie, Abernethy Den, Ardblair, Bachilton, Balhomais, Balmuick, Bandirran (east and west circles), Carse Fam I, II, Clach na Croiche, Clach na Tiompan, Clachan an Diridh, Graighall, Craigiedun, Croftmoraig, Dalginross, Diarmid’s Grave, East Cult, Easthill, Faire na Paitig, Falls of Acharn, Faskally Cottages, Ferntower, Fortingall NE, S, SW, Fowlis Wester, Gleann Beag, Kerrowmore, Kinnell, Licher-Stanes, Machuim, Moneydie, Muirheadstone, Na Clachan Aoraidh, River Almond, Tigh na Ruaich, Tom na Chessaig, Upper Gaskan, Wester Tullybannocher, Woodside. Map

Ross and Cromarty: Archmore, Airidh nam Bidearan, Applecross, Ballan Trushal, Beinn Fuathabhal, Callanish, Carriblair, Clach an Trushal, Cnac Ceann a’ Gharraidh, Cnoc Gearraidh Nighaen Choinnich outliers, Glen Shader, Na Dromannan, Shader Riverside, Strath

Roxburghshire: Ninestane Rig

Wales

Bryn Cader Faner, Gorsedd Stone Circle, Druids Circle, Harold’s Stones, The Rocking Stones


Maps at Stone-Circles.ORG

Scotlands Stone Circles

Megalith Map

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Photo by Jasmin Gorsuch 

A Weekend of Culture, off the beaten path — Travels with a Kilt

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Things to do in the Scottish Borders Warm, sunny afternoons, empty country roads, windows down…..it sneaks up on me with alarming realisation that I can’t remember the last time I had this experience. This sense of solitude. You’ll certainly never find it in the Highlands in summer and it’s always in August that us locals…

via A Weekend of Culture, off the beaten path — Travels with a Kilt

Glasgow Botanics: Spring Blues Cure All

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A Celtic Muse

It’s slowly crawling towards spring, but you know that last stretch seems to be a huge hill to climb. Especially with this past winter, Scotland has had record snows and storms.It’s a great time if it’s safe to do so, to seek out a place where you can get a tropic feel without having to fly. Whether you are visiting Glasgow or a seasoned resident, having a bit of green during the dreary grey and white filled months, that seem to include Spring, will help those with the doldrums spring. If you find your Seasonal Affective Disorder won’t let go, Glasgow has answers.

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Two of the best indoor flora venues are in this town, The Glasgow Botanics Gardens Kibble Palace and the smaller Winter Gardens, and the People’s Palace at the Glasgow Green. Both feature classic Victorian Green Houses and are free to the public, but if you have a fiver, please donate at these free venues and any other museum in the city. It all helps to give you a cheer when you have the grey throughout.

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Glasgow Botanic Gardens

730, Great Western Road Glasgow G12 OUE Tel:0141 276 1614 Open from 7am until Dusk Every Day, Glass Houses Until 6pm, 4:15 in Winter.

Easily accessible by public transportation, near the Hillhead Underground stop, and off the Great Western Road with plenty of bus access. It’s close to the West End and Glasgow University grounds and has great access to fabulous food and other activities in the area. The Heritage walk encompases the exterior gardens off the Kelvin River and links up with the Kelvin walkways. A great way to add to a day of walking the parks in this very walkable town.

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The Kibble Palace is a Victorian Glass House Arboretum that was founded in 1817 by Thomas Hopkirk, and was part of the university in its early days. The gardens began in another location closer to campus, offering support and the teaching of botanics to students. The current site has been in use since 1839, and has a grouping of large glass structures that house several collections of specimens from around the world. The palace houses the main collections, with several other glass structures surrounding it. Glass houses mean protection from the elements for the many plants that are tropic, and this means a great out of the elements exploration for you.

Each greenhouse features different world plant zones, from the tropics to the deserts of the world. There are plants from all of the continents. My favorite is the collection of Carnivorous plants, and any fun Orchid that is dangling. Every inch imaginable is packed with plants. There is even a seed exchange or purchase, but you’ll have to go soon, they are only available until about mid April.

Kelvin Walkway

Maps Courtesy Walk Highlands

The Kelvin Walkway extends the West Highland Way walking trails into the city proper, going through Minlgavie. This a nice river walk/hike that goes through the city and lets you pop up in several neighborhoods. The full pathways route is a good 17 Km. Keep an eye out for blocked access as some of the stairs are under repair and it may be a few streets before you can exit. You can walk portions of the river walkways and come up to view attractions or neighborhoods, there are great eats in the West End. You can start the full walk from the Riverside Museum and do the Botanics and other attractions along the way. Mind the midges.

Scotland in a Day – Revelling in a Scottish Road Trip — Travels with a Kilt

The Best of Scotland in a Day Don’t let the title confuse you. This is not a post about an – absolutely impossible – attempt to experience this fabulous wee country in 24 hours. Rather, it’s about capturing Scotland’s broad appeal in one day. The assets that have made it one of the top destinations…

via Scotland in a Day – Revelling in a Scottish Road Trip — Travels with a Kilt

Hiking in Glen Coe

Hiking Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe For just about every single fan of hillwalking in the Scottish Highlands, there’s going to be a special place in their heart and soul for Buachaille Etive Mor. The distinctive, much photographed pyramidal sentry that stands guard to the entrance of the most famous Glen of them all,…

via Climbing the Mighty Buachaille Etive Mor — Travels with a Kilt