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 

Post-COVID Travel! So Ready For It.

Canva - Person Wearing Black Jacket Standing on Green Grass Field Near Lake

I have just had another health scare. Not of the COVID variety, but one that made me take stock of life in general. When I have had adversity and serious health concerns in the past, I have had to have a goal to get through the stress. Usually it’s the typical healthy one, I want my body back! But since I have had to go back into isolation for a reason other than COVID and follow some of the same protocols, I decided it’s time to think about a life Post-COVID. One year from now I want to be in Scotland and Ireland again. So time to get my health back in order, exercise, eat right, so when I get there I can go for hours walking and hiking around. And hopefully make it back to NI and Ireland as well. Time to find all of the Game of Thrones Doors.

Back To Ireland and Scotland

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Both countries are going back into restrictions. Not surprising, the UK and Ireland being islands, that with people still not practicing social distancing and rebelling against mask wearing they are getting hard hit. The world is going into a second wave of the Coronavirus.

In looking at the travel planning sites for Scotland, the go to standard VisitScotland.com has COVID travel advice, and sadly their trip planner is unavailable now. So, it’s back to the basics with that folder in G-Drive and a list of the things I want to see and do this trip. That is always the best way to start your travel list, just keep it simple.

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Where To Stay

During the pandemic, short term lets through Air BNB and other companies have been restricted, with countries calling for large online booking firms to act responsibly and not book short term lets. Landlords have had to go back to longer term leases on their rentals. Some in the cities are rejoicing as rental housing has become a premium because so many land lords were running vacation rentals that do not have as many restrictive laws binding them and they can turn over a faster profit by the night. See my accommodations pages for places to stay, at least it is a contact you can work with to test the waters on your trip.

So what will the landscape look like coming out of Covid restrictions in the summer months? I’m aiming for Fall 2021, as looking at the CDC and other reporting sites, projections show the worst of the virus should be mostly played out by then. Check each country’s travel restrictions to check if they are still requiring a negative Covid test prior to flying.

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Most of all, I have made some Twitter friends in Scotland and would love to meet or at least check up on them to see if they are alright. I feel that traveling a year from now would show me that the world is going to be okay, not perfect, definitely changed.

So, I will be starting my list with an animal, the Puffin, and standing stones. I did not get to see either of these on the last trip. Well, then there’s The Flying Jacobite train. Ireland, well, west coast this time and another historical train if I can. Oh, and some Irish and Scottish islands. There’s three weeks easy. The Fall is the best time of year with the leaves changing colors. And if I get my game plan on for hiking more this year, I might make it up my first Munro!

Alley in Edinburgh

Warning: If you break the 14 day travel isolation rules you will face serious fines. If you must travel for business, please check with the embassy in your country.

Travel During Covid Restrictions Scotland

Visit Scotland

Scottish Government Page

Travel Durning Covid Restrictions Ireland

Irish Government Covid Travel Page

Citizens Information Pages

Travel During Covid Restrictions N. Ireland

NI Government Advice Pages

Visit Belfast

Travel During Covid Restrictions Wales

Welsh Government Covid Advice Pages

Visit Wales

Travel During Covid Restrictions UK

UK Government Travel Site

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Word Of Warning: Security

Be aware that when planning an itinerary or using a booking platform, that these companies have had breaches of security over the years. Monitor all you activity on this platform and close out your account when you return. I also advise that when you return from and international trip, you close out your credit cards and get new ones issued. Skimming cards has become so technologically easy and you don’t have to use it, just be standing somewhere. Keep your card in a sleeve to protect it at the airport and beyond. Just the same, many travel planning sites have been hacked and information taken. Sadly, it takes these companies months before they alert you and the damage is done.

Don’t use  your ATM cards abroad. Get a pre paid reloadable card. Sadly some of these companies have gone through insolvencies with the COVID economic crash, so do your research.

Aviation Consumer Protection: Airlines Bankruptcies and Your Rights

7 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Ireland

Scottish Airbnb Host Gets a Rude Awakening When She Finds Over 23 Extra Guests Camping in Her Garden

The Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland — offtoafineart

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I thought I would have a crack at painting this scene by way of a change. I have never tried painting a Scottish view before, usually too busy with the Mediterranean. Scotland has a lot to offer, with any amount of castles ea ch set amongst stunning scenery. Every family or clan had its stronghold, […]

via The Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland — offtoafineart

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

Edinburgh Off The Path Things to Do This Winter

HighStreetPubWhat can you do when the holidays have wiped you out financially, and the traditional down time of winter from the New Year to March has got you down. Many flock, if they can get cheap flights, to warmer climes around the globe. What do you do if you are very poor after the holidays and you are also looking at the taxes blues. How can you budget to get away or do the staycation thing and feel like you are escaping the winter drears? Hopefully, you caught a great cheap flight to sunnier climes, or for you hopeless romantics, going to the country of your dreams may be much more affordable during the winter months. Flights will be cheaper for non traditional tourist months as will the accommodations. Can you plan a great trip with the idea that you will have 6 to 8 hours of sunlight during the day, as opposed to the summer where you can have until 11 pm for sunlight? Pack for colder climes but see great sights as the natives do.

I often vote for the obscure, out of the way things to do, and as many low budget or free activities as possible. Remember, museums are free in many countries and great for rainy days. Cafes are great places to dodge the elements, but there are more entertaining ways to do that.

Head to Scotland!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is known for many things, including its centuries old tradition of training some of the best surgeons in the world. It’s twisty wyndes will get you pleasantly lost and overhead streets and underground tours will make for an eventful saunter.

I always vote for a music tour if you can find one. Edinburgh had it’s own great Punk history as well as a post punk explosion in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Everything from Punk to Funk. As always on tours, check reviews on Trip Advisor or local Yelp to see how these tours are doing.

Edinburgh Musical Tour

http://www.edinburghmusicaltour.co.uk/

Edinburgh Music Tours

https://glasgowmusiccitytours.com/edinburgh/images

Mary King’s Close

The Closes of Edinburgh are fantastic twisty stairways that often have shops and historical places leading off of them. This close sadly had a terrible history with the close being blocked off by the city in the 1600s due to plague, and all inhabitants became trapped. This was a common quarantine action in the days of the plagues with many large cities forced to try to contain a disease they did not know. Thankfully the city took reasonable care with the inhabitants, those that were healthy enough were moved, and others stayed behind with food being left for them. These days, the close is one of the many great routes through the city.

https://www.realmarykingsclose.com/

Surgeon’s Hall Museums, History of Surgery Museum Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DW, UK

I can attest to the amount of weird fun you will have here. Not for the squeamish, houses really great, bizarre medical specimens that have been collected over 200 years have gathered here at the training college. Rows of jars filled with unique human issues that helped surgeons understand the human body, often with the conflict of medicine of the times and laws that would limit exploration to treat people effectively. There is an exhibit of Burke and Hare, the famous body snatchers and murderers. Burke was hung and dissected, with his skin used to cover a book.

Check days and times before you go.

https://museum.rcsed.ac.uk/

https://www.rcsed.ac.uk/

Old Calton Cemetery

Nothing better for a weird cold day than to visit the various cemeteries of Edinburgh. I confess that I have done the cemetary walk as a self tour, just hitting up all of the cemeteries and kirkyards of the city. This cemetery had some of the best 18th century to Victorian effigies and funeral arts in the world. Great places to dodge out of the rain. They are quite lovely in the snow as well, and free. download

 

Barnton Quarry Nuclear Bunker

Yup, the nuclear fear hit Scotland too. This bunker was set aside for the Royals to escape should the need be. Secret until 1963, it was purchased back in 2005 with the intent of turning it into a museum. You can see the exterior of the facility, but due to fire it’s full of asbestos. If the bomb doesn’t get you.

Record Stores

Yes, you vinylphiles like to travel. And it’s such a danger being on vacation and finding Scottish and UK music records where they were produced, used, and maybe in mint shape if you’re lucky. Check with these shop and see if they ship, or very carefully gather up all your acquisitions before return trip and  in the appropriate sized and padded record box, ship it back home to your best friend who knows your fiendish record fetish. You’d do the same for them.

VoxBox Music 21 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh

Born out of the Gramophone Shop, which is across the street, it’s an Edinburgh institution and has some rarities for you. Vox Box has the front room with new and very good used selection of all genres. The back room is a bargain hunters paradise. Something for every budget, and a dodge out of the rain.

Unknown Pleasures 110 Canongate, Edinburgh

I have been in this wee boutique shop, it’s loads of fun. It’s at the bottom of the Royal Mile, convenient to having tea after. Vinyl and CDs.

Underground Solu’shn 9 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BP, UK

Coda Music  12 Bank St, Edinburgh

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Want more record fun after your music tour of Edinburgh, read this.

The Best Record Shops in Edinburgh

Hope you enjoy your trip to Edinburgh. Let us know what strange, fun, things you can do on a wintery day there.