The dense block of pine trees that partially encircled the stones on Aikey Brae has been felled, leaving the site feeling like a windswept wasteland.
I knew it had happened but it was still a shock when I visited the circle at the weekend.
This was the first sighting of the stones after walking up the, admittedly, much improved and cleared, track:
Gone is the path through the dark forest.
Gone is the experience of stepping out into the sunlight and the stones.
Traversing the now rough ground at the top of the hill, I got a bit closer, the taller uprights coming into better view:
I ran the last bit of the way, wanting to be within the circle to get my bearings, so the place could feel like it used to. I sought views that would not have changed, having been open to the countryside all along.
Facing the great recumbent:
It still felt different. With no tree line at the side of my eye, everything seemed bright and glaring. I never fully appreciated just how much the trees sheltered the site before, till I was buffeted by wind at every turn! That shelter contributed to the calm feel of the place.
Now it feels stormy.
But I’m going to stop my complaining now. Because… well… things change. I’m sure the circle has looked like this many times during its 4000 year lifespan. Trees will have grown. People will have harvested them. Current thinking is that the surrounding land would have been tree-less when the circle was built.
And improvements have been made to the place. There’s a new path round the hill, boasting benches and a picnic table; a shiny new sign announces this upon arrival. I didn’t explore the path and the views it offers, still being a bit post-pneumonia feeble, but I will go back and walk it later in the year.
I’ve spent so much time at this stone circle, both physically and at my desk while writing, because though the circle in my books is fictional, it’s Aikey Brae it’s based on. The change will take time to settle. I need to notice the new beauty it brings. The light is different, I see that already. There are plans in place to plant indigenous trees; I will enjoy watching those grow large over the coming years.
And, no matter what changes we make around them, the stones still stand tall and majestic against the sky.
Go here to view Aikey with the trees, and in the snow.
THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR has a new sexy review from Grumpytyke: “Not far into the second half it became pretty sexy! I didn’t expect that, not from the first half of the story nor from Ailish’s blog posts.” See the whole review here.
Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, features an often overlooked event in history, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, and a love story.