Dunnideer Vitrified Hillfort and Leith Hall Garden

tree at the base of Dunnideer vitrified hill fort

This beautiful tree sits at the foot of Dunnideer Vitrified Hillfort near Insch in Aberdeenshire. It’s a short but steep climb to the top of the hill. When you see the remains of the medieval castle and prehistoric fort, you know you’re nearly there.

Dunnideer Vitrified Hillfort

The vitrified forts of Northern Scotland are a bit of a mystery. About 2000 years ago the stones of many of these defensive buildings reached a high enough temperature to melt. Theories as to how this happened are varied. Battles? Ancient building techniques? Aliens? I’ve written a dramatic stone-melting event into SISTERS (no aliens involved) but don’t pretend to have the answer to this piece of prehistory.

vitrified hillfort rock and medieval castle

The views from the hill make all exertion of the climb worthwhile. Click the pano for a larger version:

panorama of view from Dunideer vitrified hillfort

View from the other side:

Dunnideer vitrified hillfort

Dunnideer Stone Circle

Nestled, and almost completely hidden, under a tree at the bottom of the hill are the remains of Dunnideer Recumbent Stone Circle.

recumbent and flankers of Dunnideer stone circle at the base of the vitrified hill fort
stone under tree
split flanker of Dunnideer stone circle

Leith Hall Garden

A few miles further west is Leith Hall with its wonderful walled garden.

colourful borders of Leith Hall garden

Stone guardian at the gate:

lion at Leith Hall

I love the Moon Gate and, in retrospect, wish I had gone through it and taken a photo from the other side too. Passing through moon gates is meant to bring good luck. Oh well, next time…

moongate at Leith Hall


Sisters at the Edge of the World

Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, this is a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. It features a neurodivergent main character (own voices), the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes, and some rather complicated romance!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

A Dancer’s Journey – unconventional romance

A Dancer's Journey, a 3 book series by Ailish Sinclair. Unconventional romance.

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this wild mix of romance and ballet set between a Scottish castle and London.

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more. Read all the blurbs here

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance.

Posts on the inspiration behind these stories:

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair


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37 Replies to “Dunnideer Vitrified Hillfort and Leith Hall Garden”

    1. Well, maybe not when raining! I’m not sure of the date of the lions, there’s one on each gatepost of the walled garden. The House is 17th century but the garden came later in the 19th and 20th, with much work being done in the early 20th. It looks like there’s water wear on the sandstone lions so they could be quite old?

  1. How absolutely beautiful and so inspiring. I could almost feel stories popping into my head. My family came from Islay many, many years ago and I’d love to get to Scotland and check it out. Meanwhile, a friend of mine is filling the gap and has the flag on her car etc. You don’t get too many people prouder than a Scot! xx Rowena

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