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

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

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a tree...

Read all about little old me here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Unconventional Romance and Historical Fiction

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair - unconventional romance

I write unconventional romance and historical fiction, often set in Aberdeenshire, the area of Scotland where I live. My historical novels combine little-known dark events with love stories. There are witches, bears and Romans to be found in them, detailed here. My contemporary work is much, much naughtier, though still dark, and available now.

I take a LOT of photos as is evidenced throughout the site.

Here on the blog, I write about castleshistorystone circlesdance, living with chronic illness, and writing. See my about page here.

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

Historical Fiction

The historical novels of Ailish Sinclair

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

The Romans called it the edge of the world

Further Insight

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here.

Ballet feet en pointe, legs in jeans

Bluebells, just Bluebells

pink bluebelles
Pink bluebells
Bluebells in the garden

Bluebells. They seem to be everywhere this year.

In the unmowed grass:

Wild bluebells
Bells of the wild lawn

In the woods. They make blue carpets of themselves there…

Bluebells in the woods
In the woods

And, along with pink and white purslane, they line the pathways and fill the air with intoxicating sweetness.

A path of bluebells
Bluebells and pink purslane

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair, and a harp

My debut novel, The Mermaid and the Bear, was published by GWL Publishing in 2019.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Aspects of the book:

  • It’s mainly set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire.
  • It incorporates the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic.
  • There’s a stone circle.
  • There’s 16th century Christmas.
  • And there’s a love story.
The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Further insight:

Aesthetic for The Mermaid and the Bear, Ailish Sinclair's debut novel
Mermaid aesthetic

About Page

Ailish in the stones

Bio, socials, articles and interviews.

Newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. It’s a more intimate space than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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Swooning Among the Flowers

swooning pot
Swooning pot on the patio

From Vocabulary.com: To swoon is to faint, due to lack of blood to the brain. Illness, fear, stress, and even happiness can cause people to swoon.

Any bit of exertion carries such a risk for me just now, or, at least, I need to lie down after it.

swooning under the cherry blossom
Cherry blossom

But I have to walk – slowly – among the flowers. They’re just so beautiful.

swooning by the pond
Marsh marigolds

Exhaustion levels are deep this time, this flare, this recovery. So are thoughts. Realisations. Illness can bring great clarity. And that’s good. It will lead to better things, better times. I think. I hope.

swoony flowers
Flowering currant

A minuscule amount of gardening has been achieved; no swooning involved!

potting plants

A Dancer’s Journey Series

Swooning books: A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

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…

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this wild mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise that castle and the stone circle in these books.

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

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance. Shoes ready for pointe work.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Ethereal and spellbinding... says the Historical Novel Society of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land…

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

About Page

Ailish's feet

Bio, socials, articles and interviews.

Newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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Pointe Work and a Daring Leotard

pointe work and a red leotard
Ready for pointe work. Photographer: Darian Volkova

Reflections

Looking back on this post from a year ago. Reflecting on the past twelve months. Determining to stay well now. To not burn myself out again. In a year’s time I want to be writing about dancing around doing pointe work and getting books out and visiting castles and other lovely places. Maybe I’ll even wear a red leotard. Probably not to visit a castle. But, you never know… 😀

Back to the original post:

Would a strappy red leotard distract the eye from my puffer-fish face or accentuate it? The many thin straps of the garment crisscrossed my back in a pleasing design. It was different. It was daring. I wore it.

The above quote is from TENDU, the first book of A Dancer’s Journey, a romantic-suspense series. The main character, Amalphia, has just been through some relationship turmoil, again, and is returning to class after injury caused by an inappropriate level of pointe work. The red leotard gets her into a surprising amount of trouble.

Her injury came from being asked to perform every exercise in class en pointe. This is something that I took from my own life.

pointe work

Memories of Pointe Work

One week at college, our usual morning-class teacher – the late great Imogen Claire – was absent and a substitute put in place. This new teacher decided I needed to be stretched and pushed and had me do everything en pointe. Just me. Nobody else. This singling-out drew a few nasty looks from the other dancers. But really, there was nothing to be jealous about.

Because it really was everything. Every bend. Every jump. I love jumping en pointe. I still do it sometimes. But as a training method in morning class, this excessive pointe work made no sense. It removed the benefit of many of the exercises, and I limped off to the other lessons of the day improperly warmed-up.

After two days of this, my feet were sore. After a week, they were a mess. But then Imogen returned with her no-nonsense approach to teaching and ballet, and I healed.

Imogen Claire and Christopher Biggins in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Imogen looks through her glasses in disapproval (Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975). Christopher Biggins, to the left there, once said very insightful things to me while judging my annual assessment at college.

There was no need for extra pointe work as we were blessed with a specialist teacher for that. At first I was surprised to learn that the class was taught by a man, but Gary Harris was a true expert on the subject, performing all the steps en pointe himself in his soft trainers at the front of the studio.

So, dance-school memories indulged, it’s time to head back into the next manuscripts. There’s a connected series coming…

A Dancer’s Journey Series

Pointe work: A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

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…

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this wild mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

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

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance. Shoes ready for pointe work.

More Posts with Dance Content

Newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Ethereal and spellbinding... says the Historical Novel Society of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land…

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

My About Page

Ailish's feet

Read my bio and see all the social links and articles here.

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Midnight Marauder

Midnight marauder - badger!
The Midnight Marauder

Every night, without fail, a badger visits the garden to eat scraps and leftovers that we leave out for him.

Midnight marauder - badger!

He’s been coming for years. Though, realistically, of course, it’s not only one badger. But we always speak about him or her as if it is.

Sometimes two come together. After eating, they run about in a frenzy before disappearing into the woods.

Midnight marauder - badger!

The lighter nights made these photos of the earlier-than-usual visit possible.

I swayed there at the back door in my floaty, shaky, just-home-from-hospital state and basically revelled in the badger’s joy and exuberance.

Feels like my song just now…

Health Update

I injected myself with my new medication yesterday. Another intervention to stop my body attacking itself. We’ll see if this one works. I have hope 🙂

Daffodils
Daffodils beside a battered birch tree

My Books – a Mix of Light and Dark

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

Read the contemporary series that’s shocking people! It’s available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

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…

Review snippets:

Deanne Patterson on Tendu: It broke my heart and then healed it and made it sing. Full review here.

Molly H on Cabriole: It’s truly one of the best books I’ve ever read and made me feel SO MANY FEELINGS. Full review here – some spoilers.

Tom Williams on Fouetté: I galloped through it, loving every moment. Full review here – some spoilers, especially if you haven’t read Cabriole.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair

Historical Titles

My historical novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

The historical novels of Ailish Sinclair

Amazon

About Page

Ailish Sinclair

See the page here

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Home

Just that. Nothing else. All that’s needed 🙂

home

Cannula Days Are Here Again

Cannula days
Cannula Days; Hospital Windows

A small update. About why I’ve been quiet. Things got darker fast, and I’m back in hospital.

Ten days in so far. No answers as to quite what my autoimmune body is doing yet. Hoping for success in suppressing it, though.

So, cannula in. Audiobooks on.

Normal service will be resumed at some point. But I don’t know when…

Another window

BINGE THE SERIES that’s shocking people

Cannula days: a dancer’s journey

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

Series on Amazon worldwide

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…

Historical Dark and Romantic Books 

My historical novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

The historical novels of Ailish Sinclair

Amazon Worldwide

About Page

Ailish Sinclair

See the page here

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Lost City of Lenabo Woods

Demolished building in Lenabo Woods

Just like everyone else at the moment (originally posted 2020 during lockdown), I am not able to gallivant around filling my phone with pictures of interesting places. However, during my daily scroll to find #goodthings to post on Instagram and Twitter, I found photos of Lenabo Woods taken in 2017. I had meant to blog about the site back then, but didn’t get round to it.

So, take my hand, virtually, and we’ll walk through what was once the setting of Britain’s most northerly airship base.

Lenabo Woods

Lenabo woods near Longside

The Lost City

RNAS Longside was active from 1916 to 1920. 1500 personnel were based at the station and the site boasted a swimming pool, a theatre, shops, a church and gas works. All of those buildings are long gone, but some things remain.

Officers' Mess in Lenabo Woods

The above wall is thought to have been part of the officers’ mess.

Memorial plaque below:

Memorial plaque in Lenabo Woods

The fireplace within:

fireplace at Lenabo

Throughout the woods, remnants of various structures are to be seen, such as these airship moorings:

airship moorings at Lenabo

Buildings swept away:

remains of a WW1 building at Lenabo

Lenabo Soo

The site was known locally as RNAS Lenabo and the ships referred to as ‘Lenabo Soo’, soo being the local name for female pigs!

It’s fun to imagine the bustling community that lived at Lenabo for those four years, swimming in the pool, attending the theatre, and, of course, maintaining and operating the airships.

Well, this has been a pleasant virtual walk today (I’ll let your hand go now) and Lenabo will be a good place to explore in person again once things have calmed down.

Building remains on Lenabo Woods

Pinterest

I forgot to mention in my last post that I’ve made a Pinterest board for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, my second historical novel – see info page on it here.

Review

Thanks to Reading is my Yoga for this beautiful #bookstagram picture and review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR: “While the first part put an almost constant smile on my face, the second part made me cry ugly tears.”

See the whole review here and the book is now free on Kindle Unlimited.

The Mermaid and the Bear, bookstagram photo

Naughty Contemporary Fiction

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

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

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…

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

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

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

My Latest Historical Novel

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

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

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a stone circle

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

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Is the Real Stone of Scone Hidden at Finlaggan?

Stone, though not the real Stone of Scone, at Finlaggan

That’s definitely not the real Stone of Scone above. It’s an ancient standing stone at Finlaggan on the Isle of Islay.

But is the official stone, the one pictured below, the real stone? See BBC article about this stone as it heads south to be used in the latest coronation.

Official, maybe not real stone of scone

History of the Real Stone of Scone

The Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny, was used in the inauguration of Scottish Kings for centuries. In 1296 the English King, Edward I, took the stone from Scotland and incorporated it as part of his new ‘Coronation Chair’. Or did he?

Fobbed Off and Spirited Off?

Early mentions of the stone describe it as black and shiny, polished and beautiful. It’s rumoured that Edward was fobbed off with a worthless rock that was actually a drain cover, while the real stone was spirited off and hidden safely away.

One legend states that the original stone was buried at Finlaggan, the medieval Seat of the Lordship of the Isles, by Angus Og of Clan Donald.

Finlaggan is a quiet and remote place. It’s easy to believe that it might hide secrets.

grave at finlaggan. Is the real stone of scone hidden here?

An archaeological dig there was abandoned when money ran out.

Finlaggan, the site of the real stone of scone?

If the stone is at Finlaggan, I suspect it might be on the Council Island, the place of important discussions and decisions. Maybe the island was also the site of a few laughs about kingly bottoms sitting over what was actually a drain plug?

The Council Island at Finlaggan.

More articles and posts

Older article about the stone from the Herald, referencing Finlaggan: So which is fake, and which the genuine article?

See my earlier post about visiting Islay

Historical Novel Society Review of Sisters

“In the vein of Lucy Holland’s Sistersong with the narrative style of Rena Rossner’s The Sisters of the Winter Wood, Sinclair’s novel centers on two sisters and is told from Morragh’s point of view. The prose is deeply personal to Morragh’s struggles.”

See the whole review here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide/Barnes & Noble

Ethereal and spellbinding... says the Historical Novel Society of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

Newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My About Page

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

Read my bio and see all the social links and articles here.

Writer’s Tip Jar