Strichen Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire

Strichen Stone Circle

I walked past the sign to Strichen Stone Circle on my road to winter journey on Saturday. That’s actually as close as I got to the stones. It was just a wee trip out.

Strichen Stone Circle

I’ve been many times before, though, so here we go.

Every time I’ve visited this site, it’s been a dull day. But the stones are still majestic and bold.

recumbent and flankers at Strichen Stone Circle

This circle was knocked down in the 19th century, then put back in the wrong place, then built into a folly, then excavated, and finally placed back in its original position in 1982.

recumbent stone at Strichen Stone Circle

The recumbent looks like it may have been used for something at some point, to hold a post possibly?

Strichen Stone Circle

You can see the old burnt-out Strichen House from the circle.

Strichen House in Aberdeenshire

A Stone Circle in Books

A stone circle appears in all my books, the new naughty ones too, but it is particularly important to the people of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. The stones of Aikey Brae feature on the cover.

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailsih Sinclair

Set in 1st century Scotland, the novel includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The story features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance…

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Ethereal and spellbinding” Historical Novel Society

Elizabeth Felt, a lecturer in English at the University of Wisconsin, had this to say about it: “The tone of this book is amazing. At the beginning, the narrator is mute, and the book feels so quiet, so in touch with the earth and stone and air and water… Amazing writing. Excellent story. Highly recommend.” See the whole review here.

Article: Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair
The most highlighted part of the book

Pointing you to some more stones

sign to Strichen Stone Circle

And A Dancer’s Journey:

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

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 special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Scottish author Ailish Sinclair at Berrybrae Stone Circle

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

Drum Castle and Three Stone Circles

the one castle of the post: Drum Castle

The Castle: Drum

On our last visit to Drum Castle, the one castle of this post, it was raining. So on the way to explore circles, we took a walk through the gardens, having missed them before. They were filled with the bright sights and scents of summer, the castle peeking round corners and through trees everywhere we went.

Originally posted 2015.

medieval tower in Drum castle

Circle 1: Cullerlie

Cullerlie Stone Circle is unusual for Aberdeenshire in that it is not a recumbent circle. There’s only one photo as we were distracted by an elderly dog from the farm that wanted us to throw a stick.

Cullerlie Stone Circle, next up from the Drum Castle

Circle 2: Sunhoney

More animals awaited at Sunhoney; an excited herd of cows ran alongside the path with us…

path to Sunhoney, further on from Drum Castle

They then jostled and jiggled for the best view at the perimeter of the circle enclosure.

lineup of cows

I fear we were a disappointment. There were signs that other visitors may have danced (trampled grass) and provided snacks (rolled oats all over the place) whereas we mainly sat quietly and took photos.

Sunhoney Stone Circle

The recumbent stone at Sunhoney has many carved cup marks but lichen and light conditions were not helpful in capturing them on camera (note rolled oats though).

cupmarks

The cows gave us doleful looks as we left and did not follow us back down the path.

Circle 3: Midmar Kirk

There were no animals to greet us at Midmar Kirk Circle, again an unusual site, situated in a churchyard.

Midmar

While it was common for churches to be built on older sacred sites, it is unusual for the originals to have been left intact (almost, there are a few stones missing).

standing stone and graves
church and stones

Finishing with an apology to the cows – we’ll try harder next time – and the view from the roof of Drum Castle:

window in Drum Castle roof, one castle

All my books feature a stone circle. Some have a castle too.

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

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.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

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

Witchcraft and a Handsome Laird

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Tonya Ulynn Brown: “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read…

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Kidnapping, Slavery and Friendship

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

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.

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie

The rocking stones of Auchmaliddie

The Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie, situated near the village of New Deer in Aberdeenshire, are thought to be the remnants of a recumbent stone circle. Only the large recumbent and one flanker remain. They are made of white quartz which lights up under the moon and sparkles in the sunlight. What an impressive circle it would have been when whole! Most recumbent circles in the Grampian region are aligned to moon cycles so moonlight quite possibly featured in their use.

They are still beautiful, I think. Even in driving hail, as they were when I visited recently.

close up of the quartz of the rocking stones of auchmaliddie
The quartz.

The black line there is comprised of straw bales wrapped in plastic. The stones are located at the edge of a field.

The rocking stones of Auchmaliddie.

Folklore of the Rocking Stones

Local folklore suggests that the stones, also known as the Muckle (huge) Stanes of Auchmaliddie, were once placed on top of one another. It is said that if a person were to stand on them and tell a lie, the top stone would tip.

The rocking stones of Auchmaliddie

A Stone Circle, Destroyed

The rocking stones have fared better than the stone circle that stood on the hill, just a mile or so away, at the other side of the village. In the 18th century it was smashed up and used in the foundations of the new manse. Bad luck is said to befall anyone who lives on the surrounding lands. The nearby farm is called Standing Stones. Below is the hillside where the circle would have been, Culsh Monument to the right.

The Culsh Monument, New Deer, Aberdeenshire

In other news, I did a wee interview over on Relationships are Complicated.com here.

Quote from interview: My next historical novel explores the relationship between two chosen sisters who flee abuse together as young children. They are as close as two people can be and I am still working on conveying that closeness and the deep understanding that exists between these young women as they negotiate their own romantic liaisons with men, both approved and unapproved by their community, and as their Bronze Age society marches into war. (Now published. See SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD).

If you liked this article on the Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie, you might like to explore my other stone circle posts here.

Or maybe my books, all of which feature a stone circle:

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

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

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

feet

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails. They’re a more intimate space than the blog and always include some exclusive photos.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Easter Aquorthies Stone Circle

Purple flowers at Easter Aquorthies

Easter Aquorthies Circle

Easter Aquorthies, also known as East Aquorthies, is sometimes described as a ‘show circle’ and recommended as a good first stone circle to visit. This is due to its near perfect condition and position: all stones are present and upright; the grass always seems to have been manicured to a close shave, and the views of the surrounding countryside are magnificent. It’s also very clearly signposted from the nearby town of Inverurie, making it easy to find and then park in its small car park.

Blue skies over a stone circle

Bennachie

The Mither Tap of Bennachie is apparent wherever you walk in and around the circle, looming majestic and large over your shoulder.

cows at Easter Aquorthies

The Recumbent Stone

The recumbent stone is unusual in that it has extra supporting stones on the inner side. I wonder what led to this arrangement. Did it fall and crush someone, in Neolithic or Bronze Age times, causing new health and safety measures to be put in place? It is on a slope, so maybe it was just hard to make secure. I hope no one got crushed!

recumbent at Easter Aquorthies stone circle

Name Origin

The name is thought to derive from Gaelic and means either ‘field of prayer’ or ‘field of the stone pillar’. Most of the stones are granite but one, below, is red jasper.

The red jasper stone at Easter Aquorthies stone circle

Leaving Easter Aquorthies…

There are numerous tales of people finding it hard to exit Easter Aquorthies stone circle. Some describe walking away as being like trying to wade through treacle and report feeling as if the circle wants to keep them there. There are also stories of enticing music coming from under the ground.

On the day I visited, I really didn’t want to leave. I would rather have stayed sitting in the sun with my back up against one of the recumbent flankers, staring out over Bennachie.

I knew the next circle on my list to visit was going to be contrastingly tricky to find. And it was. But that’s a post for another day (see Tyrebagger here).

Leave I did, reluctantly, and a little later than planned. I encountered no treacle or music… but I have been left with a strong desire to return. Soon.

straight line of stones

All my books feature a stone circle.

A Dancer’s Journey:

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

These books are so naughty that I’m a little worried nobody will be able to look me in the face again after reading them. But not that worried. They’re heading out into the world anyway.

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…

See the series page here on the site for full blurbs and quotes

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair - dark and romantic books

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

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 chosen sisters, fierce warriors, a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

The Mermaid and the Bear

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. There’s also six chapters of medieval-style Christmas.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle, and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

About Page

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Updates

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.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Stone Circles, Henges and a Barrow

Aikey Brae, one of my favourite stone circles

It’s no secret that I love stone circles and other old stony places. I visit them. A lot. I hug them. Quite a bit. And I write about them. Aikey Brae, above, is my absolute favourite. The circle in my books is loosely based on this one. I’ve blogged about it here in the snow and here after the trees were felled.

Today I’m sharing some older photos of ancient sites that I’ve not used before, so they may not be too perfect, but I hope they capture the spirit of these special places.

First, I’m going back in time, deep into the family-photo archives, and journeying out of Scotland to Wiltshire in England.

Avebury

Avebury stone circle

The great henge of Avebury, a circle with a village built right in the middle of it, is another of my favourites.

Peeking round a stone at Avebury
Avebury

West Kennet and Silbury

Nearby is West Kennet Long Barrow where I once found a candle burning (very naughty, such things could cause damage):

candle in West Kennet Long Barrow
West Kennet

Across the road from the barrow is the mysterious Silbury Hill.

Aberdeenshire Stone Circles

We have a nice wee henge in Aberdeenshire too at Broomend of Crichie, and the shape of the stones really remind me of Avebury. As does the fact that there was once an avenue of stones leading to the circle.

Broomend of Crichie stone circle

And just down the river, in the old graveyard, is the Bass of Inverurie.

The Bass of Inverurie

The Bass is a natural hill that has been shaped. It’s been home to a Motte and Bailey castle and there have been older worked flint objects found there too.

Did someone create a diminutive complex similar to that of Avebury? I wonder…

Some lovely Pictish stones stand beside the Bass today, un-huggable in their new glass case.

Pictish stones by the Bass of Inverurie

The countryside of the Inverurie area is rich in standing stones and circles too. Easter Aquorthies lies a couple of miles away from the Bass. I’ve blogged about it here.

Easter Aquorthies Stone Circle

And, not too far away, is Loanhead of Daviot Recumbent Stone Circle, one that I’m writing about just now as it plays a part in the story of SISTERS.

At Daviot:

Ailish at Loanhead of Daviot Recumbent Stone Circle

Wonderful Blogs

The Wee Writing Lassie asked me 7 intrusive questions! Go to her blog to see them.

Sally Cronin reviewed FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE on her wonderful Smorgasbord Blog Magazine: “This book is well researched, bringing history to life and the writing flows smoothly like hot chocolate as it warms on a cold day. It is a coming of age and love story which will have you holding your breath on occasion as Elizabeth comes to terms with her future.See the whole review here.

Tyrebagger stone circle
Tyrebagger Circle near Aberdeen

Newsletter

I hope you’ve enjoyed my wee journey into the ancient past. 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.

Books (stone circle included!)

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, 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.

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

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

About Page

Castle Fraser Circle
Path through crop to Castle Fraser stone circle

My About Page 

Writer’s Tip Jar

Summer Solstice at Aviemore Stone Circle

Roses bloom in Aviemore stone circle

Aviemore Stone Circle is unusual, though not unique, in that it is situated in the middle of a housing estate.

On the day I visited – Summer Solstice 2019 – roses were blooming at the edge of the circle, adding to the magical atmosphere of the place. The houses don’t detract from that, bushes and trees lending some privacy to the ancient stones.

Aviemore stone circle in the sun

Solstice Sun

The sun was newly risen and bright; patches of ground seemed almost luminescent. There’s often a special light quality at stone circles, whether they’re in an open urban setting like this, or tucked away within dark forests. Maybe the mind just tends toward mysticism among these mysterious old standing stones.

Under the rowan tree

People had left mementos or offerings in the Rowan tree, perhaps treating the site like a clootie well?

ribbons tied to a tree by the stone circle

Clouds gathered overhead as I left the circle, on my way to an utterly amazing breakfast just round the corner at the Mountain Cafe (no longer there, sadly).

Aviemore stone circle and house

If you liked this post on Aviemore Stone Circle, you might also like:

There’s a stone circle in all my books:

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

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.

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

Taking place mainly in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

And A Dancer’s Journey:

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

These books are so naughty that I’m a little worried nobody will be able to look me in the face again after reading them. But not that worried. They’re heading out into the world anyway.

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…

See the series page here on the site for full blurbs and quotes

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair - dark and romantic books
feet

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.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Culloden and Clava: Battlefield and Cairns

Fraser Clan Stone on Culloden Moor

This post details a 2014 trip to Culloden Battlefield and the nearby Clava Cairns.

Off We Go

A bright blue sky day. Good for a journey up the coast and into the past. I stopped to take a picture of the anchor on the hill in Macduff.

Macduff, anchor and church

A couple of hours and many miles later, the skies had clouded.

Culloden Moor

Culloden Battlefield

The visitor centre at Culloden is high-tech, swish, clean and pristine, all the things the bloody battle of the past was not. The contrast always gets me. I sit on a soft red sofa looking out at the battlefield, eating my delicious lentil soup and enjoying decadent chocolate cake in comfort and warmth.

Compare that to being one of the Jacobite clansmen, having marched across boggy rough terrain in the dark all night, exhausted, starving, about to be slaughtered in a fight so unfairly matched that it was all over in one hour. What would he think of Culloden Moor today and the nice day out it provides for families and tourists?

Out on the battlefield, things feel more authentic, more memorial. Red flags mark the government line:

flag on Culloden Moor

Clan stones over mass graves:

clans stone
field of the English

Old Leanach Cottage is dated about 1760, several years after the battle, but is said to stand on the site of an earlier cottage that was used as a field hospital for government troops:

cottage at Culloden

People leave offerings:

tartan offering at Culloden

After a little look at the peaceful, cud-chewing, Highland cattle, it’s time to visit some ancient standing stones.

The Clava Cairns

Victorian Grove

Here ancient burial cairns (estimated at about 4000 years old) are surrounded by circles of stone and trees. It’s the perfect peaceful place to visit after Culloden.

Clava Cairns

You can walk right into two of the three cairns, though the entrance tunnel would have been covered in the past: you would have had to crawl.

into the cairn

Some of the standing stones are high and shaped, rather like enormous graves:

standing stone rectangular, at Clava

Let’s finish with one of the aforementioned Highland Coos. There’s four of them in a field next to Culloden.

Highland Cow

Also see the post about the Cumberland Stone.

Cumberland Stone, by Culloden in the Scottish Highlands

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, out April 1st, is set at the time of Culloden and inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

feet

See my About Page here

Newsletter sign-up

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

Writer’s Tip Jar

Persephone and the Maiden Stone

Persephone
the maiden stone

The Maiden Stone

The beautiful pink granite Maiden Stone stands near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. It is an 8th century Pictish stone. On one side it bears designs favoured by the Picts, such as the comb and mirror, the mysterious Pictish Beast (Dolphin? Elephant? Mermaid? Nobody knows…) and a centaur at the top.

centaur at the top of the Maiden Stone

On the other side there is a very worn Celtic Cross, indicating that this may have been an early Christian preaching site.

the Maiden Stone, cross side

Maiden Stone Folklore

There’s a rather wonderful tale attached to the stone.

A maid from Durno was baking a batch of bannocks one morning when a handsome man appeared at her door. He bet her that he could build a road up the hill of Bennachie before she could finish baking the bannocks. If he won, she had to marry him. Unfortunately, the man was actually the devil, and he built the road with great speed. The maid ran. He chased after. Just as he caught up to her, she prayed to be turned to stone rather than have to wed him. The notch on the stone is where the devil grabbed her shoulder as she transformed.

The Statue of Persephone

Persephone

A couple of hundred yards to the west of the Maiden Stone, in the woods, is a statue of Persephone. She was carved from 8.5 tonnes of millstone grit in 1961 by the artist Shaun Crampton, and her story echoes that of the Maiden Stone. In the Greek myth, Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the harvest, was carried off to the underworld by Hades to become his wife. Zeus decreed that she should be released as long as she had not eaten anything in the underworld. But, poor quine, she had consumed some pomegranate seeds. So she only got to return for six months of the year, the six months of growth and harvest.

The statue holds some pomegranate seeds in one hand, and a mirror like the one on the Maiden Stone in the other.

Persephone near the Maiden Stone in Aberdeenshire

On the day I visited, someone had left a pomegranate at her feet.

pomegranate at Persephone's feet

And, like the Maiden Stone, the back of the statue is worth viewing too.

Back of Persephone

Contemporary Fiction

A Dancer's Journey, a 3 book series by Ailish Sinclair. Romantic suspense.

These books are so naughty that I’m worried nobody will be able to look me in the face again after reading them. But not that worried. A Dancer’s Journey is dancing out into the world, titles releasing in October, November and December 2023.

See the series page here for blurbs and quotes.

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Historical Fiction

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

The historical novels of Ailish Sinclair

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Tip Jar

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill

the hanging stone, Rosehearty
Mounthooly Doocot

Searching for the Hanging Stone

A couple of years ago, I decided to look for the Hanging Stone near Rosehearty, here in Aberdeenshire. It’s a witch stone, a place of historical execution and, according to local folklore, ‘dooking’ as well.

I knew the stone was in the vicinity of the Mounthooly Doocot (pigeon house), pictured above and below, so headed there first.

*Experiences mild jealousy of past self, so gung-ho in the ability to just get up and go out.*

Mounthooly Doocot

Turning 360 degrees, searching the skyline, the stone was finally spotted, embedded in a dry-stane dyke. That’s a dry-stone wall; there’s a great art and skill to building these traditional field boundaries.

The Hanging Stone on the horizon.

I walked from the Mounthooly car park, along narrow roads and then up the field.

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

And there it was. The stone was quite tall, much taller than me, and wrapped round with barbed wire, which seemed somehow appropriate, given its dark past.

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

History of the Hanging Stone

The Hanging Stone is quite possibly an ancient standing stone which later came to be associated with execution. It’s very square. Carved that way, I think.

Nearby is ‘The Pit’, said to have been ‘for witches’ and to have been used for ‘dooking’. This was a practice that involved testing someone in water to see if they would sink or float, and thereby prove if they were a witch or not. I did not see The Pit, and, as I walked away, focused my attention on the great beauty of the ocean views.

The stone on the Canmore archaeological site

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

Latest Book

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Set in 1st century Scotland, and featuring the cliffs and caves of Cullykhan Bay, 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

feet

Read all about me here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include 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.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Finding Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle is so deep in the woods that it is almost impossible to find. There are many little paths that look like they might lead into it from the main track, but the one that actually does? Virtually hidden. I succeeded in finding it again in 2020. And it was wonderful.

One stone from the circle in Loudon Wood

Within the circle glade, it was peaceful. It was warm. It was calm.

sunshine over Loudon Wood Stone Circle

There was a brief rain shower while I was there, and even that felt gentle and soft, in direct contrast to the horizontal in-the-face precipitation we often get here.

Loudon Wood Stone Circle

I didn’t want to leave. Surrounded by dense trees, the circle felt separate from the somewhat crazed world outside. It made me think of the person who commented on a recent Instagram post, saying that the image freed them from ‘all the bullshit’ for a moment. This was that picture:

ox-eye daisy

Loudon Wood Stone Circle is like that too. Free of things that can maybe be symbolised by this beer made by a local brewery:

Brewdog's Barnard Castle beer

The stones are old. True. Dignified and simple.

Recumbent stone in Loudon Wood

And the pathway out? Easy to find.

pathway through the woods

You can read an interview I did recently on The Trainee Journalist blog: Novels by North-east author tell unheard stories from the past.

And there’s a nice review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR over on Goodreads here. “The ending is gorgeous and deeply moving. I had a hard time putting the book down. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, love stories, tragedies, and the resilience of love, kindness, and faith.”

The Mermaid and the Bear

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.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Scottish author Ailish Sinclair at Berrybrae Stone Circle
At Berrybrae…

Explore more stone circles with me by signing up to the mailing list.

See the About Page here.