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

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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.

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Ailish Sinclair in a tree...

Read all about little old me here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Turn Left for Tyrebagger Stone Circle

Tyrebagger Stone Circle in the distance, misty trees beyond

Tyrebagger Recumbent Stone Circle is near Aberdeen, situated on the hill behind the airport and overlooking the Kirkhill Industrial Estate.

The search for Tyrebagger

So, when my family and I went seeking this circle we thought it would be easy to find. Yes. Well. Google maps took us close. Very close in fact. But there’s nowhere to stop a car and get out on the dual carriageway, so no possibility of taking the app’s advice to ‘walk the rest of the way to your destination.’

We turned to directions found on the internet which took us up the side of the industrial estate and into the woods. But the last instruction, to turn right along the line of trees… there was no right there. We ended up lost and peering over gates and up tracks and across fields. But then, Google maps pinpointed the exact location of the stones and we retraced our steps.

‘”It’s somewhere in that direction…”

“Just the other side of those trees…”

“But how can we get through there?”

Until:

pathe to Tyrebagger Stone Circle

A circle, found!

A pathway was spotted – it had been there after all, but on the LEFT – and it had a certain look and feel about it. It reminded me of the path into the often elusive Loudon Wood circle. Sure enough, moments later the stones came into view over a gate and field, silhouetted against a misty looking forest.

Tyrebagger Stone Circle across the field

Tyrebagger Stone Circle proved well worth the search.

Tyrebagger Stone Circle

It’s a beautiful circle, with unusually tall stones.

Leaning stones at Tyrebagger

Outlander

Sometimes when I post stone circle photos on social media, people ask if they are the stones from Outlander, and I explain that those are fictional stones. But these do look a little like the ones used in the TV show. (Inverness Outlanders found another site that may be even more like it and have photographed it in all seasons here.)

Tall stones at Tyrebagger

I had heard that, due to its close proximity to Aberdeen, Tyrebagger sometimes has a graffiti problem. This was not the case on the day we visited. The stones stood tall and unblemished against the blue sky.

The recumbent of Tyrebagger Stone Circle

I liked the trees too, grey and tall like the stones.

Stones and trees

Mermaid Review

The book has had its first ever review here on the Lost in a Good Book blog.

This carefully researched story is based on true events in Aberdeen when cruel men gained power over innocent women by accusing them of witchcraft.  It is a horrifying story from our history, mirrored in other parts of the United Kingdom.  Thankfully in The Mermaid and the Bear the sadness is tempered by love and kinship in a believable and satisfying conclusion.  An enchanting novel.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Let’s finish with one last look at Tyrebagger…

Tyrebagger Stone Circle

A Dancer’s Journey – a contemporary series

A Dancer's Journey, a 3 book series by Ailish Sinclair. Dark and romantic books.

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

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 UK

Amazon Worldwide

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Keep up to date with all my news, leafy and otherwise, by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Balgorkar Stone Circle and Castle Fraser

Balgorkar Stone Circle
On the way to Balgorkar Stone Circle

This post details a day in 2014 when we set off to find Balgorkar Stone Circle and visited two castles and another circle too.

We headed off to look for the stones. But first there was a quick stop at Fraserburgh beach where the haar (Scottish word for mist that rolls in off the sea) hung low and filtered the sunlight in a silvery way. A seagull flew by as I took the photo.

Balgorkar Stone Circle

Inland we travelled, to bright sunshine and summer colours and the stones of Castle Fraser.

To the left in the picture below (click to see larger image) are two standing stones and to the right, in the distance by the trees, is Balgorkar Stone Circle (also known as Castle Fraser Stone Circle). The stones were visible from the road, so quite easily found.

standing stones and a Balgorkar stone circle

Up the side of the field we walked.

Balgorkar Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire

I thought we’d have to just view the stones from there, but no, some naughty person had trampled a pathway through the crop, so we did no further damage by walking it.

illicit path to Balgorkar stone circle

The recumbent and flankers, dark against the field:

Balgorkar stone circle

Castle Fraser

Next we visited Castle Fraser where I was meant to be doing research for writing on heraldry, historic dates and architecture. This took the form of running about taking photos:

Castle Fraser

I loved the rooftop and later wrote about it here.

turrets

Kildrummy Castle

Then, after picnicking, with only half the day gone, we decided to head to ruinous Kildrummy Castle, a few miles further on.

more serendipity at Kildrummy Castle - Ailish Sinclair, author

There in the reception was an old friend who I hadn’t seen for years. There was hugging and much talking. Other people got fed up waiting to be served… We kept saying it was amazing. My friend is currently doing a PhD in history, so some of our conversation became spontaneous research.

We finally moved on to look around:

great hall

I do appreciate the use of the adverb ‘treacherously’ there; without it we might think Osbourne the Blacksmith to have merely made a mistake or had an unfortunate accident such as tripping with a pot of molten metal or dropping a freshly forged sword.

window

Broomend of Crichie Stone Circle

The day ended with a visit to Broomend of Crichie stone circle, Pictish stone placed in the middle.

Broomend of Crichie

This blog post is ending in a rather unrelated way, with some ballet. It’s beautiful and romantic and only two minutes long. It’s Scottish Ballet performing at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Historical Fiction featuring a castle and a stone circle!

Sisters at the Edge of the World

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

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.

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!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

About Page

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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.

Drinnie’s Wood: Rapunzel Tower and Stone Circle

tower in Drinnie's Wood

The Tower in Drinnie’s Wood

Rapunzel’s Tower appears over the trees in Drinnie’s Wood, dark and mysterious, a fairytale setting at the top of a hill. No hair is let down in answer to my call. Maybe the newly installed CCTV reveals me to be neither prince nor abusive mother figure, so I am ignored? Or maybe the words on the council sign are true, and the Drinnie’s Wood Observatory really is only open May-September.

Onwards and upwards. And downwards. Up the wrong path and back again. Up another, almost identical, path and… ta-da!

The Elusive Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle by Drinnie's Wood

It evaded me for years, this place. The entry to the narrow path is hidden by low hanging pine branches, and it wasn’t until the advent of Google Earth that I finally pinpointed its exact location.

I do like the white tree that stands opposite the large recumbent stone:

Loudon Wood by Drinnie's Wood

Most stone circles in Aberdeenshire are imbued with a  deep peacefulness. This one seems alive somehow, buzzing with an undercurrent of ancient energy, like a radio still tuned to the past. Carved stone:

stones in Drinnie's Wood

Back to the Future

Back to the present and a newly planted wind turbine, another tower I would like to look inside; see the inviting steps and door at the bottom? Surprisingly large, up close – diagonal was the only way to get the whole thing in shot – and surprisingly quiet, whoosh-whooshing us gently into the future.

a modern tower by Drinnie's Wood

Also see:

Finding Loudon Wood Stone Circle

The Alligators and Follies of Pitfour Estate

Latest book

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

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

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

About Page

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See the 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

Aikey Brae Stone Circle in the Snow

Sunshine and snow at Aikey Brae stone circle. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

Beautiful Aikey Brae Stone Circle. Of the 150 or so recumbent circles in the North East of Scotland, this is my favourite.

The Stones in the Snow

I used to live close by and enjoyed many a summer picnic and winter stroll there. One year I watched a solar eclipse, with my children, sat right in the middle of the circle. The setting made it feel timeless and magical.

Fallen stones in the foreground here at Aikey Brae Stone Circle. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

The snow picks out detail and shape, makes the stones look different.

Down on the ground with the stones at Aikey Brae Stone Circle. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

The fallen stone on the right in this next picture must have popped right out of the ground when it fell, because you can see the carved point of the anchoring lower part.

Aikey Brae stone circle in the sun and snow | Ailish Sinclair, writer.

An Urban Stone

This pointy feature can also be seen on the Lang Stane, hidden away just off Union Street in Aberdeen, leading to the theory that it was once part of a stone circle too.

The Lang Stane in Aberdeen. Ailish Sinclair | Writer

But back to the sun and snow at Aikey, and the smiling recumbent.

The huge recumbent stone at Aikey Brae stone circle.

The stones on a book cover

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Let’s finish up by staring through the gap between recumbent and flanker, to the world beyond. The stones in this picture, from Aikey Brae Stone Circle, feature on the cover of my book SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.

Looking through the stones to the landscape beyond

Quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR:

stone circle quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR

A Dancer’s Journey – a contemporary series

A Dancer's Journey, a 3 book series by Ailish Sinclair. Dark and romantic books.

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

On the flat stone of Aikey Brae Stone Circle

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 UK

Amazon Worldwide

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See my About Page here

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 bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Aikey Brae: the North Wind Doth Blow

Aikey Brae Recumbent Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Trees Felled at Aikey Brae

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.

Originally posted 2020.

This was the first sighting of the stones after walking up the, admittedly, much improved and cleared, track:

Megalithic stones on the horizon

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.

Aikey Brae stone circle ahead!

Running to the circle

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:

Recumbent stone at Aikey Brae

It still felt different. With no treeline 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.

Stone at Aikey Brae

Cold.

The stone circle at Aikey Brae

Things Change

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.

Three prehistoric stones

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.

Two tall stones at Aikey Brae stone circle

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

My Books

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

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 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, 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

feet

See my About Page 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

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

Into the Woods…

Ailish Sinclair goes into the woods

It’s three weeks until TENDU releases (update: out now). It’s been a long time coming, and a lot of my heart is in that book. I need to go into the woods.

So, here we go, through different times and places, for the lush calm of the trees and the quiet stillness of the loch.

Into the woods: loch

The hill behind the loch:

Into the woods...

I need ancient stones too. Trees surround Berrybrae stone circle:

Into the woods by Berrybrae

Berrybrae features in one of my sillier nocturnal TikTok/YouTubes (medication still preventing sleep):

On to a different woodland and another stone circle. The remains of Dunnideer:

Dunnideer stone circle under the trees

And finally, Huntly Castle appears at the end of a tree-lined drive, just like the castle in the book does, though the fictional one is not a ruin.

Huntry Castle: into the woods

Quote from TENDU:

Two majestic stone pillars, one topped with a mermaid and the other with a fearsome-looking bear, loomed large for a second and then were gone. It was properly dark between the densely packed trees that lined both sides of the single-track road. Everyone was quiet, looking ahead, awaiting the first view of the castle.

It burst into sight, all pink and floodlit at the end of the forest tunnel.

Tendu: Dancing in the Castle

Tendu 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.

She’s soon dealing with her boyfriend’s obsessive ex, the strange research taking place at the castle school and her own ever-evolving relationship issues.

Amalphia works hard to be the best dancer she can be, but as tension builds within the old walls of the castle, she begins to wonder if she will ever escape the dank dark of the dungeon…

Dark, witty, steamy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

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