Aikey Brae Stone Circle (Aberdeenshire)

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

—Neil Armstrong
Aikey Brae Stone Circle

The weather was really beautiful yesterday afternoon – far too nice to stay indoors, so we decided to take a walk up Aikey Brae – hubby, myself and the dog. Aikey Brae Stone Circle is one of 150 stone circles in Aberdeenshire.

THE circle

The circle boasts 5 erect stones, including the recumbent and East flanker, plus 5 fallen stones, including the West flanker. They are set upon a circular bank of small stones and earth c.14.4m in diameter, with kerbs formed by slab-like stones on the inner and outer faces.

Most of the stones are granite, although the fallen West flanker and recumbent stone are both whinstone. The recumbent is estimated to weigh 21.5 tons!

Not all the stones are shown here, with the recumbent stone being just out of view on the left.

The walk

The walk up Aikey Brae is a really enjoyable walk which takes you right up and over the top of the hill and down the other side. We did the complete route and stopped to sit on one of the wooden benches to absorb the views and catch our breath. There are three wooden benches all placed in strategic viewing points along the hillside. There’s also a picnic bench at the top of the hill for walkers and families to stop and enjoy a seat or a bite to eat…. and what a location to do so with the stone circle in the background.

The views

The views across the wide open countryside are nothing short of stunning – a perfect location for this beautiful monument. The circle itself has a little deer path passing straight through it where roe deer and perhaps the odd fox or rabbit wander through when no-one’s around or looking. This is a relatively well worn path and you can clearly see it. It all adds to the intrigue and beauty of the scene.

Tree stumps

Care needs to be taken when visiting the site because there are raised tree roots above the surface of the ground all around the circle. A person could quite easily trip over these stumps if they aren’t mindful of where they are stepping. I’m not sure if the stumps are the result of trees felled by the forestry or perhaps the result of storm Arwin (or a mix of both), but the circle would once have been hidden from view and located on the far outside edge of this once densely populated tree area. Now the circle is wide open to the rest of the countryside and can be seen from the road on the opposite side of the hill which is a good half mile away. The Forestry Commission has made an attempt to replant new trees, but nothing like as many as there would have been originally.

As aforementioned, there are 150 stone circles in the Aberdeenshire area, but I’ve only ever visited this one.

Sunset

I decided to return an hour before sunset to capture an image of the sunset casting a goodnight kiss of glorious light across the stones. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the dramatic sunset I was hoping for, but it did bathe the hillside in a slightly warm golden glow for a short while and then it was gone.

Mystery solved (partially):

Aikey Brae stone circle was built by a farming community some time around 4,000 years ago. It is reached via a sign-posted minor road that heads south from the B9029 approximately mid-way between Maud and Old Deer. It was probably built as a means of charting the passing of the seasons by plotting the lunar cycle. The usual pattern was for these circles to fall out of use within a few hundred years, then for later generations of residents to use them as cremation cemeteries, eventually building a cairn in the centre of the circle. It is not clear whether that happened here, because although the circle itself is relatively undisturbed, the same cannot be said of the area within it. A dig in the centre of the circle by Charles Elphinstone-Dalrymple in the 1800’s revealed little of value and probably removed any evidence that might be available to later archaeologists.

The circle itself comprises ten stones and covers an area of 14.4m in diameter. The recumbent (probably) weighs 21.5 tonnes, and like its flankers, the upright stones standing at either end of it, is made of whinstone that must have been transported here from some distance away. The remaining stones are made of local granite and are graded in size, with the largest being next to the flankers and the smallest opposite the recumbent.

– Extract taken from Undiscovered Scotland

You can read more about the circle here: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/…/aik…/index.html

2 thoughts on “Aikey Brae Stone Circle (Aberdeenshire)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s