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Scotland - Kirkton of Bourtie-Stone Circles

Updated on September 28, 2010
Gary's first shot of the Kirton of Bourtie... as his enthusiasm rises there will be many many more!
Gary's first shot of the Kirton of Bourtie... as his enthusiasm rises there will be many many more!

When we stayed with Marion and Kiji in Inverurie, a small village in a small hamlet in Aberdeenshire we were first introduced to Stone Circles.

Not having the foggiest idea of what a stone circle really was, we were not prepared for the magic, the history or wonderment we would feel as we wandered throughout the countryside seeking out these amazing treasures.

Our first encounter was a glimpse of a 5000 year old Pictish stone circle through the living room window of their 17th century stone home. At that moment we were filled with magical wonderment... and through Marion's passion, stories and love we were hooked on stone circles.

The Kirkton of Bourtie turns out to be a massive recumbent stone circle. When I first heard these words I had no idea of what this meant.

The Recumbent with one flanker.  Can you see the little pass way?
The Recumbent with one flanker. Can you see the little pass way?
What a beautiful place to be.
What a beautiful place to be.

I have now learned that over 100 recumbent stone circles have been located. They are mostly found in the northeast region of Scotland and are particularly concentrated in farming areas on rolling hills. They tend to be often located on the shoulder of the hill with a good southern horizon view.

The circles are usually made up of pairs of stones graded in height with the tallest pair located in the southwest quadrant flanking a much larger stone lying on its side... the recumbent.

The recumbent and flankers are much larger and seem to have been chosen carefully as they are of a different composition and color than the rest of the stones found in the circle.

The surprising thing is that all of the stones were brought in from different locations long distances away from the circle site. While it would have been possible for a small number of workers - perhaps a dozen - to transport the smaller stones. It could have taken close to a hundred people to drag the Kirton of Bourtie recumbent stone the 6 - 20 miles. This I find truly amazing.

While the Kirkton of Bourtie is the longest known recumbent measuring at 17 feet and weighing 30 tons there is one at the Old Keig which weighs over 50 tons.

It appears that the three major stones were laid out first and then the circle was attached. Many believe that the sites were used as ceremonial centers for communal activities associated with the land and fertility. Marion showed us a "pass" way near the recumbent and one of it's flanker. It is believed that a baby could be literally passed from this life to another through this pass way. Marion thought it was used to bless or heal babies during ceremony...

One of the funniest things I noticed about experience the circle is the playfulness and joy I felt around these stones. Gary had a passion to capture the magic and it seemed that I had a desire to interact with them. Spontaneously I began to soot a series of photos which I call "Shadow in Stone". I will leave you with a sampling to enjoy.

The sun rose and along with it giddy abandonment!
The sun rose and along with it giddy abandonment!
Such great fun.
Such great fun.


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    • GPSWorldTraveler profile image

      GPSWorldTraveler 7 years ago from Washington State, USA

      We saw around 13 throughout all of UK - more spectacular stories to tell,all different. Really glad you enjoy them!

    • profile image

      tlchang 7 years ago

      I love seeing these stone circle entries. How many did you guys end up seeing in the end? (they are one of my *favorite* things)