Today’s excursion was simpler and more scenic. We headed first due east to Crathes Castle. This was the seat of the Burnett family from 1323, when Robert the Bruce gave them lands. According to one information sheet at the Castle, (though reported as ‘disputed’ on the web, e.g. Scotweb, who suggest they may have been French) the Burnetts were originally Anglo-Saxon nobles from Bedfordshire, displaced by William the Conqueror, and two branches of the family exiled themselves to Scotland, one branch ending up in Aberdeenshire. The Castle here now was built by Alexander Burnett in 1596, and its contents largely destroyed by a fire in 1966, at which point the then Laird gave the place to the National Trust for Scotland, who have restored it well, and filled it with lots of historical nik-naks to surround the scant remnants of Burnett family life that survive.
My principal interest in visiting, however, is that in the ‘Warren Field,’ a short walk down the hill from the Castle, in 2004, archaeologists found the footings of a huge Neolithic Timber Hall.
This came to my attention in July this year, when a National Trust news story arrived in my inbox revealing that further study of what had been excavated pointed to a Mesolithic Soli-Lunar Calendar in the same field. Yes – a Mesolithic Calendar, dating some five thousand years older than any time measuring device in the Middle East, to 8000BC in Aberdeenshire. This is quite Earth shattering news for the world of Archaeology, and the Birmingham University Archaeologists who did this work are to be congratulated on this ground breaking work. Follow the links for more information.
From Crathes, we took road to the coast for a light lunch in a seaside pub in Stonehaven Harbour – a lovely sleepy fishing village fond of its rugby.
Taking the scenic route home, we headed south-west first down to Fettercairn, and then back north-east up the Cairn o Mount road, getting an amazing view of Stonehaven from 1493ft above it!
Finally, on the home stretch, we stopped at Aboyne cemetry to walk up the path into the woods and visit the delightful little Aboyne Stone Circle – just five stones remaining of what looked like could have been 8 or even 10. This seemed of a much older lineage than the Early Bronze Age recumbent stone circles we saw yesterday, but sported, nonetheless, a fine fleshy-pink granite stone amongst its remaining stones. Lovely ambience, under the trees, a peaceful, magical place.
Click on any picture in these blog posts to see all the photos in the Aberdeenshire set on Flickr