Easter Auquhorthies Stone Circle, Aberdeenshire

Stone circles are found in many parts of Scotland but recumbent stone circles are found only in north east Scotland. Some are modest in size and others are much larger. They would have served as focal points for the communities who built them and were associated with ritual, ceremony and burial.  The recumbent stone circle at Easter Aquhorthies measures 19.5m in diameter and consists of eleven erect stones, and which dates from about 4000 BC. It is almost perfectly circular in plan and has a recumbent stone and three adjacent stones. The stones vary in height and geological origin. There may have been a ring cairn and cist in the centre of the circle but this is as yet uninvestigated.  The stone circle at Easter Aquhorthies is one of about 100 stone circles in this area. It is a recumbent stone circle: a type peculiar to the north-east of Scotland and possibly contemporary with Henges (of Stonehenge fame). The alignment of a recumbent stone circle may be on the midsummer full moon: the recumbent slab flanked by the two pillars framed the moon for an observer standing in the centre of the circle.

This recumbent stone circle is at Easter Aquhorthies. It is built on the crest of a hill. The stones are graded in height with the flankers being the tallest. There may have been a ring cairn in the middle, but it is now only a slight bump in the ground. The circle consists of the recumbent, its two flankers, and a further nine slightly smaller stones. Two further stones stand in front of the recumbent which is 3.8 m long.  This almost perfect circle of stones is 19.5 m in diameter. The highest standing stones are the two grey granite flankers (more than 2 m in height). The recumbent of red granite is 3.8 m long. Two stones define an area in front of the recumbent's inner face. The circle consists in nine broad stones of pinkish porphyry and, in one case, red jasper, graded in height from 1.1 to 1.7 m.  In front of the recumbent are two large blocks which may suggest a previous use, that of a stone at the entrance to a tomb. The flankers are of grey granite and the recumbent a pinky grey granite from Bennachie. The outside face of the recumbent has been smoothed carefully.  The site has easy access but is very exposed and should be perhaps left for a calm day. If you look carefully you really can see the different colours of the stones used on this site and walk around the outside to see the back of the recumbent.  The site is on the Gordon District 'Stone Circle Trail' and is well sign posted from the Inverurie bypass. It is cared for by Historic Scotland, and there are information boards posted which detail the history of the site and maps to other sites on the trail (OS Map ref NJ 732207).

The  watercolour is view of the stone circle painted in 1870. The artist was Lady Sophia Dunbar. The stones are slightly more overgrown here than at present.

The other circle nearby is also called "Aquhorthies", and known as Aquhorthies North.

It is an unusual recumbent stone circle, lying on a gentle slope. Its ring-cairn is about 15 m in diameter and it is surrounded by an almost complete kerb of stones.  Ten standing and two fallen stones are the remains of an original circle of 28 uprights, 23 m in diameter. These stones are of red granite, as the 3 m long recumbent and its only surviving flanker are of grey granite.  The flanker is connected to the inner ring-cairn by a slab. 300 m to the south there is another much more ruined stone circle.

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