« PreviousContinue »
difficulty was found in getting the cattle to enter or stay in it; they seemed overcome with fear. The farmer sent for one of the "men" of Duthil, and asked his advice. After religious "exercises" the "man informed the farmer that the cause of the terror of the cattle was the presence of this stone as the lintel. The stone was removed and an ordinary stone substituted, and thenceforward the cattle occupied the byre in peace!
The second circle consisted of about seventy stones, of which sixty-six are visible in their places, one (K) has slightly fallen from its place, and a few are hidden in the growth of turf. There are three well-marked gaps in the circle one on each side of the south stone, and one a little to the east. The tallest and most regularly shaped stone of this circle (L) is the fifth one to the west of the south stone. This is a slab of greyish granite, 3 feet 5 inches high, 4 feet 1 inch wide, 1 foot thick, and very regular in shape. No other stone of its circle quite equals it in appearance, but the stone next west from it is not much inferior. In general, the stones diminish in size and shapeliness each way from these two. The decrease is not regular, but is clearly intentional.
The third or innermost circle is much less obviously complete; this is partly due to the overflow of the piling of loose stones. It probably consisted of nearly forty stones, of which twenty-two remain visible in place, and one (M) has been displaced inwards. Here again the tallest and shapeliest stone (N) is in the same common radius with the tallest stone (L) of the second circle, and with the megalith (B) which is said to have been the biggest of the megaliths. Stone (N) is about 2 feet broad, and 10 inches thick. Its height is about 3 feet 6 inches, but probably not more than 3 feet of its inner face was originally exposed.
The stone packing in the ring between the second and third circles consists of loose stones of varied size. The largest I could see weigh about a hundredweight, the least are less than one's fist. In some places they have been howked out; hundreds of them have fallen or been pitched into the inner circular space, and some have tumbled out
through the gaps in the second circle. There is, of course, no actual evidence that this packing is part of the original structure.
Of the cromlech reported by James Robertson there is no remnant. The authorities of the Seafield estate seem to have no official knowledge of the circle, and there is no provision in the rules of the estate for its protection.
The Aviemore Stone-Circle.-The Aviemore stone-circle stands about half a mile north of Aviemore railway station, not more than 60 yards from the high-road, and just behind the United Free Church. As in the case of the Grenish circle, the site is not possessed of any notable features. As far as I know, there are no cairns in the neighbourhood of the circle.
The circle (fig. 2) is in some respects less complete than that at Grenish. Like that one it consisted originally of three concentric circles; the outer one, of detached megaliths, had a diameter of about 75 feet; the second, of closely set stones, a diameter of about 42 feet; and the inner, as to which the evidence is imperfect, a diameter of about 26 feet.
The outer circle probably consisted of twelve stones, for in this case there was and still is a megalith (A) in the eastward place. The south stone (B) stands 4 feet 10 inches high, and has a shape roughly suggestive of a cloaked human figure. The rest of the south-west quadrant has no stone, nor any evidence of the former presence of one. The northwest quadrant has no megalith now standing in its proper place; but there are some large boulder-stones lying against the outside of the second circle, and it is easy to suppose that three of these (C, D, E) may be the somewhat shapeless megaliths rolled inwards. The farm-steading was at one time close to the west side of the circle, and such displacement may well have taken place. There are also some other largish blocks of stone similarly placed (F, G), which probably did not belong to the circle; their fresher surfaces suggest that they were placed here when turned up by the plough, as have been also many smaller pebbles. In the north-east quadrant there are three stones that may have been megaliths (H, J, K), and three others that are probably
intruders (L, M, N). The most northerly of the megaliths (H) lies close in to the second circle, and has, I am informed, probably been recently moved into its present position. The second megalith (J) does not
look as though it had been moved, but it is only 13 feet from the second circle, whereas the south stone is 16 feet 8 inches, and the two easterly ones are 17 feet 3 inches. The third stone of this quadrant (K), a low, flattish block, is only 5 feet from the circle, and has almost certainly been
moved. In the south-east quadrant there are three stones, two (A, O) standing, and one (P) fallen. These are well shaped, somewhat pyramidal blocks, 3 feet 10 inches, 4 feet 9 inches, and 4 feet 9 inches respectively in height. The fallen one has perhaps been shifted some distance outwards, as its nearest point is 23 feet from the second circle.
The second or middle circle is fairly complete. It consists of probably thirty-six stones. There is a considerable gap to the east of the south stone (Q), for which no stones appear, and there is another gap still farther round on that side. It may be noted that the stone to the south of this latter gap (R) is the handsomest of this circle, being 3 feet 3 inches high, fairly regular in shape, and light grey in colour. The tallest stone of this circle is the prostrate south stone (Q). This would be 4 feet high if standing on its base, which is upon the line of the circle. The stones next west from it are also large, standing each 3 feet high, the one 3 feet 7 inches, and the other 3 feet 10 inches wide. No other stone equals any of these four in size, but it can scarcely be said that there is a gradation of size round towards the north. Just behind the south stone, or rather behind its neighbour, is a large shapeless stone nearly a yard high, suggesting the "recumbent" stones found in many stone-circles. There is a slight, irregular embankment round the outer base of this middle circle.
The third circle, the innermost one, is very imperfect. Indeed we found but five, or possibly six. stones to indicate its position, and only one of these (T) is at all elevated. It stands about 2 feet high, but the others barely show above the ground. It is not easy to suppose the former existence of a complete third circle, still less to suppose what Mr Angus Grant asserts, that there was a ring of loose stones here like that at Grenish, for only in the north part of the ring are loose stones present in any notable quantity. Of the cromlech reported by James Robertson there is no remnant. Mr Cree, a member of this society, found what we took to be 66 a cup-mark" in a loose stone (U) which had been used as a prop for one of the posts of a wire-fence that cuts the circle; the cup is 3 x 13 x 11 inches.
It seems evident that this circle has suffered considerable disturbance. It is not easy to account for the removal of stones from the innermost circle-if they ever were there. The megaliths have in several cases obviously been moved, and some of those on the west side have been taken away. It may be noted, however, that while three stones are missing from the south-west quadrant, there seem to be three intruders (L, M, N) in the north-east quadrant.
This circle is on the Seafield estate, and, like the Grenish one, is ignored by the estate officials.
The Delfour Stone-Circle.-This circle (fig. 3) stands about 4 miles south-west from Aviemore Station and 2 miles N.N.E. from Kincraig Station. It is about half a mile west of the high-road, and may be approached by a farm-road leaving the high-road a little south of the eighth milestone from Kingussie.
But for the presence of one standing stone (A) of striking appearance, this circle might at first sight be supposed to be merely a heap of loose stones collected from the land around, for there are several such heaps in its neighbourhood. The New Statistical Account speaks of an inner circle 25 feet in diameter. This is now completely hidden in a pile of stones that quite fills all the space within the middle circle. I am, however, informed that for at least thirty-five years there has been neither addition to nor subtraction from the pile as it now stands, and that the factor allows no interference with it.
Of the outer circle of megaliths, if it ever existed, only one (A) now remains. This stands at a distance of 22 feet 6 inches to the southwest of the middle circle. It is a remarkably fine slab of quartzite, 9 feet 6 inches high, 1 foot 6 inches thick, 5 feet 6 inches wide at the base, and tapering irregularly upwards, so as to present a rough resemblance to a cloaked human figure.
The main or middle circle is 60 feet in diameter. Of its set stones only twenty-nine or thirty are visible, constituting about five-eighths of the circumference. The entire north-west quadrant and about half of the north-east quadrant show no set stones, these being hidden by the loose