Aberdeenshire is full of recumbent stone circles. While visiting Sharon’s cousin John and his partner Lorna I invited them to join us in search of three circles said to be quite close together about eight miles southeast of Banchory. Off we went and with a little help from another couple we soon found The Nine Stanes ,or Mulloch, Stone Circle. (Burl calls it Garrol Wood)
This is a really fun site though the circle, which is at least 50 feet across, is in a bit of disrepair. I think six stones were standing and one of the recumbent flanker stones had topped over as well. The circle is located just within a wooded area providing a comfortable atmosphere. Many of the stones were covered with different colored mosses and lichens in a variety of shades of green with some oranges and bright reds. It is most charming but I knew I could not spend too much time there. I can only hope to one day get back.
Just about 1/2 mile to the NW further along the road we could see Esslie the Greater Stone Circle sitting out in an open field. We parked, climbed the fence and walked the 150 yards to find yet another recumbent circle about 85 feet across. The recumbent and flankers still stand proud, maybe five feet tall, but many of the other stones have fallen or are being absorbed into the earth. It seemed that it had been built up on a platform and it was obvious that there was also the remains of a cairn in the middle.
Another 1/2 mile north, within site of each other, we found Esslie the Lesser Stone Circle. The name speaks for itself. It is definitely the smallest of the circles and in the worst condition. I did find that the east and west stones were still in place and the west stone was a block of quartz. This circle sits up on high ground and the view down on Greater Esslie was pretty cool. Not often that I find places were you can gaze from one to another like this and I have to wonder why? which one came first?
What a fun day it was. In fact, it was a “three circle day!”