Hillhead, Forgue, Aberdeenshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NJ 638 367

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 18237 
  2. Hillhead of Bogfouton
  3. Wether Hill

Archaeology & History

Described by the early 20th century antiquarian and megalithomaniac Fred Coles (1903) as being situated “about 1¼ mile SE from the church at Ythan Wells,” all trace of this stone circle has long gone, and had already disappeared when Coles was surveying the region, telling merely that it had been here “in open fields.”  All subsequent explorations looking for remains of the site has proven fruitless.

References:

  1. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, British Archaeological Report: Oxford 1989.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on the stone circles of North-Eastern Scotland, chiefly in Auchterless and Forgue,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 37, 1903.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Kelpie’s Stane, Corgarff, Aberdeenshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – NJ 264 087

Also known as:

  1. Kelpie Stone

Folklore

The old Scottish folklorist, A.A. MacGregor, described this legendary rock, “by the Bridge of Luib, on the River Don,” in his classic Peat Fire Flame. (1937)  One of the numerous ‘holed stones,’ it was one of countless rocks in our isles imbued with animistic spirit essence, akin to similar rocks found in all of the other cultures in the world.  MacGregor told how,

“It happened that a man summoned to the death-bed of a relative came to this crossing-place just after torrential floods had carried away the bridge. When he was on the point of abandoning all hope of reaching the opposite bank, a tall man appeared from nowhere and volunteered to carry him across. The distracted homecomer accepted the assistance proffered. But, when he and his carrier reached mid-river, the latter reverted to the form of the river kelpie and endeavoured to drag him down to the river’s bed. The victim managed to escape. As he scrambled to the bank, the infuriated kelpie hurled after him the huge boulder that to this day goes by the name of the Kelpie’s Stane.”

But the stone was also known to possess healing and magickal properties, as evidenced from MacPherson’s (1929) chronicle, which told:

“Somewhere near Dinnet was the Kelpie Stone. Childless women passed through its 18 inch (46cm) hole to concieve. A noble lady performed the task to no avail; only when she repeated it in the same direction as the river flow did the charm work.”

Close by are several other intriguing place-names which may at some time have had some archaeo-mythic relevance to this legendary rock. On the hill above is the old Carn Lian; the water course nearby is the Allt na Ciste; but most intriguingly we find the Bog of the Old Woman, or the Moine Cailleach a half-mile to the east.

References:

  1. MacGregor, Alisdair Alpin, The Peat-Fire Flame, Ettrick Press: Edinburgh 1937.
  2. McPherson, Joseph M., Primitive Beliefs in the North-East of Scotland, Longmans, Green & Co: London 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian


Battle Hill Dolmen, Huntly, Aberdeenshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NJ 542 401

Archaeology & History

In a short article, ‘Dolmens in Scotland’, written by Dr H.O. Forbes in the esteemed Antiquity journal of June 1929, Dr Forbes reported the former existence of a dolmen-like monument that stood,

“some 70 years ago…at the north or northwestern extremity of Battle Hill which looks down on the town of Huntly on the River Bogie in Aberdeenshire.  In walking from Drumblade to the town, about 3 miles off, one usually took a short cut over Battle Hill.  This bypath diverged from the turnpike road leading north to Banff and led to the top of Battle Hil (400ft), close past the edge of the wood, a few yards within which stood this monument.  It was a typical dolmen, of which I retain a perfectly clear recollection, with its large granite capstone supported by three massive, rudely shaped pillars.  On the aspect towards the bypath, there were some blocks of stone on the ground which may have constituted a fourth pillar or the ruins of a dromos, otherwise the dolmen was in excellent preservation.  It stood about 6 to 7 feet high above the ground level, for I remember it took some climbing for me as a small boy to get on top.”

Folklore

Dr Forbes also described several legends attached to this long forgotten old tomb.  He told “that it was a ruined druid’s altar; that the stones were dropped down through a hole in the devil’s apron when on his way to Knock Hill to deposit the cloven-stone there (a large glacial erratic); and that it is the tomb of a great warrior.”  A story that we find at a number of prehistoric tombs in both Britain and abroad.  At some nearby tumuli, legend told that they stood on the site of a great battle.

References:

  1. Forbes, H.O., ‘Dolmens in Scotland,’ in Antiquity journal, volume 3, June 1929.

  2. Grinsell, Leslie, Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, David & Charles: Newton Abbot 1976.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian