Stone circles and whisky

Today we went in search of some stone circles. Humans have lived in Aberdeenshire for thousands of years and there are lots of important archaeological sites here including some strange and intriguing stone circles. They don’t really know what these were used for but I’ve read they may have astronomical significance and/or they were used as burial grounds.

There’s one stone circle very close to Ballater in the village of Aboyne. Instructions on the web said to park next to the cemetery and it would be a short walk from there. There were no signs to the site from the carpark so it took us about an hour to find it after wandering lost through the woods. None of our phones had any network connection so we had to rely on old-fashioned technology: asking directions from locals. It was surprising the number of locals who had no idea the stone circle existed. Eventually we asked the husband of an archaeologist and he knew exactly where they were and took us there.

The woods themselves were beautiful. Here’s a bit of the forest we spent an hour wandering in search of some rocks in:

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The stones themselves:

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The fellow who took us to the stones told us this collection is known as a four-poster since the four main stones are laid out like a four-poster bed. Here’s my sister and her family:

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Just 10 minutes up the road from this spot is a more famous stone circle, Tomnaverie. We went there next and it was larger and positioned on the top of a hill where there were lovely views in all directions. Tomnaverie is 4500 years old and it has what is called a recumbent stone which looked like a large stone table. I can only imagine what humans might have used this for – some kind of sacrifice maybe, or perhaps it was used for ceremonial purposes when someone died, or maybe they just ate their dinner off it.

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My sister:

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After all this ancient history there was only one thing left to do and that was to visit a whisky distillery. We went to the Royal Lochnager Distillery which is very close to Ballater. There was some snow on the ground in the carpark there which kept the kids entertained for ages.

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It was set in a beautiful location and the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable. We got to go and check out all the wooden barrels of whiskey and even have a sniff from some of the barrels:

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And yes, we tasted some whisky. I really don’t like whisky very much but I was able to gag down a couple of sips. Ben loves whisky though and he enjoyed it very much. Fortunately I really like the smell of whisky on his breath 🙂