Amusement in Aberdeenshire as newly discovered stone circle turns out to be… well, new.

There has been much amusement in the media over the past few days around the official recording of a stone circle before Christmas by archaeologists from the local council and the national heritage organisation, Historic Environment Scotland, which has turned out to be only around 25 years old.

Described earlier as a smaller variation of sites typical of the region, it was noted that is was in very good condition, and that it was surprising that the site had not been formally recorded before now. The former owner of the land, however, has recently got in touch with the officials explaining that he built the replica in the mid-1990s.

Cue much collective guffawing and some professional embarrassment – neatly summed up on the BBC’s Newsround website as, “Awks!”  The local archaeologist took to twitter noting ruefully, “If you are having an awkward day at work at least you’re not that guy who identified a new prehistoric stone circle to the press that now turns out to be about 20 years old.

A nice piece in the Scotsman this week puts this all into a wider perspective, noting that many archaeological sites of this kind remain mysterious; flags that the honesty and candour of professionals involved will do them good rather than harm; and that there is a history of making ‘new’ monuments.  The example of the Sighthill Megalith is given – and I would encourage you to read Kenny Brophy’s blog on this site, and his other investigations into the past around us in the everyday urban environment.

I agree with the Scotsman article and forsee that the site will indeed become of greater interest to visitors, and should rightly do so.  Given the ’30 year rule’ which applies to listing sites in the built environment, the site is already almost of an age where it could officially be ‘heritage’, and in due course could indeed merit protection – and why not?  It may be a site of its time, and hopefully investigation won’t stop entirely – it would be great to professionally record the motivation of the builder of this new/old site – and, as archaeologists often say, to gain an insight into the society which created it – an advantage we don’t have for sites which really are 4000 years old.

Glenluce Abbey: book cupboard

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Glenluce Abbey © David Gill

Within the cloister at Glenluce is a recessed book cupboard marked by a Ministry sign.

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Glenluce Abbey © David Gill

For other books cupboards:

Reconstructing a Broch and Crowdfunding

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Glenelg © David Gill

It has been announced that a broch will be reconstructed in Caithness (“Bid to build replica Iron Age tower in Caithness“, BBC News 4 January 2019).

The Caithness Broch Project is using crowdfunding to raise support for the reconstruction.

Cardoness Castle: notice signs

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

The top of Cardoness Castle provides views over the estuary. Visitors are discouraged from trying to get on top of the walls. One points out the danger, the other expressly forbids it.

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

The second reproduces the word ‘Notice’: surely redundant on a sign? And the clear indication that ‘visitors are not allowed on wall top’ is ‘by order’; underneath is an erased  line, ‘Ministry of Works’.

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

Elgin cathedral: guidebook

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1938 (2nd ed. 1950, 8th impress. 1973)

The first See of Moray was created in 1107. However the present location (juxta Elgyn) was only consecrated in July 1224 when it became the cathedral church of the diocese.  The constitution of the cathedral was based on Lincoln. After the reformation the building fell into risrepair and the roof was removed in 1567.

The guidebook, subtitled, The Cathedral Kirk of Moray, was written by J.S. Richardson (description) and H.B. Mackintosh (history). A fold-out plan is placed inside the back cover.

St Andrews cathedral: guidebooks

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1950 (8th impress. 1966)

The remains of the cathedral at St Andrews were placed in State Guardisanship in 1946. Stewart Cruden prepared the first guidebook for The Cathedral of St. Andrews and St. Regulus Church (1950) (although the cover only shows the shorter form).

It starts with an extensive glossary, The guide is divided into two sections, each divided into history and description: first on St Regulus church, second on the cathedral.  A plan of the cathedral is placed in the centre pages, and a fold-put plan of the precinct appears inside the back cover.

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1993 (revised 2003; repr. 2007)

The Historic Scotland official souvenir guide was prepared by Richard Fawcett, and was subsequently revised by Sally Foster and Chris Tabraham. This has a guided tour followed by the story of the cathedral.

St Andrews Cathedral

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St Andrews Cathedral © David Gill

The cathedral at St Andrews was constructed from 1160. Services were taken by the Augustinian canons. It continued in use until the reformation of the church in Scotland in 1560.

To the east of the cathedral lay the earlier St Rule’s church, dating from the previous century.

The cathedral ruins were placed in State Guardianship in 1946.