This site was relatively easy to find, being well-signed from the road. Lots of parking and a pleasant enough wall through a wee wooded area before emerging into bright sunshine and the realisation that it was school-trip day! The whole site was swarming with Aberdeenshire school-children who appeared to be undertaking some kind of mathematical experiment!
As this was the one site I had been least excited by the prospect of visiting, it wasn't too much of a downer and I quite liked the fact that they were engaging with their heritage. It did make getting decent pictures a bit of a 'mare though!
The situation is fabulous, with amazing views over the verdant countryside but, like others here, the reconstruction of this site made this a hard one to get too giddy about.
In the care of historic Scotland this well-tended site was too well restored for my taste, but it was hot nevertheless. I loved the cremation site immediately next to the stone circle and one of the flankers looked like a gigantic penis.
This stite is very well signposted from both of the roads that lead into the South of the village of Davoit from the main road (the B9001). The circle is to the North of the village, and has loads of parking space. A bit too much of a show site, but again, it's easy to get to and well looked after, which suggests that our next, next, next, generations should also be able to enjoy it.
Strangely, I've never felt much affinity with Loanhead, and I couldn't say why. However, this time I walked through the woods with the rain dripping through, and stood in the centre of the circle. I could still hear the rain beating on the trees, but not a single drop fell inside the circle.
Despite this being the land of my fathers and this area in particular the scene of happy childhood memories February 2000 was my first visit to an RSC.
We grumbled our way through the surrounding stands of stultifying conifers (farming telegraph poles is the finest way possible to wreck local flora and fauna while providing tax dodge fat profits for absentee investors ), we glanced at the notice board, looked around and were stunned by this place.
Its in wonderful condition, not just in the physical restoration but also in a strong sense of a continuity of use.
Neither a desolate ruin nor a sterile reconstruction, but a vibrant place. The other half summed it up by saying that in some places the old ways die hard, and come back brighter. That seemed right.
The alien (to my eyes) appearance of flankers, recumbent, inner cairn stones and small central cleared circle left a deep impression. Standing in that inner circle was a dizzying experience.
The notion of a priest caste using its knowledge of lunar cycles to advise a crop dependent culture hit home loud and clear, I could almost see the old buggers at it. I was interested to read the earlier entry by Merrick who also found the site conducive to producing strong mental pictures.
Something else came whistling back over the years to me. A little anti establishment rant, Scottish style.
See the smoking bowl before us,
Mark our jovial ragged ring,
Round and round take up the chorus,
And in rapture loudly sing.
What is title what is treasure ?
What is reputations care ?
If we lead a life of pleasure,
It is no matter how or where.
A fig for those by laws protected,
Liberty is a glorious feast.
Courts for cowards were erected,
Churches built to please the priests.
I visited Loanhead of Daviot on a oneday tour including East Aquhorthies, Cullerie, Midmar Kirk and Whitehills, so I was comparing and contrasting in my head.
There is so much to see here, the large recumbant, the reerected stones, the small centre stones,the clear space inside the rubble in the middle. Then there's the later cremation circle next to the RSC.
Walking to the site from the carpark you walk under heavy trees, quite shaded, out into the sun and a very green, lush site with all this history, just sat there.
I had a strong sense that Scotland takes it's prehistory a lot more seriously than England/Wessex does, the signposting, preservation (maybe occasionally overpreservation) and general upkeep puts, certainly the South of England to shame on this score.
Over the past weekend I've visited a low profile site in Dorset and was heard to scream 'in scotland this would be a show site,' looked after and properly marked. Maybe both approaches have thier benefits.
The semi-surrounding of trees gives this place a Rollrights feel, but the stones are entirely Grampian. And the cairn stones in the middle - especially with the empty, cleared centre - give the site a kind of mandalic focus. I was perplexed by descriptions of "twelve cup-marks" on one of the flankers - I could only find two un-cup-like horizontal grooves. The woods here look so perfect for camping, but very little chance of getting away with it I suppose, unless you're a local scout or guide...
Being a restored and state-owned show site, Loanhead is very well signposted. But there's also recent signposting for others like Midmar Kirk, with even a brown tourist sign logo. We parked up at about 6pm on a Friday evening, just as a load of Scouts and Guides were being dropped off at the Scout campsite that shares the carpark.
As you take the short uphill path through the woods stones are silhouetted against the sky in a dramatic and exclamatory way. The circle, with its bizarrely lengthways-split recumbent, is made more bizarre by the rubble of cairnstones carefully placed within, and weirder still by the cleared circle at the very centre coated in coarse sand. The official info boards are, like others everywhere, obsessed with physical measurements above all, but like the others in this area the ones here are well above the standard of, say, Silbury or Stonehenge - no 'chief of the clan' hierarchical bollocks, and mention of lunar alignments; trying seriously to be addressing *why* as well as *what*.
There was a little work to be done in 'making a practical offering' to the site; rather than leave flowers or whatever, clear the litter. It gives you a close and binding feel for the site and makes it a better place for the next people who come, encouraging them to treat it with more respect. Quite how the Irn Bru can I pulled out from between the halves of the recumbent came to be smelling of fish is unknown.
I was moved by the (cairn-builder era) cremation site beside the circle - I could really imaging a blazing fire, looking as fire always has and does, cremating a man looking like men still do, right here, this very spot, so long ago that we don't know any real detail of their lives and thoughts, let alone their language. Trees surround the circle on three sides, but you can *really* feel Mither Tap and the sister hills of Bennachie calling and glaring from beyond the recumbent. The blocking of a direct view does detract from the sense of place here, but the site is still very affecting.
The valley to the east looks like the Marlborough Downs, the same brand of rolling fertile land. And half a mile away we could see the recumbent and flankers of New Craig circle, an absolut must-visit.