To reach Old Keig you first have to climb over a nasty barbed wire fence (be careful! I cut my leg!) and trespass down through a narrow strip of copse. The farmer clearly doesn't want visitors. The stones are set onto a spur of land in a rolling wide valley – a fantastic location. All that is left of the circle stones at Old Keig is a jumble of large broken stones which have been moved and dragged about and hidden in undergrowth. But the recumbent and flankers are just too massive to move or hide. With some effort I clambered onto the gigantic recumbent and paced it out – 6 paces long! It's also noticeable flat and straight along the top.
The feeling of trespass didn't leave me, however, especially as we were being watched only metres away by an equally gigantic snorting red bull with testicles the size of footballs and a Mike Tyson look his eye, held back only by a line of barbed wire.
You have to close your eyes to the mess elsewhere in the circle but the recumbent and flankers here are a joy to behold.
It happens to be the heaviest recumbent (53 tons and nearly 5m long) but what really makes it special is the recumbent's smooth outer face and the level top.
From inside this circle you can get a good impression of that classic RSC outlook. The recumbent just below the horizon with the flankers breaking the horizon line. A window through which to view the moon.
Access. Merrick has given the directions. I'll just add that there is a disused roadside quarry providing a handy parking place opposite the point where you enter the wood.
Yet again a slender antiquarian copse leads from the road to the stones, like at New Craig, Dunnydeer and others. These copses appear to be of roughly the same age, too. Who planted them? They seem deliberately planted to protect the stones from farmers like the trees planted on Wiltshire hilltop barrows. As if to prove it, here at Old Keig an arc extends back from the recumbent and flankers in a good approximation of the position of the circle, and no tree stands within the precinct. On the south side there's a gap of forty or fifty metres so the south-western view is unobscured, save for a single stout tree that protects the recumbent from close-up farming! (The present farmer's thrown field clearance boulders between the tree and the standers, a metre from the recumbent).
These copses have the feel of a BBC Sunday evening TV drama Avalonian/Narnia enchanted grove. The excited and expectant roar of thousands of buzzing insects up in the canopy of the trees fed this enchantment as we approached.
And there they stood, the epically proportioned stones. As at Dunnydeer, there's only the recumbent and flankers. And as at Dunnydeer, it's all that's needed to generate a real sense of the scale of this massive circle, and a very potent sense of place. This huge recumbent stone feels so serene, centre of a wide and peaceful 270 degree landscape with the peaks of Bennachie poking up at the north-east and a fort-topped (therefore anciently sacred?) hill of The Barmkyn immediately behind.
We're slowly discovering that the Modern Antiquarian's directions of 'requires an OS map' can mean 'not on a path'. Initially I envisioned that line as meaning three-mile slogs across hill and bog, but it's definitely been used liberally. Old Keig certainly doesn't need one at all. From the B992 take the western road out of Keig, there's a farm on your left after a mile, then 400 metres later a thin line of trees on your left, perpendicular to the road. The stones are 200 metres down from the road in those trees.
Also, The Modern Antiquarian describes as subjective a thing as atmosphere at a site in such 'factual' terms, and I've been sceptical; surely a lot of it's to do with the state of the observer, what you already know/don't know of the area and the history, the weather, the season, the surrounding crops, etc. And yet I've found it to be invariably correct. At Old Keig 'the peace overlooking the valley is as though the world has long stopped,' is precisely and completely right.