Balbirnie Stone Circle, Fife, Scotland

Balbirnie Stones board

After visiting so many Neolithic standing stones and cairns when we were in Orkney I thought it was about time I did another short blogpost about the local ones near me in Fife, the Balbirnie Stone Circle.

Balbirnie Stones

I did blog about them donkey’s years ago and of course they don’t change although they now have a new and legible information board. There was evidence of 16 cremation burials as well as a flint knife, a jet button and beads and a complete food container when the area was excavated.

Balbirnie Stones

The powers that be decided to move this stone circle when a nearby road was being upgraded – which is truly sacrilegious, but at least they re-arranged them as they had been originally. They are now 125 metres to the south-east of their original location.

Balbirnie Standing Stones 3

There’s a burn nearby and I presume that that is why people settled in this area over 2,000 years BC. I must admit that I like to think of families living and working here all those years ago.

Balbirnie Stone Circle, Fife

standing stones

The photo above is of the standing stones at Balbirnie, it’s a Neolithic site, dating from around 3,000 BC. I’ve only seen these stones once before, and that must have been about 30 years ago, I remember at the time that I was really disappointed to read that they had been relocated by Historic Scotland, apparently they were in the way of a road which needed to be widened.

standing stones

It seems a very strange thing to do, surely stone circles were carefully positioned for a good reason, we don’t know what it was but to me it’s crazy to move them. It takes all the romance away somehow.

standing stones

As you can see, houses have been built very close to the stones. I must admit that it gives me a bit of a kick to think that there were people farming 5,000 years ago in the area we now live in. I doubt if they were very much different from us.

You can read more about the Balbirnie Stone Circle here.

Duddo Stone Circle, Northumberland

I had never heard of Duddo until Margaret@BooksPlease blogged about it recently, do have a look at her very interesting post, her photos are better than mine too, here. I’m still getting used to the new camera, well that’s my excuse anyway!
Thanks Margaret, we would never have found the Duddo Stone Circle on our own, it’s fairly off the beaten track.

Duddo information board

Lorraine was asking how long it took for us to get to York from Scotland and I have to say that I’m not exactly sure, somewhere between 3 and 4 hours I think, because we stopped off at Duddo on the way there. The sign on the gate which you go through to get to Duddo says that it’s about an hour long walk there and back – and it was for us anyway. It’s an easy walk if you’re fairly fit, along the edges of fields of crops which had recently germinated, and we had a lovely day for it.

Duddo from a distance 1

Although Duddo is in Northumberland and so is now definitely part of England, I think of it as historically Scottish as it’s north of Hadrian’s Wall. It was obviously a very important place for Neolithic/Bronze Age inhabitants. The whole thing is a bit of a mystery but they do know that it dates from about 2,000 BC. Cremated human remains were found in the centre of the stone circle, it might have been a place of worship and burial or for sacrifices, or both.

Duddo from distance 3
It’s an impressive spot today, just imagine what it must have been like all those years ago.

Duddo standing stone 1

It’s thought that these massive grooves have been worn into the stone by the weather over the centuries, they look spookily like they’re man-made though.

aOne of the Duddo standing stonesstone 3

This one is actually the smallest stone but it’s still about 5 feet in height, as you can see there are lovely hills in the background. We were lucky in that there were no other sight-seers there and we had the place all to ourselves, which made it all the more magical for me. I count myself as being a fairly hard and cynical person but I definitely felt that there was a special atmosphere at the stone circle and I walked around them touching them all.

Can’t you feel it? I said to Jack. That’s the Viking in you. They’re just stones – he replied.

That’s the scientist in you! – I said. Honestly there’s nae romance in that man of mine.

Duddo landscape

I think Duddo would be quite bleak in grey weather but it was very pleasant on a blue sky day. There was quite a lot of fighter jet activity, some of it too high up to see but you could certainly hear them and a couple of jets did pass over us, very low. It’s a very rural and sparsely populated part of Britain at Duddo, which makes it a good training airspace for them I suppose. It does seem a bit weird though when all that state of the art metal, costing millions of pounds flies over a Bronze Age structure.