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24 September 2005
Archaeologist returns to Tomnaverie stone circle

Professor Richard Bradley of Reading University, the Archeologist who helped  save an Aberdeenshire (Scotland) stone circle from destruction, returned to the site to discuss its historical importance.
     Professor Bradley was head of a team of archaeologists and volunteers who set about restoring the Tomnaverie Stone Circle in Deeside back in 1999. The Circle, near Tarland, dates back about 4,000 years ago, and was under threat from work being done at nearby granite quarry.
     The restoration work, which was completed in 2000, gives presidence that the site is the only one of its kind to have been subjected to modern excavation and analysis. Experts believe there were once 100 or so Circles of its type dotted around Aberdeenshire.
     Professor Bradley returned to the site for a visit organized by the Cromar History Group. About 50 history enthusiasts were treated to a guided tour in which the Professor also explained the findings that have emerged from the restoration project. The Circle would have been in use around 2,000 BCE by indigenous peoples.
     The farmers who lived in the area at that time were the first people to use metal tools. The site's role was clearly ceremonial as burning and cremation rituals took place there and, in common with the other sites, it was aligned roughly in relation to the midsummerís full moon. Professor Bradley does not, however, believe that the moon itself was deified by the population who once used the site. He said: "I think it represents a link between fire, darkness, cremation and the dead. It is the same as how churches all face the same way because the rising of the sun represents the resurrection in the Christian faith."
     Professor Bradley added that a number of things that were not known before about the Circles' function have been discovered through work at Tomnaverie.  Particulary, the stones themselves are now thought to represent closure for the site, which for much of its working life would have consisted simply of a cairn that lies at its center. "All these sites combine cairns with stone circles," he said. "The stones, however, close the site down. They appear to be the last things in the process of using the site. That is exactly the opposite to what we once believed."

Source: The Press and Journal (19 September 2005)

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