Have you got something to tell us? A suggestion of a lesser known megalithic wonder which you'd like us to visit? A question to ask a professional archaeologist or an expert on prehistoric monuments? Is there a photo of a remote Scottish stone circle you'd like to see? From here you can "post" us. We will put your notice up on this board and try to find you an answer.
August 3rd, 1998
The suggestion by Gunnar Creutz that the 'cup and ring' marks represent shield bosses ( although original) I do not think can be correct. These marks appear on passage graves in Northern France and the Channel Islands that pre-date metal working. Much more likely they represent the sun or moon or some other astral body. Great site with interesting detailed pics.
The meaning of cup-and-ring markings is still debated, so there isn't a single and unequivocal answer. As far as we know, the French markings are among the earliest, so they definitely pre-date metal working. However, we don't have any data about the Swedish markings; they could have been carved much later, but (as we have already stated on our answer to Gunnar) this seems very unlikely.
Regarding our detailed pictures, we have to thank our faithful Olympus Camedia C-1400L: the quality of the images taken with this digital camera is astonishing (and it is also astonishing how fast it 'eats' batteries: 30-35 photos to kill 4 alkaline batteries...)
August 2nd, 1998
lafur H. Torfason
Thank you for a most wonderful tour! I have been following you with enthusiasm and growing admiration. As an amateur I have been collecting some texts and pictures regarding stone-walls, cairns, brochs etc. here in Iceland.
I have for a time been wondering how the Celts fastened their road crosses to the ground. Do you think that it is possible that the relatively small cairns in Iceland might be former fundaments of such open-air crucifixes?
This is very interesting: we didn't know there were brochs and cairns up to Iceland. We would love to see them (and share them with our friends on the Web), if you manage to send us your pictures as digital images.
Regarding the Celtic crosses you mentioned, we don't have any information about the Celts' methods of construction: we suppose that crosses were erected by some Christian or somehow roman-influenced populations.
Anyway, we could tell you how prehistoric people used to erect standing stones: they dug a big and deep hole in the ground, lining it with flat stones. Then they slowly slid the stone inside the hole, with the help of ropes and logs to raise it. Finally, they packed more small stones into the base, so the standing stone could stand still for centuries...
Even if we haven't see them, it seems unlikely that Icelandic small cairns could be the remains of standing crosses made of stone. Do you know if they have ever been excavated by some professional archaeologist?
Brilliant! I have thoroughly enjoyed following your progress through what we laughingly call our summer. It will seem a shame not to be able to log on to the net and follow your progress. It has been a fascinating expedition to us desk travellers. I suppose that, living here ( I'm the one near the Three Arrows you photographed on your way north) that we take our country for granted. It's only when seen through the eyes of outsiders or incomers that we see what we really have - and that has been the best part of your site. So thanks a million, as the Irish say.
If the heat of Italy gets too much, you can always send some over here. That's one thing that we don't take for granted.
We are glad you enjoyed our online travel diary. It's been very hard to keep it updated during our tour, but messages such as yours let us realize it was well worth the effort.
If possible (money & time permitting) we will organize more megalithic tours in the future, so keep visiting our web pages!
The temperature here is over 35 deg C, but we've been told that some sunshine finally arrived up to England and Scotland (great! Just when our tour is over...)
July 28th, 1998
Phyllis in Florida
Thanks for sharing your journey and all the rain-soaked hard work. I've always wanted to return to Scotland after a completely inadequate 10-day tour some years ago. Now I know what to concentrate on. I'd read and seen photos of megalithic monuments on the British Isles; didn't know there were so many in Scotland. I'll be looking forward to your diary on Corsica. You might also someday enjoy touring the American Indian mound sites of the eastern U.S., some in the Ohio Valley dating as early as 2000 BC.
We are now enjoying some very hot Italian temperatures (32-35 deg C); we've had enough of Scottish pouring rain... Anyway, we hope this website could be a source of inspiration for everyone: Scotland is really beautiful (apart from nervous bulls and the wet weather) and it surely deserve a visit!
Don't hold your breath for our next online travel diary. We would like to organize our next megalithic tour for the summer of 1999; however, there will be more additions to our main website, the Stone Pages, so keep visiting it!
Sooner or later we will like to come and see the American Indian mounds: there are so many ancient monuments to see all over the world!
July 21st, 1998
Well done. The web pages of diary have been truly first class. I sent a short note in the early days after you passed through Boroughbridge on your way up north and have followed every episode with interest. I am ashamed to say that as an Englishman, it has taken a group of Italians to illustrate what a rich country we live in. Your workin publicising the journey has been appreciated by me and, I see from the number of messages posted, by a great many others.
Bon Voyage and a safe journey home.
PS Where's the next journey to?
Thanks a lot for your warm message: now that our tour is over, we think we deserve some rest. But don't worry, soon there will be more additions to our pages and sooner or later we will organize another tour. We'd really like to visit a country with a better weather than Scotland and with a real summer sunshine: we are thinking about Corse (France) or Portugal. If we'll get enough support (please visit our Goodies pages), we'll spend part of our next summer visiting some more megalithic monuments and sharing our experience with our Internet friends.
July 17th, 1998
Really enjoying your tour of ancient Scotland, especially sites on Skye, Orkney and in Grampian which I have visited. Photography excellent, good, knowledgeable commentary - a beautifully-engineered site. I will recommend it to my students of Landscape Heritage next year. Don't worry about the English! (both senses)
Ooo... It is always a pleasure receiving messages such as yours: we are really happy you enjoyed our website and the megalithic sites on Skye, Orkney and Grampian. If you'll ever have another chance to visit Scotland, next time try also Arran and Lewis: you won't be disappointed!
Good luck to you and your students (we know it, *there are* many English grammar mistakes in our diary...)
July 15th, 1998
Dear Paola and Diego, The photo from Ormaig
is really beautiful! It is very interesting for me to compare those rock
carvings with very similar rock carvings I have seen here in Sweden. I
think that the best explanation of those cup marks with concentric circles
is that they are images of bronze shields of so called Herzsprung type.
In November 1985 there was found at least 15 bronze shields at a place called Froeslunda (north-
west of Lidkoebing near the great lake Vaenern in Vaestergoetland in Sweden). These bronze shields are now exhibited at the regional museum in Skara. The shields are of a thickness of only 0,5 mm, so they could not have been used in hand-to-hand fighting. They have rather been ceremonial shields. The shields are very similar to the Swedish rock carvings consisting of cup marks with concentric circles.
There is for example one rock carving at Hede (in Kville parish in Bohuslaen) that shows a horned man holding a Herzsprung bronze shield in one hand and having his other hand placed upon his winged scabbard. But there are also solitary shield images at a neighbouring rock face.
Similar bronze shields or images of shields are known from all over Europe: in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sardinia, Northern Italy, Greece and Cyprus. The fact, that some rock carvings in Sweden with no doubt are images of bronze shields, does not prove that all similar rock carvings are images of shields. But I think that it is a good idea to think of them as shield images.
Your theory is very interesting indeed. It could be one of the answers to the problem of decoding cup-and-ring marks. We didn't know about the existence of such thin ceremonial shields: they must be very fragile and difficult to handle... The image of shields carved on rocks is really evocative, but (we can't have a look to our archaeology books right now -we are still on tour-) we think that the majority of rock carvings are dated before the earliest metal Age... Anyway, it's still worth thinking over this idea!
July 13th, 1998
David Radcliffe (Isle of Man)
Enjoying your travels very much. We were at Kilmartin (staying at the Kilmartin Hotel) a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the whole area and its stones very much. I hope you will travel down to Dumfries & Galloway where we finished our holidays. It was very difficult to photographed "the 12 Apostles" stone circle! Dumfries museum has a very good "Dark Ages" web site at: http://www.dumfriesmuseum.demon.co.uk/
Glad you are enjoying our online diary: it is often the most difficult part of our Scottish work (updating all those web pages late at night after 10 hours of megaliths hunting is really wearying). We too have enjoyed the Kilmartin area: there are so many sites to visit and many of them are real gems... Don't forget to read our diary pages devoted to those sites and the interesting interview to David Clough, Kilmartin House Trust's Director.
Regarding the 'Twelve Apostles' stone circle you are definitely right:
it's the largest stone circle in the Scottish mainland but it's surely
the most difficult to capture on film. It's huge, many stones are lying
on the ground and are broadly spaced; furthermore there is a horrible
hedge which cuts the ring in two... A real photographer's nightmare! Anyway,
this is the result of our efforts with
our digital camera... And thanks for Dumfries Museum's URL!
July 12th, 1998
It is 01:54 on a Sunday morning as I read your ghost
story - the news this week in Aberdeen was all about a ghost seen
in a building I work in! The hairs on my neck are standing up - must check
to see the dog is alright...
Every now and then a good ghost tale could give you some shivering up and down your spine. And that shieling story was really frightening, especially if you read it after having visited those eerie, remote places in North Uist...
I've turned to your site for some time now, it's so marvellously presented. The current journey of yours has me really looking forward to the next episode. My favourite sites are on Dartmoor; this summer I'm returning to Corsica and will look forward to seeing your reports on Filitosa etc when they come out. I hope to visit the sites on your travels in Scotland sometime - Keep your diary on-line! Thanks for your work, hope you get some good weather...
Dartmoor is really littered with many, many prehistoric sites. We have just visited the most famous (and easily accessible). If you'd like some more specific information about Dartmoor sites, please wait until we'll be back to our home base. There is an excellent website devoted to Dartmoor megaliths, but we can't find its URL right now. (Maybe another visitor to the Message Board page could help you).
We are still in Scotland and after having visited nearly 200 megalithic sites in about a month and a half, we think we deserve some rest... So you will have to wait for a while before we will set up our next trip (and its relative online travel diary) to Corsica & Filitosa.
Of course we will keep the Ancient Scotland Tour online as long as our Internet provider will allow us to. Regarding the weather, today we've been lucky: we are writing from the pier at Brodick (Arran island) waiting for the ferry that will take us back to mainland Scotland. And the sun is shining!
July 11th, 1998
Great job! You mentioned several times that stones were 'aligned' but didn't say 'with what'. I'd be very interested in seeing data that says something like: X% of the aligned stones were aligned with the rising sun at Winter Solstice, and Y% with the Summer Solstice, etc. Do you happen to have a source for me?
Yes, you are right: we usually didn't specify the orientation of stone alignments. That's because we always have so little time to write down all the details in our web pages (we update our website very late at night). Anyway, there have always been debates among archaeologists wether those megalithic sites are really astronomical alignments or not. In recent times some researchers pointed out that there wasn't any significant difference between the number of the so-called 'aligned' sites and the statistical mean of all the other sites. That would mean that the existence of real astronomical alignments couldn't be supported by the correct orientation of some of these sites alone.
Some of the alignments, however, are just the remains of stone avenues, used during rites and/or ceremonies.
The best source for megalithic alignments is probably the excellent Aubrey Burl's book 'From Carnac to Callanish'.
July 10th, 1998
Buona sera, devo farvi i miei migliori complimenti per il lavoro che state svolgendo anche se un po' vi invidio... Sono stato in scozia nell'agosto 1996 per il mio viaggio di nozze, ed ho fatto alcune delle esperienze piu' coinvolgenti della mia vita in alcuni di quei luoghi che sto rivedendo grazie a voi... Penso di tornare in scozia il prossimo anno e da queste pagine posso trarre spunto per dare una svolta piu' archeologica alla visita del paese in cui spero poter vivere al piu' presto! Quel viaggio ha segnato la mia vita e quella di mia moglie, e' stato molto difficile il rientro in Italia... Vi auguro una buona continuazione e buon lavoro, probabilmente piu' avanti vi chiedero' qualche consiglio.
Siamo ancora in Scozia (in questo momento sul traghetto che dall'isola di Arran ci sta riportando sulla terraferma). Grazie per i complimenti. Siamo contenti di farti rivivere un poco il tuo bel viaggio scozzese (ci hai incuriosito: quali sono le esperienze piu' sconvolgenti della tua vita che hai vissuto qui?).
Si', la Scozia e' proprio splendida e gli scozzesi simpaticissimi: noi abbiamo sofferto un po' la grande quantita' di pioggia perche' stiamo girando per lavoro e dobbiamo fare fotografie (e sotto il diluvio non e' piacevole), ma comunque, nonostante le tabelle di marcia megalitiche (di nome e di fatto) non ci lascino molto tempo per visitare altro, ci stiamo divertendo.
Chiedici pure tutti i consigli che vuoi quando organizzerai il tuo prossimo viaggio scozzese: ci fara' molto piacere poter condividere la nostra esperienza (per una volta tanto, poi, senza litigare con la lingua inglese ma usando l'italiano: infatti sei uno dei pochi nostri 'compatrioti' ad averci scritto). E poi abbiamo qualche bel bed&breakfast da consigliare e qualche zona megalitica da non perdere (e i sentieri giusti per raggiungerla, sperimentati con le nostre gambe).
Salutoni a te e a tua moglie. A presto!
July 6th, 1998
Thanks for the wonderful website. I have only just found it but can't wait until I have time to really explore. 10 years ago I was in Scotland and England and was pretty awed by the stone circles that just seem to pop up in farmers fields. I have just this month returned from England again, this time seeing Stonehenge for the first time. Thanks for the wonderful tour and by the way we must have been in the UK at the same time....it rained cold and windy the entire time I was there.
On television here they are saying that June 1997 was the wettest June ever recorded in Great Britain, but that it has been beaten by June 1998. We confirm the news (last June we were in Wales). Next time we'll choose November for our megalith hunting!
July 3rd, 1998
I visited your site after some months of absence. I think it's a great site and still improving. You guys are doing a hell of a job! Good luck,
Improvements are a neverending
story... Anyway, thanks for your kind words: we are working really hard
to update our travel diary as frequently as possible. By the way, have
you seen our latest QTVR movies? You may find them inside our 'Images'
section. Thanks again and ciao from rainy Scotland
Pat Johnson (McKay Clan)
Your images and commentary are first rate. I am enjoying this so much. A Japanese friend of mine from California discovered you and sent me the address. Thanks for letting us come on your tour.
What strange and misterious paths cross the Net! A Japanese from California tells you, with Scottish roots, about two Italians touring Scotland! We are happy you are enjoying our tour as you were here with us (without the wet side of the journey: yes, today it is still raining).
July 1st, 1998
This is a major undertaking and very interesting to those of us who enjoy archaeology. I have seen the Stonehenge and the Devil's Arrows in England, plus several stone circles in Scotland. Your description of Stonehenge and the mystery of the transportation of the stones is in accordance with my recollection of the information available at the cite. Hopefully in time you will be able to fill in that kind of detail about other cites. Congratulations on your good work.
Thanks for your warm message. We are journalists, not archaeologists, so it is important for us knowing that the Stone Pages' visitors find our archaeo info correct and interesting at the same time (and not boring as sometimes archeology might look).
June 30th, 1998
This tour is marvelous! Grazie per tutti! Le ringrazio il suo lavoro. Please look out for stones that might shed light on the activities of St.Columba and/or the great monastery at Iona. I'm particularly interested in what you might find in the Western Isles.
St.Columba lived and the Iona monastery was built about 2500-3000 years after the Scottish megalithic monuments were erected. Anyway, some later stones carried inscriptions related to the Saint and the Christian religion in general. And of course many 'pagan' stones disappeared...
We will certainly let you know what we'll be finding in the Western Isles: we are writing this message on the ferry that is carrying us there!
June 29th, 1998
I just returned from 3 weeks in England and Wales, viewing stone circles for the first time. Sites were at Penmaenmawr, Duloe, Boscawen-un, and of course, Stonhenge and Avebury. Viewing these circles is now in my blood, and I can't wait for my visit next year.
Hmmm... It seems you caught the infamous 'stone circle fever'. It looks like an uncontrollable urge to visit ancient places in Europe, getting muddy, walking for hours in the rain and standing amazed in front of old chunks of stone.
I am fascinated by your Ancient Scotland Tour, and am enjoying very much what you have on line. Your tour speaks to me personally, my penchant for stone circles aside. My husband is from Scottish descent (Armstrong from the border clans), and I am 1/8th Italian (my great grandfather on my mother's side was John Traunero from Udine, by way of Oberbach, Bavaria, Germany, to Tiffin, Ohio, USA.
The world is small: Diego's mom was born in Udine!
One comment, I tried to click on the regions on your map page, but nothing happened.
Well, we are trying to keep our map section updated, but when we work on our website, at 4 AM we usually just fall asleep. Anyway, now all areas are active and you can click on them!
Just tried your site but do not now have the time to look at it in detail. It's been a few years since my wife and I had an opportunity to travel thru your wonderful country. Do you plan to keep the site up for many, many months after you complete your travels so we can relive our own experiences?
We will definitely keep the site up 'til our provider will allow us to do so (that is hopefully for many, many months).
June 28th, 1998
No questions, suggestions or critiques but just learnt about this site this morning and have been browsing through and it is wonderful. I'm a scots at heart and plan on visiting in the next couple of years and this site will provide me with some wonderful out of the way places to visit. I am also very interested in the stones etc so will be following this with interest. Best of luck to you.
Actually, the sites we visited are mostly off the beaten path. Every now and then we've had a very long walk to see just one megalithic monument. All we can say is that every site, even the most remote, was definitley worth the effort, so we are glad you've found in our website some inspiration for your next Scottish trip.
Ciao from Scotland and give New Zealand a hug (we visited and fell in love with your beautiful country ten years ago...)
This is a fantastic site! I hope you are enjoying the trip around Scotland and I hope you are not put off by our weather.;-)
I live in Glasgow, so if you are coming down my way and you need any advice, give me a shout.
SCOZIA INDIPENDENTE! Ale' ale' oh oh!
Glad you enjoyed our website. In spite of the wet weather (that's Scotland, after all) we too are enjoying our tour. We'll probably just be passing by Glasgow (there are not megalithic sites in the city!) but we don't know when yet.
We are also supporters of a better Government for Scotland!
Dear both, my wife & I will be in Edinburgh 7/29-8/12 @ an elderhostel. We'll be staying @ pollock halls in univ of Edinburgh. I'm sure your CD will be a great success!
You've probably made a good choice: we thought June was the best month to visit Scotland, but it turned that it's been the wettest June on record! Regarding the CD we are preparing it for the SCRAN, we won't get any royalties from it, but we will also make a CD-ROM of our own. So we hope you'll be one of our happy customers ;-)
Philip R. Stewart
Lovely pictures, in spite of the unpredictable weather. You are to be commended.
Two Questions: (1) Is there any specific information about these sites that you uncovered that you could share with us? (2) I'm intrigued that although geography must have isolated these prehistoric people, the stone similarities exist. Any thoughts?
Well, sometimes our pictures look 'washed out'. That is because we usually shot them under a pouring rain!
Now your questions: 1) Yes, for now you may have a look to our Stones of Scotland: there you may find fairly extensive information about 35 Scottish sites. When our tour will be over, you'll find additional info on all the sites we visited inside the same Stones of Scotland section.
2) Well, you have to take into account that 4-5000 years ago the sea level in many European areas was considerably lower, so migration between what are now islands were much easier. It is generally thought that these migrations of population (or just rituals) from the East up to the northernmost isles might have been the main cause of such a spreading of similarities among megalithic monuments in Europe.
Thank you for bringing your fascinating pictures and adventure to North Carolina and the world via the net. Scotland is a place I would love to visit. I am enjoying every bit of your adventure, as I hope you are, and just wanted to say thank you for your efforts and hard work. I, for one, appreciate it greatly.
Sometimes even the greatest adventures need a short break. Our isn't really an adventure: it's just the Scottish tour by two Italians mad about megaliths and ancient places... Anyway, right now we are writing e-mail messages while we are on board of a ferry boat which is carrying us to Lewis, on the Outher Hebrides isles. We hope to find some better weather on our way... And yes, it is raining!
Your website is beautiful and interesting. As an architect with extreme interest in archaeology ( and having a Scottish mother ) your work has truly touched a cord with me. I have been to England and Scotland, but of the sites you are visiting, I have only visited Stonehenge. Thank you for such a beautiful contribution for us all to view.
It is always a pleasure receiving messages such as yours. You have definitely touched one of our cords saying all these nice words about our work...
Nothing to add about the stones but I would like to tell you how much I like the beautiful design of your Website. Bellissimo! (My family emigrated to the U.S. from Italy 100 years ago. I wish I could speak Italian as well as you speak English)
Well, we have tried to give our Ancient Scotland Tour website a different look from our Stone Pages site, but we are keeping some 'stone' textures. We also wanted to make the pages load as quickly as possible, so graphics are compressed to their best and we don't use 'obtrusive' backgrounds. Thanks for the compliments, but we think our English is just barely readable to understanding people as you are...
June 27th, 1998
I continue to follow your expedition with great interest (and envy). The Orkneys are particularly rich in prehistoric sites. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get around once you are there -- it is much too expensive to transport your car by ferry (one leaves it in Scrabster). It is also difficult to visit islands off the mainland of Orkney. Once, I rented a bicycle in Stromness and was able to visit Skara Brae and the Brough of Birsay that way -- with great pain at the end of the day because this bike had no gears just a pedal-to-wheel mechanism. One can also take the Stromness-Kirkwall bus and have them drop you off in the morning at the Maes Howe/Stenness complex, then catch it back later in the day. But be sure to bring your own food with you, cause there ain't nothin' out there. And be prepared for pouring rain no matter how sunny and nice it was when you started out.
After nine days in Orkney we certainly agree with you: the weather is definitely unpredictable! We've been lucky enough to have spared some money to get our Twingo up here, so touring isn't really a problem. The ferries are really expensive and usually there are just 1 or 2 crosses a day, so it is virtually impossible to visit more than one island per day.
Soldier on! I assume you are now going to do the northern and western Highlands. Be sure to check out that broch halfway down Loch Hope if you can. There are also some chambered cairns around Loch Eribol, but I was never able to find them. Smoo Cave is a natural phenomenon, but is fun to visit: people have made inscriptions on the slopes using rocks (in a cairn-like manner), which is rather interesting -- must be something in human nature that makes one leave a mark, whether grafitti or a monument.
We presume the broch you
are referring to is Dun Dornaigil (or
Dornadilla). We visited it on the 1st of July. It is certainly a beautiful
broch: a section of its wall still stands some 6.7m high. Around Loch
Eribol we visited the Laid souterrain: it is extremely
interesting, but we got extremely muddy (it was flooded).
Great site chaps! I learned about it via the Evangelist today. I live about 30 minutes from Cairnpapple and often visit - sorry to have missed you. If you're passing that way again let me know and I'll boost the tea consumption figures - we Mac users need to stick together!
Well, as you've probably
read on our diary, we really enjoyed Cairnpapple
Hill. We strongly recommend it to all the megalithic enthusiasts.
Thanks for the tea offer: we must admit that we are drinking so much tea
only because in Scotland is almost impossible to find a good Italian espresso
coffee... Paola especially is missing coffee a lot and drinks at least
two cups of tea to compensate the lack of caffeine in her blood. And yes,
we are also Mac-addicted, of course!
Your site is great! My ancestors came from Scotland and I'm hoping to travel there in the next few years. You've allowed me a glimpse of some of the sights I hope to see in person. Thanks!
Thanks for the kind words: we are trying to let the Internet community know more about the lesser known (but beautiful!) Scottish monuments.
Did you visit Old Man of Hoy on Hoy Island?
Well, we just passed by twice with the ferry: we didn't have enough time to visit it. BTW, was it named after one of your ancestors? ;-)
Joseph William Grant
Very excited at finding your site. Looking forward to observing with all of you. This is an incredible learning experience. I'll have questions for you once I've soaked up the site.
This is exactly what our site was intended to be. We are happy that you found it a learning experience and we will keep adding more information about ancient Scotland as our tour progresses.
You probably can't be bothered with this on your exciting tour, but if you could,
please tell Beverly Zech to look at my web page (http://members.tripod.com/~grobius/henge.htm). She can see Stonehenge before it was enclosed and roped off (well, you can too, and it provides and shows an explanation of sorts of why the government did this awful thing). I don't have an e-mail address for her, but she wrote to your message board.
Ok, James. We are posting your message here and we'll pass your message and your URL to Beverly Zech.
June 26th, 1998
My family and I just returned from two weeks in Great Britan including a breathtaking visit to Stonehenge (June 1998) and yes it is still roped off. Great work! Will this site remain on the web after you have completed your tour? It is a great resource! Thanks!
Yes, we'll certainly keep on the web our online diary. And hopefully we'll add soon all the new monuments we visited in the Stones of Scotland section of our main website, Stone Pages.
Love the site and I shall encourage others to view it at whether archaeologists or not !! If you get a chance pop into the caves at Wemyss in Fife. important carvings. Contact local society. -Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society. Thanks
We don't know if we'll have the time (and money) to go back to Fife... Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. We'll keep it for our next Scottish trip, promised.
Awesome site. I've always found this interesting but never delved into it in any detail. Your English is better than most people in the States. Ciao.
Thanks for the compliments, but we know that our English is far to be 'Shakespearian'. At present, we are trying to improve it reading some novels and poetry by George MacKay Brown, an excellent writer from Orkney (Scotland).
Hello. You have done a fantastic job with your web site. Your site makes sitting here in Brisbane, Australia seem like I'm there with you. It's fascinating to see and learn about the megaliths and also see a bit of the Scottish country side. Great job, well done. I look forward to your next adventure. Go Mac! All the best. Karl.
Hello again. I just found the QTVR movies. Wonderful! QTVR is such a great medium, it's the next best thing after actually visiting. You two do a great job, sponsorship for your work shouldn't be hard to find.
Yes, you are right, we also think that QTVR is a great medium. And we are happy you are enjoying our QTVR movies. Diego sometimes gets crazy in taking photos for the QTVR with his panoramic gear: if there's sunshine there are also crowds of tourists among the stones and if there are no tourists it usually rains! About sponsorship, well, we are afraid to say that we couldn't get much support for our tour. Probably an Internet diary is not interesting enough for companies like British Airways, Vodafone, Scottish Tourist Board, Europcar, P&O Scottish Ferries and Caledonian MacBryne... Anyway, we would thank again the few who trusted in our project: Olympus Italia (digital camera), KISS (solar panels) and Apple Italia (an amazing PowerBook G3: it will be hard for us to give it back at the end of our tour!)
June 25th, 1998
WOW!!!! You guys always amaze me by what you offer the rest of the world by your sites. Your travel journal is great! I was at Castlerigg circle the day before you- wish we'd run into one another. I look forward to each new installment. thanks again. Seeing as you are headed to Mull- may I suggest a B&B in Dervaig?- The Cuin Lodge- run by David and Dorothy Aitken-01688 400346.
As we would like to see once in our lives Castlerigg in the sun, we'll surely come back there some day, so we could possibly have another chance to meet you... And thanks for the B&B suggestion in Mull!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey.
The pictures are beautiful and I almost feel like I've been there myself.
Dear Elise, thanks for your warm message. When at 2 a.m. we are still working on our diary, messages such as yours are like a giant, nice cup of coffee! Your words are giving us the vitality we need to keep on doing it.
June 22nd, 1998
As a displaced (or is that misplaced?) Brit living in Texas, I am really enjoying your site (which I just discovered today, June 22). Makes me homesick! I plan to visit daily for updates. Good luck!
Thanks 'displaced' Lisa. We would really like to update our diary daily, but we are visiting so many megalithic sites that we often haven't enough time and energy to dedicate to our web diary. Anyway, we'll try to keep on updating it as frequently as possible.
June 17th, 1998
Magnificent!!!!! Your photos are splendid and your commentary clear. I have read a few books on these stones and have visited Stonehenge. I just came back from a trip to Scotland, so your tour of the stones is doubly fascinating. Many thanks.
Thanks Ethel for your kind words. We will try to include as much as lesser known Scottish sites as possible, so your next trip to Scotland could be even more interesting.
June 16th, 1998
Hello well traveled travelers! I am working on a fiction novel and need information on Stonehenge. Since the last time you visited, were the stones roped off so you couldn't stand in the middle of them? If so, how far are the ropes from the stones? I read about your interesting treck to Scotland and am very envious. I only wish I had the time and money to do the exact same thing. Good luck on your journey.
The stones are still roped off. We last visited Stonehenge on June 1997 and if our memory doesn't fail the ropes should be about 10-15 meters from the outside stone setting. There is also a kind of circular pedestrian way which cannot be trespassed. Anyway, we know that visits inside the circle can be arranged paying a quite high fee and going there off the standard opening hours.
June 14th, 1998
Have you read the series of four books by Diana Gabaldon about a woman who goes back in time by passing through a circle of stones in Scotland referred to as Craigh na Dun? Great reading. Has any of your party happened to disappear ;-)
We have to admint our ignorance: we have never heard of Diana Gabaldon's books. Probably her books have never been translated in Italian. By the way, we checked all our resources but we didn't find any reference to the stone circle you mentioned. So, it seems very unlikely that we are going to disappear :-)
Just a note to say thank you. I enjoy your diary of the trip. I was last home three years ago, now I am planning another trip to the Isle of Skye. Do you have any plans to go there?? Thanks. Please keep up the good work. You guys are doing a great job. Thanks for all your efforts. "Happy Trails"
Thanks for your message: it's just what we needed to keep us going with this diary (it is now 1:09 AM). We will certainly visit Skye: there are many megalithic sites there, including many beautiful brochs and some chambered cairns. Keep visiting our diary pages to see Skye's prehistoric highlights.
June 12th, 1998
Where are these Eslie sites? I live in Aberdeenshire and i don't know them. Also the Grampian regional council leaflets are a couple of years out of date, but still very good, as there was a local gov. re-organisation in 1996 and if anyone wants to know about any sites in this area they should contact Ian Shepherd or Moira Greig at Aberdeenshire Council, Woodhill House, Aberdeen.
Rain ? What rain ?
the Greater and Eslie the Lesser
are two very interesting stone circles lying about 4 km SE of Banchory.
Their OS maps grid references are respectively NO717916 and NO722921.
If you don't have the right OS map (sheet 38) you may both ask to Banchory
Tourist Information (a helpful lady there can show you the right way to
reach the sites) or e-mail us again. Pay attention to the bulls! Nearby,
don't miss also Garrol Wood (or Nine Stanes) stone circle. Regarding the
rain you are right: they are probably just some millions of gallons of
water thrown down from high-altitude planes to scare off tourists...
June 11th, 1998
Will be visiting Scotland in July 1998. Would like to visit stone circles again in Aberdeenshire and Mull. Am rank amateur but am intrigued. Where is "NineStanes" It is gorgeous in the photo. Would be pleased to know of a guidebook to stone circles that I might carry along to locate circles. Where might I purchase such a book(s). I depart the States on July 9th for Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire. Thank you.
In our opinion the best book about British stone circles is A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany by Aubrey Burl. On it you can find the descriptions of literally hundreds of stone rings including of course the Nine Stanes. You may order this book directly following the previous link or through our Stone Pages' bookshop which will point you to Amazon.com online bookstore. Two other excellent guides are 'Scotland' by Anna and Graham Ritchie (Oxford Archaeological Guides, Oxford University Press, 1998) and 'Scottish Prehistory' by Richard Oram (Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, 1997), a good guide with helpful descriptions to reach the sites.
Simon Holroyd ("Gort")
Hello from New Zealand. Nice to see that it still rains in Scotland!! I was last there in 1986, it rained the whole week I was in Edinburgh. I did not see any Stone Circles when I was up there, but did see some in south-east England. Maybe I will get there next year. Hope it stops raining soon, the week of Scottish summer can't be far away!!!!
Thank you Gort for your warm words. Everybody here says that it was splendid just the week before our arrival. But we already know that it is a lie. Reading that you too 'enjoyed' a whole week of rain in Edinburgh makes us feel not alone... Say hallo to beautiful New Zealand from us: we spent a joyful holiday in your country ten years ago.
June 8th, 1998
Greetings! I came accross your site after searching the web for more information following our family trip to Ireland and the fantastic Newgrange site. My son (13) is very keen on archaeology and it was his suggestion that we vist the site. He was right it has sparked off an interest and when I came on your site you had passed my home (Boroughbridge)and photographhed The Three Arrows on the same day. If you come back this way there is a fantastic restaurant in the Black Bull Pub. Remember that rain is nature's way of letting you know that you are in Scotland. When I was employed as a teacher in Edinburgh many years ago, one of the locals told me about the local weather folklore. From the town itself, if you could see the hills of Fyfe ( accross the Firth of Forth ) then it would rain. If you couldn't see it, it meant that it was raining already. Keep up the good work, I'll be following your progress from indoors!
Dear Steve, your local Scottish folklore brought more light in our day yesterday than all the Scottish sunshine! Thanks a million. You have truly cheered us up a lot.
June 6th, 1998
Brochs. I know you know about these, but I hope you will be able to include them in case they may not be on your travel path. (...) Dornadilla on Loch Hope, the Glen Beg brochs, two bochs near Brora, just above Dornoch, (...) I'm no expert in this area and would welcome hearing what you have gleaned about the subject. By the way, I have visited Castlerigg three times, and it was always in sunlight. (Not the best, but sun). (...)
Thanks for the brochs suggestion. We are going to visit some of them in our Tour (you can find already an image about Edin's Hall in our diary). We have some books about them too. We'll let you know something more when we'll be back to our 'main' compuetrs in Italy. About Castlerigg, what can we say? Three times in sunlight? You lucky guy!
"Cup marks" seem widespread on Scottish stone monuments, e.g. the Clava Cairns. Do you or your correspondents know how they were made and for what purpose?
Archaeologists and experts don't exactly know the cup marks' purpose yet. We can only report you what Graeme Chappell, a nice member of The Stones Mailing List (an Internet mailing list we are also members of), wrote once to the list about them: 'Ronald Morris collected over one hundred theories proposed by various people to explain cup marks, some were pretty bizzare --- involving laser beams from outer space?? or where generations of adders had coiled up and worn circles into a rock. One suggested that they were connected with prehistoric gold prospecting as in scotland the rock carvings occur in areas where gold occurs.
A couple of years ago I asked Britain's top rock art researcher - Stan Beckensall what he thought the carvings were about, and he said after 25 years studying and recording rock art he was non the wiser as to its purpose!!!! He originally thought they were part of some bronze age fertility
beliefs/practices, but he has found no real evidence to support this and because of this lack of evidence many people bring their own theories to the subject.'
Graeme Chappell also told us about a beautiful tradition related on cup marks: 'I have read that a cup marked stone was noticed on a farm wall in the Yorkshire pennines, the farmer called them cat troughs and put milk in the cup marks, when he was told he was carrying on an ancient tradition of leaving offerings to the old gods - he winked and said it hadn't done him any harm!'
June 5th, 1998
Firstly let me wish you every success with your tour around Scotland. Do you have plans to visit the Isle of Arran? There are lots of sites worth visiting on the island, in particular Machrie Moor which contains a total of six stone circles plus numerous standing stones,cists,burial cairns and hut circles. It really is a marvellous landscape with a very special atmosphere. Do try to visit if you get the chance. I just want to add that I think your website is great and I will be visiting it regularly.
The Isle of Arran and Machrie Moor are in our list of Scottish sites that we must visit. We only have to organize the crossing for us and our brave Twingo car to the isle. And we have to find out the cheapest ferry fares, because the Scottish ferries are so unbelievably expensive! You know, before leaving, we sought sponsorship from Caledonian MacBrayne (and also P&O Scottish ferries) in the way of some reduced tickets to the islands (we would like to go to Outer Hebrides, Mull and Orkney too). Very disappointingly, both companies haven't either replied...
Anyway, we will hopefully be able to go and admire the Machrie Moor megaliths. Follow our online diary and you'll know!
June 4th, 1998
Diana Murray, Curator NMRS
I have spent a happy half hour browsing through your site and enjoying the stone circle tour. (...) I hope you will also find time to visit us in Edinburgh as we have a large collection of photographs, plans and drawings, including the Alexander Thom collection.
Thank you, Diana. During our two days stay in Edinburgh we visited RCAHMS and spent a wonderful hour in the library (how many splendid publications on prehistoric sites! It is a researcher's heaven!), and we made tons of photocopies.
On our way back to Italy, if we'll pass again through Edinburgh, we would like very much to visit you. Just to say hallo and tell you about our tour.
June 3rd, 1998
David Clough - Director Kilmartin House Trust
When are you timetabled to pass through Kilmartin, Scotland's richest prehistoric landscape? Bring midge repellent: this seems a bad year!
See our revamped monument map of the area http:www.kht.org.uk
We don't know when we'll pass through Kilmartin yet. But of couse it is a must of our tour. We'll let you know, David. We have already midge repellent in our backpacks but we didn't use it until now: too much rain, we suppose ;-)
See you soon and thanks for the message.
Great idea! When in the Kilmartin Valley area make sure you climb up Dunadd. Its a fantastic 6th-8th century fort. And the views are fantastic. Beware the midge!
Pouring rain and midges permitting, we'll surely follow your Dunadd suggestion. Thanks John!
Marty Anne Katz-Lohr
Bless you guys for the tour diary you are doing. (...) Here's hoping you work out the phone situation so that the diary can continue. And may the Goddess bring you sunshine and good photo opportunities.
Thanks Marty for the encouraging words. Anyway, today the Goddess was certainly somewhere else because it rained cats and dogs all the day!
June 2nd, 1998
Have a brilliant time. The stone circle webring is the best thing I have found on the internet so far. Send back lots of pretty piccys. Thankyou. PS. I am very jealous.
Dear Kirsty, sorry for the very late reply to your message. Thanks for the compliments: we are blushing... Speaking of jealousy, we don't know if you could possibly be jealous of us ten days ago, when we were pretty miserable, wandering around in pouring rain trying to avoid nervous bulls in the fields of Grampian... But now, that we have visited a great part of Highlands in a wonderful sunshine and that we are enjoying very much the fabulous Orkney islands, well, we must admit that you are right to be jealous ;-)
June 1st, 1998
Your Ancient Scotland Tour is really GREAT!! It is fantastic to see the megalithic sites you have visited almost the same day you have been there!
Dear Gunnar, thanks a lot for your message: we are working on our diary late in the night, after a day spent skittering around (generally uphill) with heavy backpacks. So it is a joy for us to know that some visitors appreciate our effort.
In spite of the rain, the photos are better than what you saw in the diary. It was a tech problem that Diego has solved yesterday. So, the image gallery looks much better now.
Mary Ellen Segraves
I was in northern Scotland last October. It was an incredible trip, especially the Isle of Lewis and the Orkneys. There are standing stones everywhere! (...) When driving, beware of the single track roads. Also beware of the sheep (which are everywhere). (...) Enjoy your trip.!
Dear Mary Ellen, thanks for the suggestions. We've already been in Scotland once so we know the single track roads and their passing places. And about the sheep... in the last three days we've already met thousands of baaaaaa woolen creatures around here.
May 28th, 1998
Thanks! We would need it (especially for the weather)!
May 25th, 1998
Great site folks! I have been using it for reference for my upcoming tour of Cornwall and Wales. I am a photographer based in the US and continuing a photographic project surrounding ancient sites. I will be in the country beginning June 2nd, 1998.I very much enjoy your hard work and look forward to your tour. Best of luck in your travels.
Thanks Bill, it's always a pleasure receiving messages such as yours. We will try to update this website as frequently as possible, so keep visiting it! Good luck (especially about the weather) in your journey.
Please indicate which monuments have Observatory aspects. Thanks Paola and Diego.
We will try to include
any possible information about the sites we are going to visit. However,
as our very compact Renault Twingo car doesn't
allow us to carry our entire bookcase, for extremely detailed descriptions
you'll have to wait the next revision of Stones
| Diary | Images
| Maps | Resources
| Equipment | Stone