In late November, I rather impulsively pre-ordered a limited batch release of The Sassenach, Sam Heughan’s new premium blended Scotch whisky. (Sam Heughan is the Scottish actor who plays Jamie Fraser on the mega-hit television series “Outlander.”) Reserve Bar was the only place from which to buy it here in the U.S. It’s a darn good thing I snagged it when I did because it is now completely sold out. It took a little over two months to ship and arrive from Scotland, but last week, arrive it did!
Greetings to you this beautiful day. Today I would like to take you guys into the beautiful Scottish Highlands to Croft Moraig Stone Circle. Our destination is located about four miles southwest of Aberfeldy, right off of A827. It occupies a portion of a farmer’s field, so you may want to grab your wellies just in case it’s muddy. Ready? Great, then let’s be off!
Don’t fret that the site sits on private property. Scotland’s laws allow individuals “freedom to roam.” Just be respectful and be sure to close the farmer’s gate.
Most people probably think of Stonehenge when they think of a stone circle. It is one of Britain’s most iconic sites – and of course, the location of one of the Griswold Family’s hilarious misadventures.
If you are a fan of the “Outlander” series, then you might imagine Craigh na Dun, the fictional standing stones that transported Claire from the Scottish Highlands in 1946 to the year 1743…and ultimately led her to the man who would become the great love of her life.
Oh Jamie, you beautiful, beautiful man…
Oops, sorry, lost myself there for a second.
While Croft Moraig Stone Circle isn’t quite as impressive as Stonehenge or as captivating as the fictional Craigh na Dun, but it is still pretty amazing. Especially when you take the time to consider the mysterious purposes for which this circular rock structure was built.
Alternately spelled ‘Croftmoraig,’ this recumbent, horseshoe-shaped stone circle dates from the Neolithic through the Bronze Ages. Shards of Neolithic pottery were discovered on the site and dated to around 3,000 B.C. Guys, that’s a few thousand years ago! I can hardly comprehend it. Croft Moraig is one of several ancient sites in the Tay River Valley. Historians point to this as an indication of how important the area was as a home and transport route for ancient peoples.
“They [recumbent stone circles] get their name because one large stone in the circle is laid on its side, or is ‘recumbent’. We think ancient peoples might have used these circles to record the seasons or the passage of the sun and moon. They may have hosted funerary pyres or ceremonial bonfires. Whatever their purpose, they have fascinated people for generations.” –Forestry Commission Scotland
Croft Moraig was excavated in 1965 by Stuart Piggott and Derek Simpson. It is a complex double-stone circle, and it was determined that it had been built in three separate phases of construction. A thousand years or more may have separated each stage of its development.
Archaeologists and historians may never truly understand the purposes for which stone circles were constructed, but some probable theories include:
*a place for worship and/or sacrifice
*burial grounds (human bone has been found at Stonehenge, for example)
*a place for healing
*a cosmic observatory of sorts – stones aligned to astronomical events
Or, as Mr. C suggested, maybe the ancient peoples just needed a place to sit around the campfire while they ate their hotdogs and s’mores! Silly Mr. C.
Whatever the reasons, stone circles are mysterious, fascinating, and definitely stir the imagination. I hope you enjoyed our little adventure.
Thanks so much for coming along with me today. I’ll see you next time when I attempt to make Scotch eggs! Yikes! Have a great rest of the week, friends.
*Photo of rain boots courtesy of Pexels