Last week I was in Texas, minding my own business, when I commented on Ailish Sinclair’s site about Standing Stones in Scotland. I told her that I remembered a beautiful white quartz recumbent stone in the field next to our rented cottage near New Deer in Scotland. At the time, the site was barely noted historically but via Ailish I discovered that they are two of the Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie. It was a strange moment, like the notorious series Outlander, but much cooler. I was instantly transported back to the prettiest house we have ever lived in with so many happy memories.
For all the non-Scots, the Scottish Standing Stones were believed to be constructed by the Pictish people or their precursors, mostly in the North East of Scotland starting in Neolithic times. Stonehenge is a magnificent example of a similar but much bigger Standing Circle. They are found all over the south west of England, Wales, Brittany and Scotland. The people of those areas were among the earliest tribes in Britain. Not much is known about the Picts and their written language was Runic so there is a limit to our understanding. The Gaelic people were the next settlers and there language overtook the Pictish one. Certain names date back to the Picts and you can recognize them by their prefix – Aberdeen and Pitmedden are two examples. By contrast Auchmaliddie has a Gaelic root. The Picts’ name for Scotland was Alba.
We were renting the cottage at Auchmaliddie while our new house was being built in a neighboring village. Although we had been living in a hamlet previously, this was right out in the Boonies. I had to persuade the farmer to allow us to rent as the previous tenants with dogs had really damaged the cottage. As soon as we moved in, I wished we could have bought this sweet cottage instead of our new bungalow. It was blissfully quiet with gentle lowing of the cattle. That summer was particularly warm so we didn’t realize how cold and damp the cottage was. It was so hot that we had to leave the bedroom window open (that doesn’t happen in the North East of Scotland because winter is always coming beyond the wall).
Our three cats had rarely been allowed out in our last house as we were on an arterial road. At the cottage they could roam free. Pippy, our difficult cat, loved to climb out the open bedroom window, scamper down the tree and sleep with the dairy cows in the barn at the neighbor’s dairy farm. There were a glut of voles (in the US they are called meadow mice) that year and even our tooth challenged baby Puss caught one. I have a funny memory of Teddy chasing her in circles around the cottage to make her drop the vole. We had rescued Puss the year previously – she was feral and full of worms. It took so long to get her healthy that Ted was determined that she drop the dratted worm infested vole. On the way back from one of the circuits, I noticed that Puss was voleless. Cleverly, she had dropped the vole in the potato patch. Teddy searched futilely for the now deceased vole but Puss found it later and ate it much to Teddy’s disgust. He gets all OCD about parasites… wuss.
I remember when we discovered the Rocking Stones on a summer evening walk to the next field at the top of the hill. The sparkling white of the quartz recumbent stone was otherworldly. Bronze age or Neolithic folks had celebrated or worshiped on this very spot and could see the next set of Standing Stones at Aikey Brae from the summit. My first secret thought was that blood sacrifices would look spectacular on the white stone. There was no record that they did that but it was the first hint of my native Mexican blood running thought me, perhaps?? I thank Ailish for sparking a long lost memory and inspiring a series of blogs set at the cottage. As far as I know, I did not know Ailish in Scotland even though we lived just miles apart. It is a marvelous small world.