Between 3,500 and 4,500 years old. This is the age that has been given to a fascinating stone circle discovered in Scotland, in the county of Aberdeenshire. This circular alignment of rocks with unusual characteristics is fascinating, to say the least.
Discovered on the grounds of a farm in Leochel-Cushnie, the stone circle first surprised archaeologists by its nature. It turned out to contain a very rare element: a long lying stone. A characteristic which classifies it in the category of stone circles known as 'recumbent' stone circles, very rare and only present in Scotland as well as in Ireland. In addition to this mineral singularity, the geometry of the construction was also quite exceptional.
With a diameter smaller than the other stone circles, made up of smaller rocks, and devoid of elements typical of such archaeological remains—in particular that of a cairn, a mass of stones generally present in this type of place,—the stone circle of Leochel-Cushnie is quite simply one of a kind. It was particularly exciting for archaeologists at Historic Environment Scotland—a public agency responsible for the protection of Scottish heritage—and the Aberdeenshire Council Archeology Service (ACAS), Aberdeenshire's archaeological service.
But against all odds, the élan abruptly subsided. For good reason: the unexpected revelations of the owner of the land on which the stone circle was discovered.
The farmer has indeed admitted that he was at the source of this a priori historical construction. By his own admission, he would have erected the stones of the circle in the 1990s. His goal: to create a replica of the real archaeological remains that are one of the county's characteristics. A disconcerting revelation for archaeologists, who nonetheless remain thoughtful in the face of this disappointment.
A disillusion ultimately quite relative
The archaeologist Neil Ackerman had this to say in a statement published by the Council of Aberdeenshire:
It is obviously disappointing to learn this new fact, but it also adds an interesting element to its history. The fact that he so faithfully reproduces a monument typical of the region demonstrates the local knowledge, the taste and the commitment of the local community for the region's archaeology.
Far from being pure deception, the construction carried out by the Scottish farmer—apparently solely for his own pleasure—is of such quality that it nevertheless arouses a considerable amount of interest from archaeologists.
We always welcome reports of any new modern reconstruction of ancient monuments, especially those built with the [same] skill as this stone circle and referring to existing types of monuments.
30 years or 30 centuries, it doesn't really matter—as the saying goes, if they are good enough, they are old enough.