Friends of Grampian Stones
FOGS Vernal Equinox News
Volume X number 3, Summer 1999
After the Eclipse.. 'diamond ring'
WHILE astronomers are polishing their telescopes and seeking out B&Bs in
Cornwall or gites in the south of France and Alderney, some of us may view the total solar
eclipse (partial but up to 80% visible on home ground in NE Scotland) on August 11th with
some dismay. After all, that seems to have been the purpose, according to hoards of modern
authors, [from Hawkins in 1965 & Thom in 1967 to the latest rash of 1999 internet
theorists] of titivating Stonehenge with updated alignments around 1200 bce, and, as some
speculate, of early cupmark decoration on established stones in circles elsewhere. Already
the Nostradamus camp is waxing eloquent on the significance of the sun's totality in one
week and the astrological 'Grand Cross' configuration of the planets in the next. Few
would argue that signs hammered out in the New Testament book of Revelation have begun to
show alarming similarity to life in the late months of the 20th century. It may be of some
solace to ponder the infinite, to look back on Man's achievements of 5000 years and to
remember his ability to advance technologically and spiritually through the aeons. It may
help to remember that our forefathers not only marvelled at and celebrated the seasons but
marked their passage for eternity in the bosom of Mother Earth. It was nature worship
which protected our planet & one to which, some believe, we might return in order to
save her. When the moon's shadow moves on to reveal a new era, we might like to meditate
on what we can do to help.
Dupplin: In Situ or In Seclusion?
Visitors to the new Museum of Scotland are stunned by the great cross of Dupplin beckoning towards the Medieval
Collections. While this curatorial prize must be high on the list of viewing by any
Pictophile, one wonders how the bare hillside above Forteviot feels now bereft of its
raison d'Ítre. Our Samhain newsletter Vol.X number 1 gave opinion for & against
removal of antiquities from original sites, the Dupplin
Cross being one of the most 'hot potatoes' in heated debate spanning several years. What
has emerged while Historic Scotland (HS) indicated the move was one of 'conservation', is
a 'temporary' loan agreement with landowner Lord Forteviot & placing it as fulcrum for
the Medieval collection. While the loan has a finite termination date, the cross has,
according to Curator Dr David Caldwell, 'created a great deal of interest and we would be
very happy to keep it in the Museum.'
In Dr Caldwell's position, no doubt we would agree it embodies any curator's dream, but
from the standpoint of the nation of Scotland, does this not speak volumes for our
inability to find an appropriate solution to an ever-growing quest for the conservation
compromise? Dr Caldwell, give him his due, is aware of both sides of an emotional
'Obviously the cross was originally made for Dupplin
and therefore ideally that's where it should be,' he said.
But its significance as a quintessentially early Alban monument (engraved with the name of
King Constantin son of Fergus, High King of the Picts who died AD820 before the 'Kingdom
of Picts & Scots' was formed)) apparently revved up HS' acquisitive clutch.
Now two pieces shedding light on Forteviot's claim as the Pictish capital are disembodied:
the great Forteviot arch, an impressive 4ft/1.2m (inner dia.) single span of carved
sandstone, possible remnant of Constantin's palace-chapel or basilica built by his
brother-successor Oengus which fell into the Water of May, and now the Dupplin Cross, leave little in the valley of the
Earn to show its former glory. If the future for our carved stones is to be internal, may
we plead for urgent allocation of Heritage funds to build human-scale locally-apt museums
close to appropriate sites, not only to fulfil a tourism goal, but also to provide an
insight into historical importance of now-rural but once royal hilltop residences.
Scottish Episcopal Palaces
Aberdeenshire residents and visitors may again be treated to the experience of an ongoing
archaeological investigation in the foundations of the Medieval Episcopal Palace at
Fetternear outside Kemnay. The project, led by Drs. Penny Dransart of University of Wales
at Lampeter & Nick Bogdan of Aberdeenshire, has already unveiled exciting new finds in
two full seasons; these include medieval double-sided bone comb, two prunts (glass seals)
with coats of arms of Counts Leslie and a 1901 golf ball rubber inner lining! Interested
members may request a .jpeg diagram from email@example.com
or visit the site at NJ 724 172 between August 3-30 (not 7,28th).
ACTIVE FOGS member, prolific author & dowsing aviator, Capt. Peter Donaldson has done
it again. [See our newsletters vol.viii, no.1 1996 & viii no. 2, 1997]. Two reports
prepared fromresults of his innovative surveying method at NE stone circles are again
being made available to members for a nominal fee. This is not only a labour of love, but
a bargain. In his updated report on Loanhead of Daviot, elegantly named with apologies to
Evelyn Waugh, his findings are remarkable, tempting the most recalcitrant archaeologist; a
briefer report on Tarland's Tomnaverie, when compared with recent excavation, reveals
knowledge of finds at time of publishing known only to the archaeological team from the
University of Reading, who were indeed surprised. Again he offers FOGS an illustrated
report at less than cost. Loanhead Revisited includes 10pp colour diagrams £4; Tomnaverie
+ 3pp colour £1.50 but both reports can be sent inclusive of p+p for total £5. Capt.
Donaldson on 011+44 (0)1467 671451. click here for his Loanhead
Stop press... Perthshire: a new survey at the site of a cupmarked stone has revealed an
unrecorded stone circle.
Discovery & Excavation
FOGS are reminded as complementary members of the Council for Scottish Archaeology (CSA),
you are entitled/encouraged to record any find of importance via the annual publication
Discovery & Excavation in Scotland (DES). Forms obtainable from CSA, NMS Edinburgh EH1
1JF (a separate form for each find) for annual deadline of October 31. Mentioning Friends
of Grampian Stones as sponsor is always helpful.
TEN of Scotland's museums have joined to promote wider access to the country's heritage: a
season ticket valid at all participating outlets. In additon to Edinburgh's Royal Museum
& the Museum of Scotland, NE venues include Fraserburgh's Lighthouse Museum,
Kingussie's Highland Folk Museum & the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther, Fife.
feedback is welcome:
©1999 Friends of Grampian Stones
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