Midmar Stone Circle is one of the most well preserved Recumbent Stone Circles in the north east of Scotland.
How old is the Stone Circle?
It dates from the Bronze Age, and is around 4000 years old. It consists of eight stones making up an incomplete ring measuring 17m in diameter.
The stone circle has now been incorporated into the landscaped grounds of the graveyard.
Midmar Church is exceptional in that it has the combination of a church and a Stone Circle on the same site. An aerial photograph has been nominated as one of Scotland's favourite archive images. For more information visit: http://treasuredplaces.org.uk
The first Midmar church was built in the 7th Century down on the B9119 Aberdeen –Tarland road. The second church was rebuilt on the same site in 1677 and named St Nidan's
So why build a church high up on a windy hill next to a stone circle?
Midmar Church was built in 1787 under the ministry of Rev John Ogilvie. In the 18th Century a common misconception was that of attributing stone circles to the Druids.
Rev Ogilvie was for a time popular as a minor poet and the stone circle inspired his poem on ‘The Fane of the Druids’.
No one knows for certain but perhaps his interest influenced the positioning of the ‘new’ church next to the circle in 1787?
How big are the stones?
The stone circle has a diameter of around 17.0 meters. The long recumbent stone measures 4.5meters and weighs between 10 and 20 tons - as heavy as 2 buses!
The top surface of the recumbent stone has some interesting, old engravings and Masonic symbols carved on it. The pointed flankers on either side are 2.5 meters tall, and stand along with another five stones to make up the circle. It is believed that one or (perhaps) two stones may be missing from its west arc. Local lore tells that one of the stones from the circle was re-used in the construction of the church, but there is no evidence for this.
Why were Stone Circles built?
The exact purpose of Stone Circles is uncertain, but it has become generally accepted that they were to do with astronomy and marking the passage of time and the seasons. The alignment of the stones and the shade and light between them denoted the movement of the sun and the moon and the determination of the Summer and Winter solstices. This knowledge would have been of value to those who needed to know the best time to plant crops.
Which stone is the wrong way round?
Historic Scotland told us that the stone nearest the church has at some time been repositioned wrongly with the rough surface facing outwards. The other stones have their smooth sides facing outwards allowing worshippers to stand around the outside of the circle and face the smooth stone surface.