Thursday, 25 November 2010

March Stones 32 to 36 ABD

Aha, right. Back to the March Stones.

Aberdeen's cultural histobunk periodical "The Leopard" published a splendid and helpful article titled "Aberdeen's Stones of Time" by Aberdeen City Council's Chris Croly. Chris also published the council's "March Stones Trail" leaflet (pdf) which has been indispensable as we've sought out these sometimes enigmatic artifacts.

Part of the article in The Leopard highlights the ancient aspect of the stones, some of the older 'earth-fast' stones significantly pre-dating the later 'ABD' engraved stones. We've seen some of these more ancient stones already, notably the large glacial erratic 'earth-fast' stones at nos. 16 and 18nos. 23 and 25 and no. 31.

Finding these more ancient stones is somehow especially satisfying - you get a feeling of achievement from researching the locations, tramping across the rough ground, jumping burns, sinking into bogs, getting snagged on barbed wire and seeing the site (and sight!) that many before over the last 500 years and longer have used as a significant marker of property, propriety, politics and populace. Indeed, stones 26 to 30 sit on the boundary of the unitary authority (Aberdeen City Council) to this day. But while the stones have long-since been supplanted as practical boundary markers by the growth of the city and improvements in surveying and cartographic technology, there they still sit, waiting for us to discover and use that discovery as a construct around which to build a psychogeographical journey.

We were aware that other towns and cities have historical stone boundary markers, and so we were delighted by Richard Miles' fascinating BBC programme "Ancient Worlds". In episode one, Miles tells us about the very first cities which developed from 5000 BC in the middle east's "fertile crescent" between the Persian Gulf and the Levant. From the very first cities of Sumer (Sumeria) these cities and their successors marked their limits with splendid boundary stones.

This one's Babylonian, about 3000 years old. The pictographic and cuniform inscription is the title deed to the land, as well as its boundary marker. "The Establisher of the Boundary Forever"

Image courtesy of the British Museum. Many thanks.

Not as ancient or explicitly magnificent, Aberdeen's boundary stones 32 ABD and 33 ABD are found in the fold between Brimmond Hill and Elrick Hill. These retain both the more ancient 'earth-fast' stones and the more recent engraved 'ABD' numbered stone markers.

Ancient and more recent.

Saucer-hole and witter holes

The saucer hole is full of water, and has a red tinge.
While scholars can read and fully understand the explicit cuniform and pictogram inscriptions on the Babylonian markers, the Aberdeen stones retain an enigmatic dimension; no-one can say for sure what function (ritualistic or practical) the 'saucer marks' and 'witter-holes' fulfilled.

Stone 34 ABD is accessed by crossing one of the holes of the Craibstone Golf Centre at Greenwelltree (our thoughts about golf have been recorded elsewhere - ugh!).

The stone is quite difficult to find - follow the dry stane dyke towards Glendale. The electrified barbed wire fence is somewhat less than friendly.

Between Stones 34 ABD and 35 ABD we see other markers laden with psychogeographical significance - these mark the route of the Forties Oil Pipeline as it skirts the west of the city on its way from landfall at Cruden bay to its destination at the Kinneil plant at Grangemouth.

Just south east of the pipeline marker, we find stone 35 ABD

And further along the same dry-stane dyke - stone 36 ABD.

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