Monday – to Aberdeen and an overnight ferry

Took the new tram towards the airport, getting off at what was described as the stop for a shopping centre.  It was mainly open space, perhaps the shops come later.  We were to meet a coach at a Marriott hotel which was initially invisible, but turned out to be hiding behind trees.

Alison (30 years in Scottish museums) was our guide, and kept up a flow of information about the passing landscape.  near Dundee I photographed some of the many polytunnels of soft fruit.  Dundee is the city of three Js: Jam, Journalism and Jute.

Still a big soft fruit growing area.  The story about Capt Keiller who brought home sour Seville oranges and his wife who turned them into marmalade may be apocryphal.

Still a big soft fruit growing area. The story about Capt Keiller who brought home sour Seville oranges and his wife who turned them into marmalade may be apocryphal.

There’s no jam made there now, but I like this (unintentional) joke from Wikipedia’s reference on Dundee: “Today traditional marmalade production has become the preserve of larger businesses.”  Journalism is (for me ) Dandy and Beano, but apparently also other papers from D C Thomson.  Jute was spun and woven on an industrial scale in the 19th century once it was discovered that treating the fibres with whale oil made them less brittle. (Whaling was very big in Dundee but doesn’t begin with a J.)

We visited our first Neolithic stone circle just west and north of Aberdeen – The recumbent stone circle at the Loanhead of Daviot.  The recumbent bit comes from the huge (30 tonne) horizontal stone in the SW corner of the circle.  Alison said this was an important stone – you bet, you don’t shift a 30 tonne rock for trivial reasons.  It may be that the recumbent stone was there all on its own originally, the other upright large stones (orthostats in some texts) may have come later – or not.  Anyway, at some point a big heap of stones was built inside the circle, creating a burial cairn, covering burnt bones.  The active history of the site starts about 5000 years ago, and runs up to late Bronze Age about 800BC.

Recumbent stone circle at the Loanhead of Daviot - plus lots of visitors

Recumbent stone circle at the Loanhead of Daviot – plus lots of visitors

The isolated atmosphere of the site was hard to record with 40 of us wandering across it.  But then it rained:

Better view of the circle

Better view of the circle, with the recumbent over on the right.

Next we went to visit a lovely pink Pictish stone.  Decorated with a Christian Celtic cross on one side and traditional Pictish designs on the reverse.  Dates to 500 to 800 AD, and would have been a meeting place and place to celebrate Christianity (churches at this time being for priests and monks, not the hoi-polloi).

Faint Celtic cross above a traditional knot design, something else above.

Faint Celtic cross above a traditional knot design, something else above.

Traditional Pictish patterns - perhaps telling others about the owners of the stone - or not.

Traditional Pictish patterns – perhaps telling others about the owners of the stone – or not.

Back to Aberdeen and our ferry – the Hroosey – and a flat calm journey.

Leaving the granite city behind

Leaving the granite city behind

Dinner on board,  a great sunset after 10pm

After the sun had set the colours got better

After the sun had set the colours got better

and Valhalla Brewery (Shetland) as well as Orkney Brewery beers

Simmer Dim is the name of that not-quite dark night in mid summer at these high latitudes

Simmer Dim is the name of that not-quite dark night in mid summer at these high latitudes – keg beer, but good for all that.

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