'Ancient' Stone Circle Turns Out to Be '90s Replica

Scottish farmer fooled archaeologists
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2019 4:00 AM CST
'Ancient' Stone Circle Turns Out to Be '90s Replica
The not-so-ancient Leochel-Cushnie stone circle.   (Aberdeenshire Council)

An "ancient" stone circle in Scotland turned out to be as authentic a Neolithic relic as Spinal Tap's stage props. After the owner of a farm in Leochel-Cushnie, Aberdeenshire, contacted authorities about a stone circle on his property, archaeologists investigated the site and concluded that it was an authentic—if unusually small—monument that was probably thousands of years old, the Guardian reports. They were later contacted by the farm's previous owner, who told them it was a replica he had built in the 1990s. The monument was a "recumbent" stone circle, with a monolith on its side, a type of ancient stone circle found only in the Aberdeenshire area and the southwest of Ireland.

Neil Ackerman, historic environment record assistant at Aberdeenshire Council, said that while the truth is disappointing, the monument is in a "fantastic location" and he hopes people continue to enjoy it, the BBC reports. "It is obviously disappointing to learn of this development, but it also adds an interesting element to its story," he says. "That it so closely copies a regional monument type shows the local knowledge, appreciation, and engagement with the archaeology of the region by the local community." He says most recumbent stone circles were built 3,500 to 4,500 years ago, though they are "notoriously difficult to date." (Last year, scientists learned more about the people buried at Stonehenge.)

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