Posted by: christinelaennec | June 20, 2010

A day in the Angus countryside

My dear friend Gay is here visiting – it’s very exciting!  We’ve been friends since we were 10, and having her here has been great.  One day last week I played hooky and we took a trip out to the country.  We went south of Aberdeen, to several places I’d never been to.  The sun came out – it was beautiful.

The Aberlemno Stones

These Pictish / Christian “cross-slabs” (from about the 8th century) are to be found in the churchyard, and also along the side of the road that runs through the village.  Typically, they have Pictish carvings on one side, and a Celtic cross on the other.

Standing stone in Aberlemno kirkyard - a battle scene with Pictish symbols such as the "Z" (on its side at the top) and the round mirror (top right)

Other side of the standing stone in the Aberlemno kirkyard - a beautiful Celtic cross. (I am texting the Dafter in the background!)

The Celtic carvings fascinated Gay and me.  One group of intertwining creatures seems to depict two “water-horses”.  There are Gaelic stories from the early 20th century of supernatural horses that live in the water and come out to cause mischief or even abduct children (so the water horse predates the 2007 movie by about a millenium).

Detail from the cross-slab in Aberlemno kirkyard: water-horses?

We had a wee picnic by one of the stones that stands alongside the road.  We particularly liked the reading angels that flank the middle of the cross.  The angel on the right is the easiest to make out:  her head is bent over her book, and one of her wings is spread behind her to the right.  Her other wing is behind her head and her book.

Cross-slab near the road running through Aberlemno: the middle of the cross is flanked by two angels reading books.

The wheat-fields were nearly as beautiful as the stones.  You have to imagine the field dancing in the wind:

Wheat field, Aberlemno

The road down to Kinneff church

Kinneff Church

We next went to Kinneff church, nestled right down by the North Sea.

This church is where, during the time that Cromwell was ransacking Scotland trying to find and destroy the Scottish crown jewels (1651 – 1660), the minister and his wife at Kinneff hid them under the church floorboards at great risk to their lives.  Every few months they would take the crown and sceptre out and dry them by a fire to prevent damage from the damp salt air.

Say it with flowers: The Scottish Crown Jewels. I wish I had noted the name of the woman who made this!

Gay and I were amazed and impressed by a reacreation of the Scottish crown jewels, made entirely from dried flowers and petals.

Catterline beach

We spent a happy hour gathering limpet shells (and two cowries) on the far side of the beach at Catterline, a bit further up the coast.  The colours of the stones there amazed us.

Stones on Catterline beach

We returned to Aberdeen in time for tea – very happy indeed.


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