Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rhynie Man, the Maiden Stone and Banff: A Busy Day!

Rhynie Man stands in the entrance foyer of Woodhill House, the headquarters of the Aberdeenshire Council.
The Aberdeenshire Council has published a series of leaflets on the Archaeology of N. E Scotland.  We have picked up several of them.  They are very helpful in finding the odd pieces of history we are interested in.  Rhynie Man was by far the easiest to find, as he did not involve hiking into fields or driving down one lane tracts.  We went to a big parking lot at the government complex in Aberdeen and walked into a very modern building.  When the woman at the desk asked how she could help,  I held up the brochure, saying," We've come to visit this gentleman."  She was genuinely pleased.  We were sent to the next building over, walked in and there he was.

There were two women at this desk, again asking how they could help.  I held up the brochure, saying, "We've come to visit this gentleman, and here he is!"  Again, that look of being genuinely pleased.  Bill took pictures, while I admired him.  The carving is very well preserved.  When we were about ready to leave, I turned to the women at the desk and asked them to tell who ever was responsible for the series of brochures, "Thank You", as they were not only informative, but actually directed us to the right location to find the places.  At this point, one of them picked up the phone saying, "I'll call him right now.  He'll come talk to you.  He's really nice and will be very pleased."  Not at all what I was expecting.

Rhynie Man's head and ax show well here.
A couple of minutes later, we met Bruce, the archaeologist for Aberdeenshire.  He is a young man with a big smile, who obviously enjoys his work.  He told us of several excited things on the horizon, as well as a couple of places to find more stones that aren't on their brochures yet.  We made a few suggestions on helping to find the places.  Then he gave us their newest pamphlet on Pictish Stones.  Now we were ready to go on the hunt!
The Maiden Stone stands on the side of the road.
We were headed to Banff, but once again a road sign sent us off another direction, where we found the Maiden Stone.  As we got out of our car, another car had pulled into the car park.  I walked pass the woman, nodding and saying good morning, she asked if we were tourist.  Turns out she is Patricia Oddie, the Aberdeenshire Councillor for Ward No. 10.  She asked if she could take our picture and where we were from.  We told her about meeting Bruce, who she knew.  Unfortunately, we didn't take her picture!  I did, however, think to give her one of my Ben's Kindness Coins from Tucson.  As I explained what it was, she rubbed her finger over it and told us how she was fighting cancer at the moment and such acts of random kindness made such a difference.

On the base of Maid Stone the mirror and comb show very clearly.

Each side has the beautiful interwoven designs carved,  that the Picts are known for.
We drove back to the A96 and on to Banff.  The carpark let us pay for 2 hours, so that's how long we would stay.  The castle grounds, even though there is no castle left, were just across the street.  We walked around a bit, then, noticing how the locals were flocking into a small cafe, decided to join them for lunch.
Bill had a bacon and egg roll, while I had homemade tomato soup with a big chunk of brown bread.  We splurged on dessert, too,  Chocolate cake for me and a Millionaire bar (chocolate and caramel on a cookie crust) for Bill.  YUM!

A bloom on a Monkey Puzzle tree, made it look as if it were decorated with Christmas balls.

View from the castle grounds down to the beach; the first sand beach we've found,
After lunch, a stroll around the water front to view the boats.  Their small boat harbor was full of not just day sailors, but cruisers as well.  The local sailing club's building was near by.  We enjoyed Banff; it would be a nice place to visit for a longer stay.

One side of the small boat harbor; there were two such basins.
We drove back home after our busy day, avoiding Aberdeen and it's traffic.

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