A wooded copse on a hillside just north of the B9119 a little over a mile west of Echt is home to the Sunhoney Recumbent Stone Circle. This is a stone circle of some 25.4m diameter comprising nine standing stones plus a large horizontal (or "recumbent") stone which has an upright flanking stone at either side of it.
There are many recumbent stone circles across Aberdeenshire. They were built by farming communities over 4,000 years ago and were intended to allow them to chart the seasons.
At Sunhoney the recumbent stone is aligned to point at the spot on a distant hillside from which the moon rises at certain times of the year. As with most of these stone circles, it seems that the original use of Sunhoney was no longer relevant to those who lived here by the middle of the second millennium BC. Nonetheless, as a place built by the ancestors it must still have been a place of reverence.
Digging in 1865 suggests that the circle became the location of cremation burials and over time one or more cairns developed in the centre of the ring. What is particularly interesting at Sunhoney is that it seems to have remained a place of reverence ever since. The circle itself and the copse of trees that surround it suggest an complete absence of disturbance by agriculture.
Some of Aberdeenshire's stone circles are in the care of the state, and looked after and signposted by Historic Environment Scotland. Others are signposted by Aberdeenshire Council. Sunhoney Stone Circle is less easy to find than many as it is not signposted from the nearest main road at all. To reach it you drive up the access road to the farmstead at Sunhoney, taking care to leave your car where it won't cause an obstruction in an area that is signed. From here you continue on foot up the hill to your north, before turning west onto a track that leads between fields to the circle itself.
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Grid Ref: NJ 715 057