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Getting stoned in the right circles

I never knew there was stone circle, or part of a stone circle, in the Sighthill area of Glasgow.

I feel obliged to visit it, perhaps performing some sort of ceremony, wearing my John Lewis cloak and some peculiar millinery as I chant about the goddess (Kate Bush) and the moon and, if there is time before the police arrive, the numbers that I pray will come up on the lottery.

I’ve visited stone circles before, at Callanish on Lewis and Brodgar on Orkney, and in reality I dress soberly and try to give the impression of being vaguely academic (until my copy of Viz magazine falls from the pocket of my corduroy jacket).

It’s difficult to know what to think when visiting stone circles nowadays.

You walk in and look close-up at one stone. Then you walk round the rest, take a picture and say in a vaguely melancholic tone: “Aye.”

One is given to understand that the circles have some astronomical purpose, which is a bit irritating. Hitherto, you’d assumed haughtily that the dopes who built the circle couldn’t tell Uranus from their elbow. Now it turns out they knew more about ooter space than you do – you who can identify the plough on a good night and keep wondering which of the other shiny lights is Mars.

The stone circle at Sighthill was at least constructed in our own era, rendering it a little less mysterious and almost prosaic, though, as The Herald reported, some local children are afraid of it and believe it’s used for black magic. I’m not sure where they get this idea, especially since the only people who go near it arrive in a van marked “Parks Department”.

You do hear some stories about them, mind, but I cannot believe they carry a torch for Lucifer, the weeder of souls. Not officially anyway. Generally speaking, your council taxpayer doesn’t want his money spent on Satan.

A mission is now under way to complete the circle and to have some signage explaining its benign purpose. It was created in the late 1970s by amateur astronomer and science writer Duncan Lunan, who says the site is of cosmic importance. Funding came from the Job Creation Scheme, which used Scottish oil money to disguise the true rate of unemployment. Unfortunately, Margaret Thatcher – there’s your black magic angle – couldn’t see any way of getting money out of the stones and pulled the plug on the project before it was complete.

What was the point of that? If there’s any project meriting the adage “I’ve started so I’ll finish”, you’d think it would be a stone circle. Even the ancients, when they got hacked off lugging the huge stones about, must have thought: “Well, we might as well finish the ruddy thing now.”

I was staggered to read that the four stones needed to complete the circle have lain hidden under some bushes for years. You’d think it wouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to bung them in. They don’t look that big. Still, this being Glasgow, everyone involved was probably a socialist and, therefore, unable to do anything without public funding. I jest, of course. The stones were so heavy they had to be winched in by air. Still, if you’ve a helicopter about your person, you might want to pitch in now.

It’d be fine if the circle could be revived, even if it were more likely to be visited by strange folk in white shellsuits than white cloaks. But at solstice time it could be visited by these splendid loonies (lunar types, literally) who come out in their horror-movie outfits and dance about orgiastically. I often wonder what these folk do the rest of the year. Iron their garments? Read improving texts about horned gods? Still, at least they never bother ordinary citizens, except during their human sacrifices, and that’s just once a month.

Meanwhile, I wish Duncan well with his bold attempt to arrange boulders spherically. In ages hence, long after the nuclear balloon has gone up, folk will come at night to marvel at the stones, as the moon shines coldly over the ancient, mystical land of Sighthenge.

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