ATTRACTION: Stuart Shilcock has played host to visitors from all over the world at the stone circle in the garden of his home in Ballinluig, south of Pitlochry. Picture: Steven Cox
Travellers from as far away as Hawaii and Mexico have visited the standing stones at Stuart Shilcock and Julie Kent's home in Perthshire.
The couple say some of their unexpected visitors have performed strange quasi-religious rituals involving incense and stone-hugging.
Mr Shilcock, 61, and Ms Kent, 60, have got so used to strangers turning up they've started a guest book for visitors to log their thoughts.
Mr Shilcock said: "You get all sorts. Some people like to think it's a spiritual area. One chap came and sat in the middle of the circle and burnt some incense sticks because he thought it made things a bit purer.
"Others just liked to stand here and think about what would have happened in the past. I don't really know what's in their minds. I haven't had any blond virgins dance naked round it unfortunately."
Mr Shilcock bought the semi-wrecked house in Ballinluig, south of Pitlochry, for a bargain from a local estate agent in 1979 when the stones were covered in reeds and rubbish.
Once he tidied up the garden and converted it into a nursery the stones were revealed in their true glory and now attract around 100 visitors a year. However, the couple are baffled over the reasons for the interest.
One recent American visitor particularly sticks in his mind.
"She got her little dowsing rod out and a little crystal and was walking around. She started hugging the stones," Mr Shilcock recalled.
"I was just working away [on the plants] and she said 'Can't you feel it? Can't you feel there's a magnetism and electricity here?'
"There is an electricity here – itis called the National Grid and it runs right above the stones. So I tapped her on the shoulder, said nothing and just pointed up. Two whacking great pylons. I just couldn't help myself."
The stones range from 3ft to 6ft in height and are believed to date back to 2500BC. They formed a Bronze Age ceremonial area for a local settlement which believed the underwater stream below the site would carry souls to the afterlife.
An excavation in the 1850s uncovered two clay urns containing burnt bones, but they turned out to be more modern additions not dating back to the circle's ancient origins.
Pitlochry derives from the Gaelic "Pit Cloich Aire", meaning, place of the Sentinel Stone, and it was originally a Pictish settlement and the area is said have a number of the landmark objects.
At the time of the excavation a minister described how the ground was "different, reddened as if soaked with centuries of blood", but Mr Shilcock dismisses spiritual links.
"Nothing haunted, no magical lay lines or anything like that. It was just put there by ordinary human beings like us, for their purposes," he said.
Mr Shilcock said despite the interest he had no plans to start charging. "It is an interesting local site and it should be open," he said.
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