A Stonehenge-like stone circle, initially believed to be up to 4,500 years old was actually constructed in the 1990s, red-faced archaeologists have been forced to admit.
The recumbent stone circle was found in in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie in Aberdeenshire, north-east Scotland. It was initially found to be conspicuously small in diameter with relatively small stones used in its construction, but researchers pointed to the diverse nature of such structures as reason enough to continue their investigation.
Recumbent stone circles, so called for the large stone laid on its side which is typically flanked by two upright stones in the south-east to south-west of the circle, are dotted across the landscape of northeastern Scotland.
According to the Scottish Forestry Commission, such stone circles may have been used in prehistoric times to record the seasons or perform funeral and ceremonial rites.
“This amazing new site adds to our knowledge of these unique monuments and of the prehistoric archeology of the area,” Neil Ackerman, the council’s historic environment record assistant, said in its statement at the time. “It is rare for these sites to go unidentified for so long, especially in such a good condition.”
Researchers even spoke to one member of a local farming family, now in her 80s, who said she remembered seeing the stone circle at some time in the 1930s.
However, a previous owner of the farm where the circle was discovered has now come forward to tell the local council that he built it himself in the 1990s. Understandably, the research has been “cut short.”
“It is obviously disappointing to learn of this development, but it also adds an interesting element to its story,” Ackerman said, in a rather embarrassing, though good-natured, climbdown. “I hope the stones continue to be used and enjoyed – while not ancient it is still in a fantastic location and makes for a great feature in the landscape.”
If you are having an awkward day at work at least you’re not that guy who identified a new prehistoric stone circle to the press that now turns out to be about 20 years old. https://t.co/9EGmb9H3pO
— Neil Ackerman (@ncackerman) January 21, 2019
very nicely handled though and hands up to the farmer who built it – must have made a good job of it!
— Archaeology Scotland (@ArchScot) January 21, 2019
Someone Who Shall Be Nameless once identified from aerial photos a stone alignment which turned out to be sheep heading for their feeding station
— Madeleine Gray (@heritagepilgrim) January 21, 2019
Oooops! You could still use it for something. Contact your local Wiccans!
— NoctisEqui (@equi_noctis) January 21, 2019
The Aberdeenshire archaeologists needn’t worry too much, however, as such spoofs, intentional or otherwise are relatively commonplace.
Take the authentic Iron Age sword that was discovered in a bizarre modern-day replica village which included “Standing stones, a ‘medieval’ tower, carved stone heads, some of the series of ‘votive offerings’” in Llygadwy, in southern Wales.
There was also the rather silly case of the ‘viking settlement’ discovered in Fife that later turned out to be the remains of a 1940s garden patio.
Lastly, there was the infamous case of the so-called ‘Cardiff Giant‘ one of many hoaxes perpetrated at the end of the 19th century as a get-rich-quick scheme.
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