9 of Scotland's ancient (and not so ancient) stone circles and where to find them

Scattered across Scotland there are scores of mysterious stone circles, many dating back millennia, while others, thanks to brazen Aberdeenshire farmers, are less than a quarter of a century old.

Sighthill stone circle

The most ancient examples of these stone circles, many of which are thought to have been placed specifically for astronomical purposes by our Neolithic forebears, are truly fascinating. While newer sites, such as the circle at Glasgow's Sighthill housing estate and the 'fake' ancient circle at Leochel-Cushnie in Aberdeenshire, also have their own story to tell. We take a look at 9 examples of stone circles and where to find them.

Excavated in the late 1970s during the development of a new housing estate, Balfarg consists of two standing stones that were part of an inner circle inside the henge. Archaeologists discovered pottery fragments around the site going back nearly 5000 years. Picture: Michael Westwater/Public Domain

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Scotland's most famous stone circle, the standing stones at Callanais are thought to have been erected during the late Neolithic era, some 4,500 years ago. The circle consists of thirteen stones with a monolith close to the centre.
The first astronomically-aligned stone circle to be erected in Britain in 3000 years, the Sighthill stone circle is situated within a large housing estate and was primarily built as a tribute to the megalith builders of the distant Neolithic era.
Designated UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1999, Brodgar is among the best examples of a stone circle to be found in the UK. Its age remains the subject of debate, but it is thought to be at least 4000 years old.
Also known as the Standing Stone of Echt on account of their proximity to the village of that name, Cullerlie is comprised of eight irregular but neatly-alignedred granite stones set around a matching number of small cairns.
Situated less than a milesoutheast of the Ring of Brodgar, Stenness is thought to be the oldest henge site in the UK. Pottery discovered on the site links it to the ancient settlement at Skara Brae.
Machie Moor is a collection of six concentric stone circles that adorn a moor near the west coast of Arran. Carbon dating on surviving timber found at the site dates Machie Moor to around 2030 BC.
One of the best-preserved examples in Scotland of a recumbent stone circle, boasting its full complement of stones this ancient monument dates back around 4000 years.
Historians first thought that the recumbent stone circle at Leochel-Cushnie dated back millennia but were left red-faced earlier this year whenit was revealed they were the work of a mischievous farmer.