White stag built on Aberdeenshire hillside 150 years ago emerges once again
A giant stag created from boulders on an Aberdeenshire hillside to celebrate a laird’s wedding more than 150 years ago has emerged once again.
The Mormond Hill Stag near Fraserburgh is now “standing glorious” after a small team of volunteers worked for five years to clear the overgrowth that long-obscured the landmark.
The team was led by Doug Simpson, who lives in the shadows of the hill, who went in search of the stag after a fellow rambler told him of the hill and its history.
After eventually pinpointing the stag’s location among the thick coverage, the team set to work removing gorse, heather, bracken and some young trees before turning the stones to reveal the beast in all its glory.
A statement from the Mormond Hill Stag Group said: “It was hard work and there were lots of aches and pains with constant bending. We used what was there already and the the process was to remove the stones a little at a time, pull out any heather, weeds etc then turn the stones again.
"It was quite a feat for a small band of volunteers but so satisfying when finished and he is standing glorious.
"The stag is the only hill figure of his kind in existence world wide, how special is that? Hopefully we can keep the stag watching over us for many more years and decades in the future.”
Originally, it is thought the stag may have been set in an outline of white with the figure – which measures some 67 metres by 73 metres – filled in with stones over the years.
When the stag was first created in 1870 by estate tenants, it is believed a horse and cart was used to move tens of thousands of stones onto the hill. Recent information passed to the team suggests the stag’s eye was a dome-shaped mount built of quartz stones, which could be replicated in the future.
Mr Simpson was able to take an easier route to the landmark given the help of forestry company LAM, who helped secure a road up to the site and used weed killer to treat the entire surface of the stag.
Earlier attempts to restore and revive the landmark have been made over the decades but the landmark became almost completely obscured after its last tending around 30 years ago.
Volunteers, including schoolchildren from the area, helped out clearing the stag with a “hardcore” of volunteers dubbed the “Strichen Staggers” established. The team will check the condition of the stag every year.
Mr Simpson earlier told the BBC about first finding the stag with the help of an old map.
He said: "We ended up walking up through a burn, the water was coming down the hill, so we got up and got to the stag and wow, he was unbelievable, what a mess, absolutely covered.
"I'm not sure if it was the stag that chose me, but I'm certainly drawn to it. Sometimes I look back and think, wow, it's incredible really I just seemed to be driven on to get it done once I had got it in my mind, I've always been that way."
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