Archaeologists are undergoing a crisis of self-doubt after it was discovered that a stone circle in northeast Scotland that they believed was built between 3,500 and 4,500 years ago was actually assembled by a local farmer roughly 20 years ago.
Historians enthusiastically greeted the news in December after a landowner in Aberdeenshire’s parish of Leochel-Cushnie informed them of the stone circle near Alford, west of the parish, which was comprised of recumbent stone lying on its side. Over 90 similar stone circles had been found in the country’s northeast.
Yet on Monday, local archaeologist Neil Ackerman was forced to swallow his pride and announce that the stone circle was far from the real deal discovery of an ancient monument and was instead a replica of relatively recent make.
Making light of the humiliating situation, Ackerman tweeted:
“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.”
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
Archaeologists were initially stunned by the stone circle, which hadn’t been recorded on any land records or surveys of the area.
The archaeological analysis of the stone was abruptly called to a stop when the farm’s former owner notified Adam Welfare of the Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council’s Archaeology Service that he had assembled the circle in the 1990s, according to the BBC.
Ackerman credited the farmer for his knowledge of ancient stone circles from the region and noted that there was no foul play or intention to play a hoax by the farmer. Speaking to Live Science, he commented:
“There are various replicas around, but they are usually not as good as this … The guy who built this really knew what he was doing.
It is quite interesting that in building a stone circle, he did not just put a bunch of stones in a circle, he has very closely copied a regional monument type.”
While Ackerman won’t deny his disappointment, he has taken the news in good stride and claims to have devoted more time speaking to the press about the fact that the stone circle was recently made than he did when initial news broke about the supposedly “ancient” monument.
Ackerman has also expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to carry out a bit of trade “practice” on the notoriously hard-to-date stone circle while expressing his hopes to the BBC that the public take advantage of the site.
“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.”