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CED Stone – Depicting The Picts at Legion

Castlecary Depot are very excited to be involved in a new and exciting event launching in Central Scotland tomorrow, LEGION!

‘Search the woods. Find the Picts. See the magic.’

The event being held at Rough Castle Community Woodlands, once part of the great Roman Frontier, will see the woods come to life, illuminated with state of the art sound and light technology.

The idea for this event came to Rhiannon McQuade whilst running segway trips through the surrounding woodland. Rhiannon became familiar with the land and its rich history and soon decided this underused and unappreciated area was worth investment. So Rhiannon, together with business partner Tim Ford, created Rough Castle Experiences.

The event LEGION and its story draws inspiration from the history of the woodlands and neighbouring UNESCO World Heritage site – The Antonine Wall. Rhiannon states, ‘We wanted to create an event which was not only entertaining but also raises awareness of the area and its connection to the Romans.’

So what is CED Stone Group’s involvement?

As a friend of mine, Rhiannon knew of CED Stone Group and asked if the company would like to be involved in some way. This was met with great enthusiasm by myself and my colleague and sister, Anna Bilyk.  We were briefed on the event theme and told to, ‘See what you can come up with’.

Anna and I drafted a plan for a feature stone display. LEGION tells of a time when Roman armies occupied the Antonine wall facing heavy resistance from the fearsome tribes of Caledonia. Pictish stones are the most visible remaining evidence of the Picts so we thought what better way to depict these enigmatic warriors than with standing stones.

We stock a wide range of feature stones at CED but after browsing the stock we decided on Slabby Sandstone standing stones due to their wide flat surfaces and natural rustic appearance. Five stones of differing heights were selected, the tallest at just over 2m would feature a hand painted Pictish design by Anna Bilyk Artist.

Anna and I took a trip out to site to meet with Rhiannon and her team and discuss the standing stone feature and exactly what preparation would be needed for installation. We were shown particular areas which could be used for the feature but came across problems due to access restrictions.  Eventually though, we found the perfect spot with flat ground, plenty of room and easy access for delivery.

The stones were delivered and installed by Castlecary’s Jim Wilson last week and the Pictish design has now been painted by Anna. It looks even better than we had imagined and most important, Rhiannon is happy, ‘I have never got so emotional about stone before. They look absolutely fantastic!’.

In addition to the standing stone display the event will feature aerial acrobats, an art exhibit by our very own Anna Bilyk, and state of the art sound and light technologies including a 20ft tall projection map. There will also be live performance art by Clan Ranald’s Combat International who have featured in films such as Gladiator, Robin Hood and Netflix’s soon to be released, The Outlaw King.

LEGION is set to be an unforgettable experience.

Don’t miss out, get your tickets now.

https://roughcastleexperiences.co.uk/

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Featured

Natural Stone – Halloween Edition 2

Halloween is upon us again and as promised I bring you more creepy stories of the natural stone variety. So read on for tales of rocky recordings, mythical monoliths and protective pebbles.

Hag Stones
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These sacred stones are known by many names, Hag stones, Witch Stones, Adder Stones, and Holy Stones, to name but a few. Throughout the years and depending which country you come from they are said to have just as many uses; Curing diseases, preventing nightmares, even as a porthole to see into the realm of the Fae!

These stones are particularly useful today of all days as Hag Stones are believed to counteract a witch’s magic, protect against curses and ward off the dead.

Have you got yours?

Travelling Through Stone

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Fans of the books and television drama Outlander will know…..

‘The stories are old. Some say as old as the stones themselves, passed down from generation to generation through ballads and songs. I first heard them from my grandmother and she from hers. The songs tell stories about people who travel through the stones…..’

Outlander is a television drama based upon author Diana Gabaldon’s historical time travel book series of the same name. It tells the tale of Claire Randall who is transported back in time after placing her hands upon a monolith in a stone circle at Craigh Na Dun.
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The stone time travel theory comes from Diana Gabaldon’s imagination and not folklore however the elements of it fit together quite nicely.

Stone circles have long been associated with the spirit world. Many have lay untouched for thousands of years due to the belief that the spirits resent human interference with the circle and fears of a reprisal if they did.

It was shortly after the performance of a Druidic ritual at the stones on the Eve of Samhain when Claire Randall first ‘fell through the stones’. Samhain is the Celtic festival that gave roots to the now celebrated Halloween and people believed that Samhain was a time when the doorways to the Otherworld were open and spirits and demons were able to travel freely between realms.

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In summary if you’re planning on visiting a stone circle today, the Eve of Samhain, hoping to be thrust together with the rugged, handsome, Scotsman of your dreams…, chances are you’ll be greeted by something much more sinister.

Another Burial boulder

Another boulder, another Witch’s headstone.

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This boulder marks the grave of Meg Shelton, The Woodplumpton Witch. Said to be a shape shifter there are many stories of Meg’s mischievous exploits, mainly involving stealing from farmers and the local community.

Meg died after reportedly being crushed against a wall by a barrel and she was buried in the churchyard in Woodplumpton. Legend has it that on more than one occasion Meg actually dug herself back out. This eventually led to her being buried head first, like a fence post, so that if she were to try and dig herself out again she would dig in the wrong direction. The boulder was then placed on top for good measure and has been there ever since.

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But has Meg?…..

Stone Tape Theory

The ‘Stone Tape Theory’ is the theory that crystalline rock can ‘capture’ emotional energy released during traumatic events. The energy is imprinted within the stone and similar to the recording on a magnetic tape can be played back under certain conditions. This is used as an explanation for ‘residual hauntings’.

44328540_686547391732221_3180710027589582848_nThere are many hauntings attributed to Stone Tape Theory with battlefields being mentioned frequently; Tales of people hearing war cries and the sound of clashing swords ringing out across Culloden moor.

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And a particularly eerie display was witnessed by a resident of Letham, Angus at the site of the Battle of Dun Nechtain, fought between the Picts and the Northumbrians in the year 685.

It was on a dark January night in 1950. Miss Smith was walking home after her car became stranded in a ditch. As she drew closer to Letham she recognised the dark silhouette of Dunnichen Hill ahead. Her gaze was drawn to a number of flickering lights in the fields to her right.
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She stopped to focus on them and saw that the lights were actually flaming torches held by figures, walking the fields searching the ground for something. Miss Smith watched as they periodically stooped down to the ground and then she saw the shapes. Dead bodies. The figures were turning the corpses over as if to identify them.

Suitably spooked Miss Smith hastened home and later gave details of the experience to the Society for Physical Research. Did Miss Smith experience the playing of stone tape? A recording of Pictish warriors searching the battlefield for their dead comrades. Had the landscape somehow recorded this event at its time in history?

Getting blood from a Stone

Believe it or not you can get blood from a stone! These strange rocks have been found off the coast of Chile and Peru. Smash through the rock surface to get to its bloody interior.
Piure (1)Not buying it?

Ok, you got me, these gory looking rocks are not stone but are in fact a type of sea squirt. The Pyura Chilensis aka the Living Rock. The rock like creature’s blood is in fact clear, it is the flesh inside which is bright red.
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Pyura Chilensis is fished commercially and considered a delicacy in Peru and Chile. The living rock is cut with a sharp knife or hand saw and its bright red insides pulled from its ‘tunic’. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is usually served with salad and rice.
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Delicious!

Happy Halloween everyone
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Teaming up for Gardening Scotland 2018

It’s here! The festival that is Gardening Scotland is upon us and the team at CED Stone Group are super excited for this year’s event and for good reason.

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This year we were invited by Edinburgh based garden designer Lynn Hill to team up and make her beautifully designed show garden a reality. An invitation we hastened to accept! The design, The Garden Retreat – A Place For Living was very impressive on paper and the products selected to build the design are truly stunning.

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Bursting with enthusiasm we leapt into action, favours were called in from suppliers, customers and friends and we set about sourcing materials and ordering bespoke items. Lynn wandered the yard with Depot Manager Mark Kenny selecting the rocks and pebbles to feature in the garden.

In the coming weeks there were many meetings with Lynn to go over plans for the garden, it was a busy time, but this part we were to learn was the easy bit. Just what Team Castlecary had gotten into when we accepted Lynn’s invitation I am not sure was fully contemplated and we were soon to find out just how much hard work building a show garden takes.

The week of the build arrived and it was all hands on deck, the CED build team and Lynn have worked tirelessly for the last 2 weeks, drilling, painting, shoveling and planting. Even our Divisional Director Gary Ewing was snapped getting his hands dirty.

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There was little time and it was an ambitious build, but as the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work and with a little help from our friends at Root 1, Endrick Landscapes, and Ashlea to name but a few, we pulled it off.

 

This last fortnight leading up to opening weekend has been a whirlwind of emotions; anticipation and anxiety, despondency and determination. There has been joy and laughter and there have been tears and tantrums; all this from the team left behind to man the depot never mind those on site at the build!

Mentally exhausted and aching all over the team watched today as people from all over Britain came to opening day and looked on at our creation.

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Judgement was passed and all pains forgotten with the garden being awarded not only Silver Gilt but Best in Show! Team Castlecary are, as I’m sure is Lynn, absolutely ecstatic at our accomplishment.

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I will be working the CED stand on Sunday and I cannot wait to give Lynn my congratulations and see our ‘Best In Show’ garden in the flesh. If you are at Gardening Scotland please stop by our stand and say hello.

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To Be Continued….

Moving Mountains

Trailfinders – South African Wine Estate

Being experts in natural stone CED are often approached for advice and help to source and supply products for those designers brave enough to enter the world of show gardens! We have supplied many different products for show garden features; paddlestones for a river, walling stone for a bench, even boulders for a billabong.

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Trailfinders – An Australian Garden presented by Flemings, 2013 Chelsea Flower Show Gold & Best In Show
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Eden by Yorkshire Garden Designs, Harrogate Flower Show 2018 Gold winner

This year we were contacted by London-based designer Jonathan Snow to aid him in sourcing rock for his ambitious RHS Chelsea garden entry – Trailfinders South African Wine Estate. The idea for Jonathan’s design came to him whilst holidaying with his wife in South Africa. During this time they spent a few days in the wine country touring vineyards and sampling their liquid bounty.

One evening Jonathan and his wife were sat upon the terrace of an old homestead, sipping wine and contemplating their surroundings; the pretty flowered garden, the vibrant green vines lining the dusty plain with the distant rugged mountains splitting the hazy blue sky.

In that moment inspiration struck and a dream was born.

Jonathan embarked on a journey, one which would take two years. Two years of research, design and development and travel. He would secure a sponsor in Trailfinders and bring a skilled and experienced contractor in Mark Richardson’s Stewart Landscape Construction onto the team.

When his application for his first ever show garden was finally complete all his hard work was rewarded with one of the most coveted plots at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Main Avenue.

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Jonathan’s design is pretty incredible. A snapshot of his South African experience, not only does his design capture the Cape Dutch homestead and terrace overlooking the charming domestic garden, but true to recall it also depicts the vineyard and distant fynbos mountains.

Quite a challenge for any designer let alone a newcomer.

The design has many interesting aspects; The building of the homestead facade at Stewart Landscape Construction’s yard. Jonathan’s trips to Italy, Spain, South Africa and Cornwall to source the many beautiful and unusual plants which will adorn the garden. Using burning oil drums to singe plants for the scorched fynbos landscape!

But we are CED Stone Group, and stone is what we do.  Our task, to help build a mountain.

When Jonathan first got in touch to discuss his design requirements, Managing Director Giles Heap and Divisional Director Gary Ewing were left intrigued. Jonathan shared pictures of the mountains to be replicated and explained his vision for the design.

Being a show garden there were of course restrictions, a mere 85m2 of floor area with a maximum height allowance of 2.4m, making this a complicated feature to bring to life. An additional challenge which was becoming readily apparent from their conversations, Jonathan was going to need some rather large pieces of stone.

Luckily we have a guy for that, and so Jonathan would take a trip to the Scottish Highlands where he would meet with CED’s Tony Mason aka The Boulder Hunter.

Tony had pre-selected some of the largest pieces of Golden Quartzite that the quarry had to offer and Jonathan spent the day inspecting these and scouring the quarry for any others that might work in his design.

The trip proved very beneficial in Jonathan’s view, “It was great to get a feel for the shape of the rocks in general and pick out the best colours.”

The chosen rocks were left in Tony’s capable hands to be transported down to our Castlecary Depot in Central Scotland where a mock build would take place. Team Castlecary patiently awaited their arrival, excited to see the raw makings of Jonathan’s South African mountain. And when the quartzite cavalcade rolled in, the immense blocks glistening proudly in the sunlight, we were not disappointed.

Jonathan arrived the following week joined by Stewart Landscape Construction’s Mark Richardson and Jonathan Adams. They had only three days with us so there was no time to waste. The area was marked up, bulk bags of type 1 positioned to form a wall, and aided by Gary Ewing and Yard Foreman Pat Hughes, work began.

No stranger to a mock build having worked on Trailfinders – An Australian Garden, Pat was charged with the onerous task of manoeuvering the rocks into position.

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Mark Richardson commented, “The problem with modelling these types of landscapes is that you can spend an hour placing one rock and then when you look at it with the others it’s not right so you have to start again.”

This was indeed the case and the Quartzite blocks were stacked, demolished then re-stacked repeatedly, a process described pretty accurately by Mark and Jonathan as a game of ‘boulder Jenga’. Some of the more irregular shaped rocks were particularly tricky and had to be strapped and slung into place, which was no mean feat.

After several hours of positioning the mountainous boulders and by the end of a late shift on day two Jonathan was happy with the layout of the back wall.

Day three was spent adding the finishing touches to the design and selecting caged size rockery to be scattered across the mountain range, and as the working day drew to a close, the mock build was complete.

It may not look like much but having the opportunity to do this mock build was very important to the overall process. Mark explains, “We only get three weeks to construct the whole garden and so we have to have a program that matches on an hourly basis so doing a mock-up will take out a lot of the decision-making on site.”

Before the team returned home they numbered each boulder and took numerous pictures to use as a reference. This will save them precious time doing the final build on Main Avenue.

We have now said farewell to the forty plus tonnes of Quartz and they are heading to Chelsea where Jonathan and team are waiting with hard hats and heavy lifting gear to boot.

We very much enjoyed working with Jonathan Snow and Stewart Landscaping Construction on this fantastic, complex design and we cannot wait to see it in its entirety.

We will be following their progress closely across social media and tv, crossing our fingers for a medal to match the Golden Quartz mountain.

Jonathan you must be extremely proud of what you have achieved and we wish you and your team the very best of luck.

I’ll just leave these hashtags here.

#Dreambig  #Movemountains

 

South African Tourism Vineyard, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa

 

Ripple Retreat

I recently visited a site that CED Castlecary Depot had supplied materials to, to picture the materials in-situ. Quite honestly I don’t think I have been to a more beautiful place in my life.

A cancer retreat built on private land on the shore of Loch Venachar, Callander. Everything about this place just blew me away, from the spectacular views to the striking building and landscape design and the story of how it came to be. You can’t not be inspired, and so I write.

The Charity

In 2010 the charity It’s Good 2 Give was set up by Lynne and Ian McNicoll. The aim, ‘providing practical support to young cancer patients and their families at what is the most challenging of times.’.

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Over and above this purpose, they had a dream; to build a retreat where young cancer patients and their families could spend time together in a safe and relaxing environment. An escape from the challenges of living with this illness.

A small charity with a BIG dream. But a funding award, an incredibly generous donation of land from couple David and Jean Ferguson, and an introduction to award-winning architect Tony Kettle, thrust Lynne and Ian’s dream into reality.

And just as the ripples spread on the loch surface, word of Lynne and Ian’s ambitious and worthy project reached far and wide. Soon they had hundreds of people supporting them with donations and a team of professionals ready to work the project to completion. Read their amazing story here.

The Design

Tony Kettle of The Kettle Collectives, gave his time and expertise for free to design the building, taking in the natural surroundings; the ripples on Loch Venachar and the encompassing hills. The building is stunning inside and out and I feel very privileged to have been given a tour by Ian and Lynne themselves. Find out about Tony’s iconic design here.

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Tony Kettle’s design model

Edinburgh based Semple Begg Garden Design were invited by Kettle Collective, pre-build, to design the landscape and we were delighted they chose CED products to realise their design.

Susan Begg and Nicola Semple’s aim was to create a design which echoed not only Tony Kettle’s visionary building design but also the living landscape beyond. It had to be beautiful, but it also had to be practical. To be fit for purpose it needed amongst other things, emergency vehicle access, wheelchair accessible gardens and play opportunities for the children who would be spending time there.

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Semple Begg design sketch

From the Loch’s cool blue waters to the snow-capped bens and wild green forests of the Trossachs they didn’t have to look far for inspiration. In fact a lot of time was spent drawing out their design sat upon driftwood settled on the pebbled shoreline.

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The design had to fit the surroundings and so it made sense to them to use natural materials. For the paths they chose our mixed grade Scottish Beach Pebbles mimicking those which formed the beaches of the loch.

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To fulfill the need for wheelchair accessible paths they used our Cedadrive (gravel stabalisation system) complete with 10mm Flint Gravel.

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Susan describes the Cedadrive as, ‘A great product for trafficked areas – pedestrian and vehicular. A much more natural solution that’s perfect for rural setting.’

For the main feature in Susan and Nicola’s design, The Boardwalk, they took inspiration from Tony Kettle’s rippling roof profile on the retreat. Their design plays with the shadow line of the roof forming a rippling pathway down to the water’s edge.

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Creating this design was a challenge. The path had to be flush to the ground and wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair with a person alongside. The section closest to the loch could be below the waterline for months at a time so this added an additional difficulty.  Nicola explains, ‘We had to choose a seriously strong material and still maintain the light natural feel that the setting demands. This led us to CED’s Yellow Granite Planks.’

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Another issue was that the standard Yellow Granite planks which CED supply were too short for the desired effect. Gary Ewing and Simon Copsey worked closely with Susan and Nicola providing technical support to determine custom sized planks which would achieve the design whilst retaining the strength and integrity of the product.

In keeping with the theme Buff Sawn and Textured Sandstone planks were used for entrance ways and the deck creating an elegant understated area where families can sit out and take in the beauty of the natural environment.

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Ripple Retreat

Work began in September 2015 and 18 months later The Ripple Retreat was officially opened by Charity Patron Grant Stott, and Scottish TV treasure, Lorraine Kelly.

The end result, culminating from big-hearted dreamers, charitable businesses and individuals, and hard-working, talented professionals, is as the location’s scenery determines it should be. Simply breathtaking.

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Less than a year since opening Ian tells me donations are still rolling in and so far 16 families have benefited from staying at the Retreat. The comments in the guest book are telling of just how much having the chance to stay at the facility has meant to some of the families.

When talking to Lynne and Ian it is apparent how appreciative they are of all the generous donations they have received and also how proud they are of what they have achieved. Rightly so! Although a minimal part was played, CED are extremely proud to have been involved in the creation of The Ripple Retreat which will benefit families in need for many years to come.

Lynne and Ian you are an inspiration.

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Faith in humanity restored.

Click here to donate to It’s Good 2 Give

(Ariel picture of Ripple Retreat taken by Tony Kettle)

Natural Stone – Halloween Edition.

From stone circles to megaliths Britain’s landscapes are peppered with ancient stones dating back thousands of years so it’s not surprising that so many of them are associated with folklore and legend. As it’s Halloween I thought i would share some of these spooky stone tales with you.

Cnoc Fada Standing Stones

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The Cnoc Fada standing stones, or ‘haunted stones of Mull’ are sited in a Pine Wood on the Isle of Mull. The five basalt standing stones are situated in a clearing in the woods, each around 2.5m in height. Although all five once stood in a line, over time; around 4000 years in fact, 3 have toppled.

The stones are haunted by the spirit of an old man in a tweed jacket. He has been witnessed by several people over the years, reports of him sitting sobbing on one of the fallen stones or stamping his feet and haivering in Gaelic (probably about the price of a dram these days).

It is believed the spectre is old ‘Flinty Nicols’ who was a notorious alcoholic in the area. Although Flinty was prone to bouts of aggression and the apparition appears menacing, he rarely interacts with those who come across him.

The Witches Stone

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In Dornoch, Scotland, this stone marks the site where the last person in Britain was executed on the charge of being a witch.

In 1727 Janet Horne was accused, along with her daughter, of witchcraft. The mother, old and confused (most likely suffering from what would now be diagnosed as dementia), the daughter suffering from a hand deformity which the neighbours deemed proof of the spell cast by her mother. The claim is; Janet cast a spell turning her daughter into a pony which she rode to the devil himself to shoe.

They were both tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. The daughter managed to escape however poor Janet was not so lucky. The day after sentencing she was stripped, covered in tar and put in a barrel to be rolled through the streets before being burned to death.

It is said that the ghost of Janet Horne haunts the village to this day.

The Old Man Of Storr

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The Isle of Skye is steeped in myth and legend and it is here you will come across the old man of Storr. The largest of the jagged basalt peninsulas dotting the isle, the old man stands at 160ft tall.

There are a few different myths surrounding this rock formation my favourite is the legend of The Fay (fairies). Fairies are common in Scottish Folklore, but don’t get them confused with the cute and genteel fairies potrayed in fairy tales today. Fairies back then were wicked and devious creatures.

The story goes that there was a man and wife who would take an early evening stroll up the hills every day. As life dictates the lovers grew old and one day they found the wife had grown too old to reach the top with her husband.

The devilish fairies who had watched the couple make this trip every evening offered to help the man. They offered him the chance to always have his wife with him wherever he went, loving his wife as much as he did the old man accepted the fairies proposal.

The fairies were indeed true to their word and they turned both the man and his wife into the giant pillars of rock you see in the picture, never to be parted again.

Bleeding Heart Yard

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One of the more sinister and gory tales is that which occurred on this cobbled courtyard in London.

It is said the courtyard gained its name from the events that unfolded in 1626 when on the morning of the 27th January the high society beauty, Elizabeth Hatton was found. Murdered. Her body ‘torn limb from limb’ and her heart discarded ‘still pumping blood onto the cobblestones’.

It is said that Elizabeth’s ghost still wanders the courtyard and on peaceful nights you can hear the faint throbbing of her heart echo across the cobbled courtyard.

This legend is in fact fictitious and is pieced together from a series of unrelated events and facts. Makes for a great story though.

Stone Circles

There are over 1300 stone circles in Britain.  Built thousands of years ago it is hard to wrap your head around just how these monstrous monoliths were placed so strategically!

Stone circles have long been a site for religious and sacred ceremonies so it’s not surprising that these circles are steeped in myth and legend. Below is Long Meg and her Daughters, Penrith, Cumbria.

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The third largest stone circle in Britain, Long Meg and her daughters was built in the Bronze Age.  The diameter measures approximately 100m and the circle is made up of 59 individual stones, although it is though to have been more originally. Long Meg, a 12-foot high red sandstone monolith stands outside the circle and is etched with cup and ring marks adding to its mysterious presence.

Legend has it that the circle is a witch and her daughters who were turned to stone for the unholy act of dancing on the Sabbath. A spell cast by a 13th century wizard, it is said that when counting the stones no person will ever count the same number twice, if anyone should accomplish this the curse will be broken and the witches freed

The amount of superstition and myth connected to boulders and monoliths is simply overwhelming, so I will end here until next year, Happy Halloween everyone

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Old Man of Storr max.touriste flkr, Callanish Stone Circle- Andrew Bennett flkr, Long Meg and Her Daughters – John Shepley flkr, Cnoc Fada Standing Stones – Joccay flkr

Wishing Stone

Sometimes, be it for practical, technical or aesthetic reasons companies, when undertaking upgrading works, decide it’s out with the old and in with the new. If in a decent condition CED will purchase these unwanted and weathered materials for resale. We have reclaimed kerb, setts, walling and paving in stock at Castlecary Depot, and it might not be often but every once in a while we get something really special. This is one of those times.

Behold…….

Our Craigleith sandstone stock.

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Fantastic isn’t it.

Ok, it might not look like much but let me tell you why this stone is so special.

Ok so for starters this stone is 350MILLION years old! It dates back to the carboniferous period, a quick search online will tell you more about the planet during this period. I will give you a quick summary, it was was hot, swampy and treey*.

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The sandstone was quarried from Craigleith quarry in Edinburgh. The quarry was in operation for 300 years and was one of the largest and most productive in the country. It was also a hazard to health for those who worked there. Doctors advised quarrymen at Craigleith to grow beards and moustaches to act as respirators, and a physician once noted that “a Craigleith man was done at 30 and dead at 35”.

Material was exported from Craigleith across the world and it was used in the construction of many, many buildings in Edinburgh. The pillars in the entrance of Robert Adam’s Old College were hewn from huge 22 foot blocks quarried from Craigleith. It took 16 horses to haul each pillar weighing in at 9 tonnes per piece.

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In 1823 a 1500 tonne block was taken from the quarry, cut into pieces and transported 3 miles to Calton Hill to form the architrave of the Calton Hill National Monument. It was said to have needed 70 men and 12 horses to haul some of the larger stones up the hill.

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Around 1942 the quarry ceased work and for the next 50 years it became the city’s main refuse dump filling in the 110m deep cavity. In 1993 the site was bought by the Sainsburys Group and is now the Craigleith Shopping Park. A strip of the upper quarry face is still exposed and can be viewed at the back of the Sainsburys store.

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Ok. So, 350million years old, cut from a notorious quarry, and it is extremely rare. If you’re after ‘fresh’ 350million year old Craigleith sandstone, well you’re up a gum tree my friend.

All very impressive, but keep reading because the most interesting part is where our reclaimed Craigleith sandstone has been living since being quarried.

This stone was part of one of the most striking and iconic landmarks in Edinburgh, the Ross Fountain. For the last 145 years it has lain hidden below the surface of this ornate structure, listening to the public’s inner thoughts as their coins fall to rest beneath the water. The keeper of thousands of dreams, hopes and wishes.

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Made in France at the iron foundry of Antoine Durenne the cast-iron fountain was bought by Edinburgh local Mr Daniel Ross, and gifted to the city. It was shipped to Leith in 122 pieces and has stood at the foot of Edinburgh Castle since 1872.

Thanks to the Ross Development Trust the fountain is currently undergoing extensive restoration works. The cast iron ladies and co have been removed for the first time in 145 years and have travelled to Wigan for a much needed and long overdue pampering session.

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The base and foundations (our 74 tonnes of Craigleith Sandstone) were removed entirely to make way for a new foundation which will feature an underground chamber to allow the water to be recycled when it is open again in spring 2018.

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So now the foundation of one of the most famous, beautiful and artistic landmarks in Scotland is sitting idle in Castlecary Depot. It waits patiently for its next role. Walling, a rockery, a waterfall feature…., this stone will look beautiful as any landscaping feature and will boast a fascinating back story.

There’s just one thing i must to do before it is all sold.

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Well, you never know.

 

*treey – full of trees

With thanks to David Ellis of The Ross Development Trust and James Mitchell of Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd for their help providing information for this article and Senan Kellehar of Kelsen Technical Ltd for introducing us to this material.

Photo credits; Carboniferous Tropical Forest – original painting by Treena Joi, Robert Adam’s Old College – Google Maps, Calton Hill National Monument – london road(Flickr), Ross Fountain – Tony Hisgett(Flickr)