Kirkhill Pillar
I n front of the Almondell Country Park Visitor Centre is a pillar. It doesn’t look very remarkable at first, just a tall stone post topped with a small belfry and an iron cross. But if you inspect it more closely, you will see that it is covered with Latin phrases, measurements and symbols, chiselled into the stone like the scrawlings of a fevered mathematician stonemason. The pillar originally stood in the grounds of Kirkhill House, 5 km north of here. It was commissioned in 1776 by David Stewart Erskine, the 11th Earl of Buchan, to commemorate his own achievement: that of building a scale model of the solar system in his garden. In the tradition of the Enlightenment, Buchan was a lover of all the arts and sciences, but he also seems to have had an eye on his place in history. Sir Walter Scott described him as a person “whose immense vanity, bordering upon insanity, obscured, or rather eclipsed, very considerable talents …” Whether it was inspired by ego or enthusiasm, sadly the laws of entropy have caused Buchan’s giant orary to vanish into the cosmos, and the pillar’s writing has become so worn that it’s difficult to read. On the east side, the abbreviated text states: “In the year 1776, I caused a representation to be made of the solar system on a scale of 12.283 miles and 23/100 to an inch; the table of which epitome is engraved on a belfry which stands in the middle of the garden, and of which I shall insert a transcription below.” Said table lists the astronomical symbols for the sun and the planets (apart from Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, which had yet to be discovered) along with their scaled size and distance from the sun. Why Buchan chose such a peculiar scale is not known. But apparently much of the astronomical detail is remarkably accurate. It includes a prediction of the position of the planets on 20 February 2255. (According to Star Trek, that is when the Treaty of Armens is established between the Sheliak Corporate and the United Federation of Planets.) Buchan would perhaps be pleased to know that he had inspired the Kirkhill Pillar Project, where local artists have created an artwalk through pieces inspired by the different planets. One of them, Uranus, is on the main road down into Almondell Park. Directions to the others can be found on their website:

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Lovely park , great for long walks. Very popular with dog walkers and families. Parking isn't the best and can often be very wet and muddy with a few large pot holes so take care and dress appropriately. Lovely views too. Lovely hidden gem in the middle of a busy town.

Great place for waking, cycling or just chilling out. Well looked after too. Keep up the good work!

Great place. Nice helpful and friendly staff in the visitors centre.

Great walk for all ages, all year round.

Lovely walks a long the water ways. Dog friendly

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