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
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
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.
Beautiful walks and scenery. Wonderful place.
Great for kids and path ok for wheelchairs.
Lovely little park for kids at end of the walk with coffee machine and ice lollies 🙂
Always popular with everyone in our troop.
Lovely, well maintained park. Great for all the family, as it has a play, picnic and BBQ areas, a visitors shop, toilet facilities and plenty of open spaces. Lots of walking paths, some along the river and others allowing you to avoid the water all together. If your lucky you will see some mallard ducks in the water. It can become a little busy in the summer due to the narrow paths but most have the option to reroute half way. The only problem I have is the main path down the park is a steep hill, which cars frequently travel down, so you need to be aware of this if you have dogs or children with you.