'Dig in' at Bennachie Colony

October 2011

‘Bennachie Landscapes’ got off to a wonderful start at the weekend. This was the first event organised by the community research project jointly run by the Bailies of Bennachie and the University of Aberdeen. It saw over seventy volunteers enjoying the sunshine whilst digging ‘shovel-pits’ as part of an archaeological sampling process. This was aimed at finding out more about the material culture and landscape of the 19th century Colonists.

Three areas were sampled by the volunteers who came from a range of backgrounds and age groups. These included a group of extremely dedicated and skilled youngsters from Aboyne Academy with their teacher, Jane Summers who are gaining quite a national reputation for their proven archaeological abilities. Many others came as family groups - grand-parents, parents and children - and all seemed to gain something from the experience and will, hopefully return for future events.A descendant of one of the Colonist families - the Findlaters - visited the site to view the activity. Both days were rounded off by tea and biscuits whilst Dr Rick Knecht, a finds expert from the University, discussed the day’s haul.

Archaeologically the weekend was a resounding success. A good collection of finds, mainly pottery and china but also including clay pipes, glass and metal, has begun to give an accurate insight into the lifestyles and relative affluence of the Colonists. Contemporary accounts, largely derived from the local lairds who were not comfortable about their presence on the hill, described them as virtual social outcasts. The results of the weekend’s work are now beginning to present a different picture of a community of small-scale farmers living little differently from their neighbours in the surrounding countryside. Future work will hopefully add to this picture.

Anybody wishing to become practically involved in ‘Bennachie Landscapes’ can e-mail:

For more news please see our current News, News 2011 and Events sections.

'Dig in' at Bennachie Colony in 2011