Bennachie: Understand Stones, hear the Stories and Relive the Past

October 2017

The Bailies of Bennachie received this year a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Stories, Stones and Bones grant as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. Throughout the year the Bailies have been working with both Smart History and Aberdeen University to tell the story in different ways from drama, music to a mobile application about the Bennachie Colonists, who were people that lived  on the lower slopes of Mither Tap, Bennachie from 1800 – 1939.

This grant has enabled the Bailies of Bennachie to undertake various projects; some of which are still ongoing.

The Bailies who have been helped by Smart History, based at St Andrews, to create a mobile application about the Bennachie Colonists which shows what the homes of the Bennachie Colonist would look like in 1860. The reconstruction of their homes is based on research using Lidar surveys, archaeology and archival research. The Bailies hope to release this free mobile application in Spring 2018 after a trail in Winter 2017/8.

Starting next month on Saturday 25 November and Sat 2 December 2017 meeting at The Bennachie Visitor Centre, near Chapel of Garioch,  the Bailies with help from anyone interested in tree planting will start to plant a native foraging woodland in the fields at Shepherd’s Lodge.  After the colonists left the slopes of Bennachie, many of the Colonists cultivated fields were planted in trees by The Forestry Commission. In recent years, these trees have been cut down.  Rather than recreating the past fields the Bailies and Forestry Commission Scotland have decided to plant an open woodland, that also protects the old field stone dykes, but plant trees that will eventually bear fruit such as apple trees, hazel and gean (wild cherry) thus creating an edible woodland in keeping with the Bennachie Colonist tradition of growing their own food.

On Saturday 25 November there will also be an opportunity to plant fruit bushes in the kailyard ( kitchen garden) at Shepherd’s Lodge. 

The Bailies are keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in tree or shrub planting, tools and a free lunch is provided on both days and anyone interested should telephone the Bailies on 07799658209 or e-mail

Commenting, Lucy Casot, Head of HLF in Scotland, said:

“The Heritage Lottery Fund is a key partner in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and it was our ambition that people of all ages would have the chance to discover something new about the heritage they care about. With almost 100 projects happening across the country, over 15,000 people have done just that. We’re delighted that, thanks to funding from the National Lottery, The Bailies of Bennachie are part of that celebration, opening the door to fun, learning and everlasting memories for many people as we celebrate this special year.”

For more news please see our current News, News 2017 and Events sections.

Bennachie Colony picture.jpg