Bennachie Landscapes Project
The Bennachie Landscapes Project is a research initiative devised and executed by the Bailies of Bennachie in co-operation with the University of Aberdeen. The overall project has many strands and is ever-evolving. Many projects have been completed and have been reported in the 3 issues of the Bennachie Landscapes Series of publications.Volume 4 is under production.
The project is open-ended with regard to subject and time. There is no ‘end-date’; no ‘final purpose’. Projects emerge according to the interests of individuals and small groups. Groups can call on assistance from the wider body of members and participants as and when their interests coincide. It is hoped that the Bennachie Landscapes Project will be cross-generational: each new generation of participants inspired to develop new research designs to add to the collective and ever-expanding body of knowledge of Bennachie and its surrounding landscape.
Presently, projects include the ‘Kailyard’ and ‘Foraging Woodland’, ecological recording and analysis on and around the hill, excavations at the ‘Bede house’ and Druminnor Castle, recording and analysis of quarrying, peat bogs and trackways on and over the hill and the recording of oral memories related to Bennachie and its surroundings. Much of the data already collected has gone into the production of the Bennachie App (as well as into the publications) in an attempt to spread that new knowledge more widely.
Aspirations include a desire to co-operate more widely with artists, writers, musicians and dramatists in the locality. The recent research and community projects have generated many new narratives and expressions of local culture that may be grist to the performers’ mill.
The project is being developed and piloted in the area around Bennachie, “the hill” and the Garioch, “the outreach”, but is scalable to encompass the whole of the UK.
To encourage the public to think about the local questions they want to answer and provide them with the skills, competencies and confidence to answer them themselves or via self-organised communities. These questions may include but not be limited to the following portfolio of local public interest areas:
We also want to foster and help people develop likeminded but inclusive social communities to:
- Carry out responsible field work and record the findings to an agreed consistent methodology to allow data comparisons between groups.
- Catalogue electronically, process and make available the output from the work.
- Share the findings through the web, special interest groups, presentations, exhibitions and social media.
- Celebrate successes and create a sustainable legacy for the future.
- Confirm that the original questions have been answered and consider other questions that they now want to answer based on the findings.
Another key aim of the Bennachie Landscapes Project is to engage local schools and young people with the heritage of their area and the opportunities for learning in an engaging way that archaeology can provide.
To date the focus has been primarily on archaeology and excavation of the settlement on Bennachie and at a second site at Druminnor Castle, that was entirely staffed by community members.
Oyne and Keig schools are into their third year of local landscape research around Bennachie and Kintore school is just starting its second year. The focus for 2014 will shift away from “underground activities” and ensure that time, effort and investment is spread more evenly across all 7 of the above key areas. In particular the project will focus on getting findings fully into the public domain so that it stimulates more public interest, provides a valuable resource for the local community and demonstrates the power of well-coordinated collaborative local volunteer effort.
The project will proactively reach out into the local community to find people of all ages and interests, with the time and the skills to help the project become more inclusive, more successful and achieve web searchable new local output across the full Bennachie Landscape portfolio.
There have been a number of publications about this work including books, book chapters and academic journal pages.
Please see our Bennachie Landscapes Project Bibliography for details.