The Bede House Excavations on Bennachie

June 2018

‘Enacting the Past’ - The Bede House Excavations on Bennachie

A programme of fieldwork being carried out by the ‘Bennachie Landscapes Fieldwork Group’ is attempting to locate and explore the historically-attested ‘Bede House’ on the Pittodrie Estate. The work is being carried out with the kind permission of Macdonald Hotels who own the estate.

Bede houses were created to provide refuge for the old and infirm of a parish and date from medieval times. Few have been thoroughly investigated. They were patronised by local lairds; in this case, by the Erskines, who vacated the estate in the mid 19th-century after centuries of involvement in the area. A ‘bedesman/bedeswoman’ was one who prayed for the soul of his or her benefactor and the name comes from the Old English word ‘biddan’ - to pray.

The exact whereabouts of the Bede House is debateable. Two sites will be examined to search for evidence. The first is that named as the Bede House on Ordnance Survey maps (but might, actually, be the incorrect location!). The other has been revealed by recent LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensing.

Guided tours of the sites will be available. dates and times to be confirmed, please email info@bailiesofbennachie.co.uk if you are interested.

People wishing to take part in the excavations will be most welcome. Work will start at 10am and continue till 16:30. A complete list of dates is available in the Events section of this site. Please contact info@bailiesofbennachie.co.uk to arrange the days you would like to attend. Space is limited so booking is essential. People under 16 years will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Bennachie Landscapes is a project organised jointly by the Bailies of Bennachie and the University of Aberdeen. It has been running since 2010 and researches the social and natural heritage of Bennachie and its surrounding landscape.


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The Bede House Excavations on Bennachie